Saturday, April 19, 2008

wet nurse

Anna called me mid-morning. I was preparing for my first big meeting with the head of the department.

I was pressed for time but I put my notebook down. She was telling me about the house she was looking at when I remembered my dream.

"I had a dream last night that I was breastfeeding a newborn baby."

For a moment I forgot about the meeting and I forgot about the phone, lost in the details; the dark haired baby, swaddled firmly in white flannel. There was a time when swaddling sick babies was my specialty. But this was different.

"It was so real."

"Ew", she laughed, bringing me back to the conversation. "You were a wet nurse?"

She might as well have kicked me in the stomach.

The more I think about it the more it bothers me. I mean, is this how my friends see me? I can't be a mother even in my own dreams?

I am the best friend a girl could ask for; I have perfected the science. I love their children. I am their Tia Rachel or their Auntie Rachel. But I am more maternal than most of my friends put together—they would tell you that—and yet a dream like that to Anna could only mean I am lending out my services in some sad role straight out of the dark ages or some la leche breastfeeding cult.

If she had time to consider her reaction she wouldn't have said it. I know that. She didn't mean to hurt me. I guarantee she doesn't even know she did. But the message was loud and clear, from a place that never lies.

As I type this the phone rings. It's Anna.

"Fuck you", I say to my empty apartment. I let it ring.

2 comments:

Transcience said...

It's probably not much consolation, but my gut reaction told me your dream baby was yours, really yours. It's a nice feeling and fits my picture of you. Unfortunately, responses like Anna's are all too revealing. It's typically the result of a serious asymmetry in the relationship, one that's perhaps always been there but hurts all the more when you realize it at long last. When you do have a baby, she's probably not going to be Doda Anna to your child the way you're Auntie/Tia Rachel to hers. I'm not sure why it's so hard to tell people that they're being rude. I think you should let her read what you wrote. She'll apologize half-heartedly without absorbing the lesson, but at least you can say you tried.

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