When the words left her mouth, she felt a small amount of relief followed by immediate pain, like urinating and stopping midway through.
“I’m not made to be a mother,” she said.
Her eyes focused on the ceiling fan, trying to find her reflection on the shiny brass behind the blurring movement of the blades. She tried opening her mouth again, but was stuck in the calm hypnosis of the fan, forgetting the moment. His teeth were pressed firmly against his lower lip, like when he forcibly holds back tears; a drop of sweat made its way down his sideburn. She knew that in her face he could see the struggle.
“It isn’t something I planned or even considered,” she said.
In the past, she created lists after lists in her mind of the things she needed in life and wanted out of life and a child was never on any of those lists. The Homes and Gardens life she made for herself, with him, led to the estrangement of their marriage. She changed herself into the woman in the grocery store checkout line with the cartooned fruit and veggie Ziplocs filled with coupon clippings from The Daily Saver. She watched re-runs of Lucy in bed with him as he leaned on the headboard with his hand down his pants reading novels on American politics.
“Married life became tedious,” she said.
After the short period of their marriage she found an apartment on the East side of town. Life alone had given her the time to think about things she had put behind her and the things that gave her the courage to break free from the restrictions of marriage.
“You know when the phone would ring and it was your name was on the screen, it wasn’t easy to ignore,” she said, letting go of the censorship she had held on to so tightly.
When she slept around with other men and led the life of a cheater, she was aware of the hurt he would eventually feel and at times she knew that in his mind his suspicion had grown into certainty.
For years she had justified the hotel room blowjobs and back-seat romps with her married boss. She looked up articles on human nature and the practices of polygamy, convincing her guilty conscious that the urges that drove her actions were natural.
His mouth was tightly pursed and she knew he didn’t understand her hesitation to answer his question or stay on topic. He firmly held the papers in his hand and waved them in her face. At that moment her eyes began to water, but she felt none of the emotions that should make her cry. Her feelings were not happy, nor sad, but of a painful indifference. She became intently aware of the involuntary connection of her heart, mind and body.
“I don’t want them!” She said.
She let go and realized, admitting to herself for the first time, that she did not want to be a parent. She did not want to have to be a part of her children’s lives anymore. She did not desire to see her daughter dance on a stage in a parent infested auditorium and she did not desire to see her son slide into home-base at his first t-ball game. She did not care about her daughter’s bloody knee when she fell down skating and she did not care about their screams at night when they had nightmares. She did not care about the A’s they made in reading and math and she did not bother to save their first lock of hair or lost baby teeth.
“I want my life back!” she yelled.
She knew at that moment, she so achingly desired to go back to the day she got into his brand new 87’ Chevy, just seconds after leaving a paper towel note on her mother’s kitchen table that said, “Goodbye, it’s my life.” Before the unplanned rushed wedding because it was the “right” thing to do. Before the 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, yellow house in the suburbs. Before the baby keep sakes. Before the tights and tutus. Before the cleats and baseball caps. Before the kindergarten field trips. Before the size 3 roller-skates and size 4 roller-blades. Before being called mommy.
“Let me see the papers,” she said.
She took the papers out of Adam’s hand and forcibly grabbed the pen from his shirt pocket. She signed on the dotted lines and initialed the square boxes, officially granting full custody to her ex-husband.
As she walked out of the door, she stopped on the second step and looked at Adam for one last time. “You know, you are the only parent they need,” she said, and turned away towards the rusted Chevy.