So, I’m a sucker for Olympic gymnastics, and even sort of a sucker for the sappy “Up Close and Personal” biographical coverage of the athletes. Here’s what caught my attention last night:
In the fuzzily-lit, overdramatic story on the Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina, she looks at the camera and says, I want to win as much as I want to mother my own child.
Let’s aside for a moment most of the reasons why the media coverage of this woman is grossly sexist. Also, let’s set aside the word own in my own child, which has some shades of unfairness as far as how to make a family.
Those things aside, I find it really heartening that Khorkina used this comparison publicly, and that it seems to have as much resonance for the mostly-fertile general public as it does for me. As much as I want to mother my own child. It’s reassuring to me that people see how great this want can be.
And also, I wonder if some of the meaner media commentary on Khorkina has its roots tangled up with this want. Women aren’t supposed to want things so much, are we? When we do, we are called self-indulgent. Or greedy. Or divas.
So much of the nasty stuff that infertile women deal with seems to come from others denying our desire, trying to dampen the strength of our wanting. On blogs I’ve been reading this last week, there’s been some great talk on the ways this happens, the things people say: You won’t care that you were never pregnant, and Pregnancy isn’t that great, and Be glad you have one child and don’t be greedy for another.
It’s not only the well-meaning others that do this. I think we do it inside ourselves, too. Deny our want. Minimize it. I know I do. I can barely ever get up the strength to acknowledge how much I want the whole experience of pregnancy, birth, breast-feeding, baby. I carry it around inside me, another kind of embryo.
Even if I never give birth to a baby, at least I can keep nurturing this want ’til it presses out at the sides of me, and finally let it out into the world, hollering at the top of its lungs.