AddendumPosted: January 24, 2013
When I was little, my mom convinced me that dirt is worm eggs. I couldn’t remember the details of how I reached that conclusion, but I knew she would just repeat ‘dirt is worm eggs, dirt is worm eggs’ until I got the picture. Yesterday all was made clear.
I was cutting Abby’s nails, and my mom was sitting on the couch. She told Abby how Grammy used to bite Abby’s uncle’s nails when he was a baby because he wouldn’t let her clip them, then she reminded Abby how Mom used to bite her nails. My mom laughed and asked me if I remembered her telling me I’d get worms from biting my nails.
In my mind, my jaw dropped. I asked how many times I had worms; she sheepishly replied none.
That was the story; my mom told me so often not to bite dirty nails because I’d get worms. My baby brain translated that as ‘dirt is worm eggs,’ and here we are today, with me still psychologically scarred, fearing every gram of dirt is teeming with worm eggs waiting to hatch in a nice warm tummy, the yard veritably seething with wriggly invertebrates dying to get under my nails and into my mouth.
That is why I’m so anti-love-theory-of-reproduction. Love has nothing to do with sex; it will or won’t happen. Love has nothing to do with conception; it will or won’t happen.
Just because your baby came from love doesn’t mean your grandchildren will. And what if your child has to suffer through that, even secondhand, supporting a friend or loved one? How have they been prepared by being told that babies come from love?
It seems the same as that standby, ‘you can be/do anything you want when you grow up,’ often followed by ‘as long as you work hard enough.’ It’s simply not true. You can’t plan for things as small as colorblindness just as you can’t plan for things as large as infertility or infidelity.
We can’t protect our children from life’s unpredictability; we can’t even protect ourselves from it.
I’m not advocating learned pessimism. A child’s joy in everything is a treasure to be cherished for as long as possible.
But an attempt to protect them from life is doomed to failure from the first instant. Is a few more minutes of innocence worth the resentment that their parents kept the truth from them?
I can’t imagine how much more hurt I would have been if I’d believed that babies come from love.
It hurts to be protected from something that there’s no protection from. It hurts to find something you learned from the people you trust more than anyone to be false. It hurts when promises are broken.