Letter to My Future Children

When I decided I was finally ready to give my body over

to the creation of another human being ,

to devote my temple to the formulation

of a heartbeat between my hipbones

a new soul placed carefully inside of me;

to become one with their making

it was then that I realized my body is not a temple

it is, instead, a pile of garbage

a consuming vacuum of fast food and too much television

and how could I ever expect to be anything better than the sum of my parts

than the pathway the generations before me had carved into the gravel

my toes sunk into while walking

You see, we birthed the idea of the existence of our daughters

of our sons

of a future full of our kind of legacy,

of exactly the kind of religion we hoped would permeate this earth like dandelion seeds

twisting itself around the hearts of those we loved the most

so that someday we might be able to look back and say: “Here is a family

that knew how to love God over all other people”
Yet somehow, while mapping out the future of our unborn children,

we started assigning their names to jobs and schools,

began giving them characteristics and personalities

before they even came out of the womb

before they were even placed in our arms in the delivery room

cold and hungry and needy for our love

for our unabashed open arms

ready to accept them as they are,

as they were created to be

We spent so much time attempting to show them

a mirror image of who we imagined them to be

tried to tell them not to color outside of the lines

not to see how it felt for the lines on our hands to be open to receiving anything

but what was already given to us.

It was then that fear became the only oxygen in my lungs,

terrified that maybe I would never be able to raise a child

that broke the cycle of abuse,

that no matter how much we wanted to create another creature

capable of loving and giving and sprouting wings like hope,

maybe I didn’t have all the tools yet;

maybe I needed another decade or two

to see how I would eventually measure up

to see who I am beneath all those layers of expectations

piled on me as a child, all those fears and dreams I still can’t decide

if they are my own, or some predestination placed on me when my parent’s signed my birth certificate with the name of a child

they had spent years imagining would be just like them.

And don’t we always do this? Don’t we always imagine what our children will be like

decades before we actually have them,

practicing with our baby dolls scenarios in which they grow up to be strong like trees

unbendable, unbreakable, able to weather all storms.

Yet I look at my mother, and I look at my grandmother

and see that both were so wrapped up in trying to find inner peace

that they forgot the sanctity of their own bones

sprawled out like a cradle,

ready to hold the heart of the one they spent nine months creating

with their own flesh and blood,

a creation birthed out of the desire to make something better

than what they had as a child,

but forgetting that expectations often curl the same as a noose:

tight, and unforgiving

and often so familiar it feels like home

a second away from taking your breath.

So, little one, I vow that I will love you

more than I ever have learned to love myself

to give you every part of me that goes beyond any dreams those before me told me I should have for you

and I will carry you so that every day my heart beats stronger

until one day you are able to rise up and see

that it was your heart beating all along

it was always you

my heart will always beat for you.