23.9.03

Between happiness and heartbreak

I had a weird dream last night. This is as ordinary as me saying "I went to bed last night", but anyway: I had a weird dream last night. A lot of it was the usual mishmash involving work, family, etc. but distinct among the images --- or at least the last swathe of images before I finally woke up --- was this newborn that had been adopted by X's Ex. In real life, X's Ex is very much single but I can totally see her taking up the single mother thing (she's one of the most independent women I've ever met). Nevertheless, because Singapore is conservative, crusty old Singapore, in the dream I remember thinking: how did she convince the adoption people to let her adopt this baby?

Anyway, in the dream, the baby looked and felt like a baby --- all soft skin, all scrunched up "Go 'way! I wanna sleep!" face --- but it also talked like a teenager, i.e. in the language of sarcasm. It was pretty surreal, even for a dream.

But the really important thing is that in the dream, I sorta picked up the baby (or maybe we were both lying down on pillows, facing each other) and hugged it, so that it's face was all smooshed up against mine. I inhaled the fragrance of its new skin, I sensed the potential of the person within that little, soft baby, I imagined the adult it would become ---

And I remember thinking: This is it. This is the moment. When you realize that having a child brings with it the sublime happiness of cradling its soft body, knowing the pure essence that lies within, dwelling in the simple beauty of holding another living thing so close to you --- and to also clearly see in that instant that the baby will grow up, grow old, grow hard, grow independent.

Grow away.

And that is why it's so difficult to have children. That's why even though I caressed a six-month-old boy's skin last Saturday, and it was beautiful, I don't have a six-month-old, a one-month-old, a any-month-old baby of my own. I am ready for the sublime happiness --- who isn't, really? --- but I can't accept the heartbreak yet.

Of course, this is twinned with the heartbreak and happiness that the child itself will feel. I think Jessica Delfino nailed it with her lullaby (link courtesy of Wilwheaton.net). But that's the next step for the parent --- after you've had a child, after you've come to terms with your own modes of disappointment and defeat, after you're ready for whatever the child flings back at you, be it sarcasm or sweetness 'n light.

And me? I'm just not there yet.

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