Marriage and motherhood are the enemy of my dreams: A story from Literary Mama


Today on Facebook, I got a note from a former student about a story published in Literary Mama (one of my favorite sites). She said the story mentions my book, Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth about Motherhood. Intrigued, I click on the link to read the story. The mention is far down in the story, and almost inconsequential, but I found myself gripped by the writing and by Heidi's story. So, I wanted to share it here. I've posted the beginning but to read the full story, click on the link at the end. It's worth it! And would love to hear your comments on what you think of the story. 


by Heidi Reimer

The psychic is down-to-earth and expensive. My husband, Richard, is young. He lives in London, and has not yet moved to the US, where he will meet me, or to Canada, where he will marry me.

She tells him she sees him living on a lake, with twins.

I’m standing in my parents’ kitchen and I’m crying from a powerful and inexplicable connection to the baby I’ve claimed into my arms. Her name is Maia, her age is three months, and she is my teenage brother’s daughter. Richard and I are visiting my family at the Northern Ontario lake where my parents live. We’ve just flown in from a trip to England and are soon to head out again for summer in New York City. We’re stopping in to meet our new niece.

I am overcome.

I’ve held other babies, unmoved. I’m always a little anxious to pass them back. This baby stares at me and our knowledge of each other is in her blue eyes, there you are, so good to see you again. I cling to her and do not want to let her go.

“Is this your biological clock?” Richard asks, but I know these tears aren’t for a baby of my own. Something about this particular baby moves me. The only time a meeting has ignited such gut-level affinity, so bemusing and intense that I can barely look, is when I met Richard.

In the theology I was raised in, motherhood was woman’s calling. A good mother’s children were her life, and mother was her identity. She welcomed them, she did not limit their number, she devoted herself to nothing outside their well-being. I had no formative models of women who were anything but mothers. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said: “A writer and a wife and mother”. A writer because that’s what I wanted, a wife and mother because I was female and that’s what God made females for.

In my twenties my mantra became Marriage and motherhood are the enemy of my dreams. I left home to travel to Paris and Istanbul and Rome, to live in California and New York and Toronto, to immerse myself in literature, earn an education, work in eccentric bookstores and write stories in urban apartments and parks and cafés. To meet a man whose vision aligned with mine and whose support created space for me to flourish as a woman and writer. To struggle into my own model of what a woman’s life could be.

Marriage has proven a nurturer of my dreams, but I remain skeptical of childrearing. Despite occasional surges of baby desire, I don’t consider motherhood necessary to my fulfillment.

I am not certain I even have a biological clock.

Six months later, it’s Christmas, and Richard and I hole up in a guest room while snow floats and piles onto the frozen lake. My brother and his girlfriend have split up. He has brought nine-month-old Maia to the lake for the holiday and is struggling with her care.  Maia is passed between women, my mom, my sisters, me, all of us helping diaper and feed and soothe her in the absence of her mother. I volunteer for a night shift. Maia wakes well before dawn, and it’s Richard who stays with her in the tree-lit living room while I slump back to bed, thinking This is insane, I could never do this every night. When I wake in the morning, Richard has her nestled in the bed between us. She sits up and flashes an exuberant smile.

To read the full version of this story, please click here.

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