Motherhood leaves permanent milk stains on you. While the kids play boy as girl games and people enquire as to my pronouns, I want to show them my permanent milk stains and flash my own personal womanhood in response to their ridiculousness. What else can I be? Can I sew on a dick to my mons pubis and declare myself a Leather Queen, hand on hip, aping Lou Reed as he stands there in the glory of love snarling about playing for the coach? I guess I could. I could shave my head again, I could admire the straight lines under my tee shirt, my tits squashed to nothingness by the wrong bras sent by Amazon. I could say “fuck this!” and shed my womanhood like a snake sheds it’s skin as Eve stands there admiring the apple of forbidden knowledge. I could. There may have been a time that I might have made a grand play for a shining spot in the Patriarchy and reframed myself as a bisexual man. Come, on…no guy can be straight and remain actually cool, and by now you all know how enamored I am of cool. I would insist coolly that I would not be discounted as a sexual partner by any gay man I took a shine to, not on account of my cunt or my tits or the blinding reality of my sex. I would be an asshole, like men are wont to be. It would be fun.
Except it really isn’t me. It REALLY isn’t me. I used to be mockingly called by the name of a butch lesbian character in a British TV show – Ms. Cissy – by my mother and sister. They found it hilarious. I was demanded to remain in the closet while everyone really know the joke, and the joke was on me. I was the chick in the suit and a monocle who dashingly danced with pretty young things. Meanwhile I conducted a furtive affair with my “best friend”, hiding behind the fact that girls hold hands, girls cuddle up and are close and touch and hug. All of this while we ran to underpasses and literal closets to kiss and try and find a way out of her arranged marriage hell and my terrible homophobic and racist family. We failed. She died. Cancer, nothing she had any control over. She died, and I ran away from home, from my place at a top university, from life. She died and I chased her, shooting smack in squats. I chased her and I failed. She was always too quick for me. This was before Permanent milk stains dragged me under the surface of the water, drowning me in that which was wholly not about me. I had been abused as a child. She had been adored. I hated myself and the world around me, she hung onto life, squeezing the pips out of the orange and letting the juice run over her face laughing at me.
So I was born. I shed those possibilities of happiness like a second skin, and raw and hurt and lost I ran on towards my certain fate. “Milk blood to keep from running out” sang Neil on the stereo. I started to date men. Screw men. I hated it, but it didn’t matter. I could make it be me. I could force myself to be who everyone else demanded I would be or else suffer the consequences. I thought it would fix me. It didn’t.
I became pregnant, aborting it in a clinic that I had to fight past protestors who snarled and shouted and threw things at me, and chanted outside while I cried. I decided very shortly after that what I wanted was motherhood. I wanted to be tattooed, claimed, transformed.
When I became pregnant with her, nobody had told me that pregnancy was a bootcamp for motherhood. Nobody warned me of the strain on my body, or the changing shape, or the stretch marks or that my neat body would become messy and leaky and fecund. I hated it. I hated the marks it left on me. I mourned my lithe slimness, my tiny little neat boobs, I mourned my tidiness. She was born and nobody warned me that the damage was permanent. The from that point on, it is written in your body, in your heart that you now wear outside your body, in the hand of a tiny tyrant, in your face and your tiredness and your lack of possibilities, and your lack of time for anything other than your Mistress or Master, that wakes you up every two hours demanding your body to their use, demanding your attention, your devotion, your health, your fitness, you everything. From that point, you are Mother, and your needs, your dreams and desires are masked by those permanent milk stains on your soul.
She was a bad baby. She cried constantly, she would not put on weight, then steroids made her put on too much. She pulled away from me. She was always unwell scaring me with her fragility. I loved her so immensely that it threatened to drag me under. She had been so premature that she could not breathe. The beating her father gave me expelling her from my body, leading her to try and escape too early. I stumbled down the stairs of the apartment, and into motherhood alone. We never recovered. Not either of us. Not me from the shock and the pain, nor her from the physical after effects. She was blue and limp and I was keening in terror and pain.
It never stopped. Pump milk. Feed baby. Top up with formula. Repeat. She never stopped crying and neither did I. I have no idea how we made it through, but we did. We made it all the way to the next baby. The Boy. He came lazily late, big and healthy, screaming and pink. The midwife declared him “a man” and I lay there stupefied with love.
Alone with two kids until I was dragged back to Japan, I became an entertainer, a reader of stories, a walker in parks, a feeder of ducks. Everyone within a five mile radius had seen my boobs, as I fed my baby. My older one jealous and possessive of the little one’s new domain. I was not my own. I hadn’t been for years. I did not know who I was, or who I might be. I barely remembered who I had been, drunk on tiredness and boredom. Looking back I long for those days, at the time I could not hurry out of them quick enough.
The scars on my belly, the stains on my clothes, the pull of pregnancy on my body, and the furnace of motherhood transforming me from someone you wouldn’t leave a hamster with, into a vague approximation of motherly devotion, all scream WOMAN. It is written, tattooed, engraved upon me. Woman. It is my womanhood. It isn’t others. I never really knew what it meant until I had that transformative experience of being forced into selflessness. Into taking beatings upon beatings in order to stay in protect them. Dehumanized. Turned into a No Face protective spirit, my only worth through them and them only. The stains of childhood abuse upon me rearing their head as I put myself between my children and danger, both real and perceived. The sins of their father upon us, casting shadows over my efforts. Time marches on. I’m old and tired and finally at peace with myself. I won’t ever conform to gender stereotypes, instead settled into a comfortable soft butchness, the only family I have – the Boy – is threatening to drag his lesbian mother to Pride, a gesture to tell me he is proud of me and who I am, instead of mocking or ashamed. He even declared he is “cool” with my dating …the right woman of course…I ask him if he is gay. He tells me he likes girls. I’m vaguely sad, as we laugh at his indignant reply. I resent it when people ask if I might prefer He or They. Are they mocking me? Are they trying to insult me? Did I not earn She? Was it not enough? I subjugated my needs, my fun, my freedom totally. I almost didn’t survive men, and they ask me if I prefer to be called a dude? Are they actually fucking kidding me?
I look at their eager young faces…and decide…the Kids are Alright. I don’t like what they are up to…but they are alright. In as much as they don’t care if I don’t like being called cis, I don’t care much about their authoritarian demands that put their fads and fashions in words over my own personal autonomy. I am me. It has been a long hard journey and I am not part of their movement or their hang ups and I’m done with the days that babies were tyrants over me. I’m going to live my life as I want to, as paltry as it is. I am Woman. You do you…..but you sure as heck are not going to tell me how to do me.