People my age aren’t having children.
I don’t know who it was that told us to worship happiness, but somewhere along the way, someone did, and we opened up our arms and raised our psalms to the sky. We shouted whole hallelujahs of happiness. Built little alters to it and brought it all of our favorite things, until the white tablecloth was covered with takeout sushi, trips to the Amalfi Coast, oatmilk lattes, clean white sneakers, true crime podcasts, bar tabs, collagen powders, and lazy Sunday mornings. We delivered it all up until it spilled down the stairs and stuffed up the spaces under the pews.
Like all things that will someday seem obvious to little children reading history books, it’ll be too late by the time we realize that happiness is a fickle church of one. We won’t know it until we’re walking haphazardly through the parking lot one day to look up and find the church has gone–plucked up her skirt hem and scurried off the foundation. And our faith, just as fickle, will falter, as we try to rebuild to a new alter with searching hands. Maybe this time an exercise regime, self-help book, the occasional facial, or a new lover will stick enough to fill our souls.
I think of all this as I lay my body down on the unvacuumed floor of my daughter’s bedroom. It is her naptime, a time in which she’s taken to asking me to lay with her until she falls asleep. The floor is hard, and from my spot on the ground I can see the crumb of an old bagel I know I haven’t had in my pantry for two weeks. There are things to do both selfish and not. I have dishes to wash. I have words I to edit.
I’ve heard peers say that children mean the end of a life. I close my eyes, hoping she will mirror me. I think of all the things I would have been doing two years ago, before she came. In the sea of white noise, there is a gentle brushing on my hand as the tiny tips of her fingers dust mine. I can hear the soft smack of her lips blowing me kisses through the crib slats until I open my eyes.
“Hi Mama,” she whispers.
Or, in another, more ancient language, “Hallelujah.”
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