I don’t have any children. It was a choice…one I sometimes regret, sometimes am glad I made. But it was a painful choice. It is more painful now, looking back, understanding more clearly and fully why I did what I did, than it was at the time I made the decision. Life is like that. It’s often more clear in the rear view mirror. I made the decision when I was 16 years old, sitting in American History Class. The memory is extremely clear. As was often the case in that class because I found history to be boring, my mind was wandering. That particular day, I was writing out a list of names I liked, potential names for the daughter I hoped to have someday. Zoe, Heather, Hannah, Michaela, Addison, Maddie, Mackenzie…I had a long list. I often wondered what she would be like, this child I vowed to love and give my life to. But as I wrote, some nasty persistent thoughts kept interrupting my pleasant musings. I began thinking about something I had recently read, a story about how abused children often grew up to be abusers themselves. When I could no longer ignore my nagging thoughts about the story, I stopped writing. Contemplated the implications of the research. Looked over the names I had written. Thought some more, American History now the furthest thing from my mind. It was an important moment, one that is indelibly etched in my memory. It was one of those moments when everything comes together and something significant happens. A shift takes place. Something that changes the course of your life forever. I knew in my heart I wouldn’t abuse a child, or at least, I felt strongly I didn’t have it in me to do something like that. I never wanted to hurt anyone the way I had been hurt. Quite the opposite. But I was suddenly acutely aware of the big holes in my soul and I felt fearful this might cause me to be unable to give a child all the things they would need to grow into a happy, healthy, normal adult. Sydney, Whitney, Madison, Holly, Lexie, Jillian, Sadie… The more I thought about the risk, the sadder I felt. Marne, Haley, Willow, Quinn, Jordan, Quincy… I stared at the list, rereading each name. The sadness became overwhelming. Turned into grieving. I remember finally quietly but firmly folding up the paper, placing it between the pages of my notebook. Tucking it away. Knowing I would never use it. At that moment, the decision was made. I couldn’t take the chance. I couldn’t risk it. This was when I knew I would never have a child. I never really looked back once the decision was made. There was a time in my early 30’s when I asked God if I had made the right choice. I gave Him permission to change my mind if I had not been thinking clearly when I originally thought it through as a 16 year old girl in American History class. He was silent. I took that as agreement. But sometimes it really hurts. It hurts that I have never been pregnant. Never felt a child move inside of me. Never held my baby in my arms. Never been able to pour myself out for another being I loved more than life itself. That I never got to go through the ups and downs, rediscovering the beauty of life, watching their innocence, their puzzlement, seeing them grow. Never got to observe those first steps, their first love, their first kiss, graduation, marriage, jobs. That I will never receive a Mother’s Day card. That I will never know the joy of having a grandchild. It hurts that the first time I was on the maternity ward of the hospital was to recover after having a hysterectomy. That when I die, no one will cherish my belongings, have good memories of me, want the poems and songs I have written over the years. No one will miss me. My passing will not impact a single soul. To the child of my heart: I loved you enough not to have you, as strange as that sounds. I was afraid, I admit it. Afraid I couldn’t be a good enough mother to give you all that you would need to grow strong and whole. There were so many things I didn’t have that I needed. So many things I had that damaged me. I didn’t know if I could overcome the damage and still equip you to be a healthy adult. I was afraid my lack would cause me to fail you. I was fearful of deeply hurting you. Injuring you. So even though I dreamed about you, longed for you and wrote out lists of names that I thought would express how special you were, I realized I needed to think of you first. It wasn’t about me and what I wanted. It was about your heart, your life, your wholeness, your soul. Which, when it came down to it, meant not having a baby, a child, just to satisfy me. It meant thinking about you, your needs, what I could give you, what I might not be able to give you, and making a decision that was best for you. I would have rather died than hurt you. And I was terrified I would badly wound you the way I had been wounded. Oh, I felt certain I wouldn’t do the things to you that had been done to me. But did I have what you would need? Could I give you a stable, healthy, loving foundation? I was afraid I would fail you too many times. Destroy you unintentionally. Shatter you. Break your spirit. So I gave you up. I gave up the dream of having a little girl of my own. I missed you; miss you still. I guess I failed you, regardless of the choice I made. But I did what I did because I felt it was the right thing. For you. I was trying to be unselfish. Even though it hurt. I have broken wings. I didn’t know if I could give you strong wings that would carry you high and far and allow you to soar, considering I had never flown myself. I pray I made the right decision. It was a decision born of love…and fear. But also of logic. I pray my logic was sound. I pray my love for you guided me in the right direction. I guess we both have paid the price of my having been abused…abuse that resulted in my shattered heart and broken wings. Because of this, we both lost our life. And neither one of us will ever fly.