I will never know a mother’s love. Let me be clear, because this is not about MY mother. For as long as I can remember, I knew that I did not want children. I did not have a single shred of desire to be a mother. I am sure that being a mother is great, in the same way that eating a raw onion and garlic salad would be just lovely for some people. I am not one of those people.
Motherhood never interested me in the slightest. For me, pregnancy seems unpleasant. I was accidently there at the moment my nephew was born, and I swear my ovaries jumped out of my belly button and ran away. I mean sure, not-so-baby nephew is adorable as are all of my nephews and nieces. But the single best part for me is that being an aunt means I can spoil them rotten, pack them full of Oreos and ice cream, and send them home. I love those kids, but they are not born of me.
Through this cancer journey, I’ve become aware of certain things that make me very lucky in unusual ways. I was already in a position where I had been permanently sterilized. I did not have any fertility to preserve or lose. When the social worker brought it up, I was almost dismissive, which probably seemed cold and insensitive, but I had just found out I had incurable brain cancer, and frankly, my uterus has always been more trouble than it was worth. Not only was I lucky that this was a non-issue for me, but as I became more involved in the cancer community, especially the young adult groups, my eyes were opened to a major emotional blind spot that I had simply never noticed. When I noticed this blind spot, I had a moment of despair, not for the children I would never have, but for the cancer survivors, my close friends, who I knew desperately wanted children and had the option ripped away from them, often literally cut out of their future. Inside of them lives the evil of cancer and the everflowing fountain of love for children who will only ever exist as tragic ghosts hiding in the deepest corners of regret.
I see my sisters and brother, and the neverending love they have for those children. They sacrifice, they give everything to make their children’s lives better every day, all night. I honestly don’t know that I could do that. Raising a family is hard, and knowing just how hard my own mother worked is humbling. Am I just too selfish to be a mother? Maybe some people just aren’t meant to be mothers. In the meantime, my cancer journey has revealed a special secret to me. Some people have that overflowing abundance of mother’s love. I have somehow been blessed to have acquired additional mothers over the past year. My friends’ mothers look out for me. They love and support me like I am one of their own. COVID quarantine keeps visits rare, but they reach out in a way that makes me feel the abundance of mother’s love. I will never know mother’s love as a mother, and although that makes me wonder what legacy I will leave behind, I know that there is so much love flowing from mothers that I never have to feel alone. To all of my mothers, near and far, I love you as only a daughter can.
– Melissa Mateo Blank
How would you respond to the writing prompt, the image of a crib mobile?
This writing comes directly from one of our participants in our Unspoken Ink Creative Writing Group for young adult cancer survivors. The participants met for 2 hours each week, for 8 weeks during our Spring 2020 session. This writing has not been edited since its original creation, showing the wonderfully raw and powerful prose coming from the courageous writing group participants each week. If you’d like to sign up for future sessions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up on our interest form.