In My Pretend World I am not becoming Mother, because I am a man lifting objects in an empty room. In this world I would never think to say ‘I am not becoming Mother’, because I don’t have to and I never will. Instead I have laughable dreams where I wind up in silly situations whose only solution is to raise my arms in anger and say, “No! No! I am not shoplifting melons!” but when I lift my shirt to show them, I am burdened by breasts, and wake up in a terrified haze before realizing it is all just a silly dream. An absurd dream, in this world where I am not becoming Mother.
In My Pretend World it is hard to imagine pulling you out from between my legs, “But if I had to I would, because I love you,” I say. These moments are confusing but they are also admirable. I say things like, “Imagine pulling a baby out of me though,” and laugh out loud, because I am comforted by its impossibility, and even though neither my words nor my laugh are heard I feign empathy toward some distant idea, which feels right. In My Pretend World I don’t know that I am in fact becoming Mother.
In My Pretend World certain parts of my brain are altered in such a way that allows me to easily accept my role as a man lifting objects in an empty room. In fact I take great pleasure in understanding this, and also pride myself a pretty understanding person, at least in My Pretend World; though I do worry sometimes that I might be too understanding, which is not an insensitive or insane thing to think, because I think it all the time. I think about whether or not I would give up a life that I understand to become a mother, and I smile knowingly. I think that although it would be tough, I would give up what I have to keep you, and perhaps there are other people who would not. Then I feel proud. I think about the Unfair World where I will not get to do that, and how for that I am ashamed, and I grow more proud each time I think it.
In My Pretend World I deal with an immense shame, which I acquiesce through immense understanding and pride. “Does that make it better?” I ask you, “That I harbor immense shame?” But we never discover the answer, and my pride is reviled. I am always right, it turns out, in My Pretend World.
In My Pretend World I cannot bear children. But I also cannot bear your name. I will understand if you cannot understand this. That is how much I care about you. I care about you enough to make it easy, which is to say, take my advice: I could wear your name within me, as well as without. But I will not. So be gone.
In My Pretend World you are not forbidden parts of an endangered whole. You are not laughter, joy and fulfillment denied. You are not things I can want. You are ways I cannot live, and ways I cannot be seen. You are ways I cannot be understood. You are sometimes everything I am thankful to have left alone. You are forgotten things when I say, “Silly me”. And you are fearful things when I hear, “Silly you,” coming back.
“But what is more silly than a man lifting objects in an empty room?”
Today I can hear you entirely. Today I have grown so drunk on shame I have tensed into a monster— I have strung up all my awareness. I have tuned into You. And through me We say the most awful things.
We say, “When I become Mother I will no longer pretend. I will occupy my body of vacated shame. When I become Mother I will hardly realize, because I’ve been Mother all along, and mother to a fantasy. Are you this fantasy? Do you resent me too? When I become Mother I will feel free to live as I am, though it will not be easy, nor free; hardly anything is. Only men live “free and easy”. Someone once told me that, and I could not believe. Not only men sing those songs. But I am not a man, nor am I a mother.”
I am a mother in the body of a man.
By: Jacob Perkins, Contributor