A thought keeps buzzing around my head. It’s been there for roughly the time my son’s been alive, plus ten months or so, and I figure if I write it down and give it credence it might go away, so hear me out. Please.
Women are like human matryoshka dolls. You know those Russian nesting dolls, where you start with a large one (but never unfeasibly large) and when you look inside there’s a slightly smaller one, and inside that another and another and another.
I bought one once while travelling through Russia from a market outside Moscow, and despite being tiny, it still managed ten dolls, one inside the other.
When my mum was dying (roughly the age of my son, plus eleven months ago) I told her we were trying to get pregnant. We had been trying for nearly two years (if somewhat haphazardly) and I wasn’t feeling positive, but she made me promise I would name my baby after her. A promise I made, because I was so convinced that if we did have a baby it would be a girl. After all she had two girls, my sister had two girls. Seemingly all of my friends had two girls (they didn’t, but our wedding was like some kind of fairy rampage).
When we saw him on the scan, and the scan operator said he was a boy (she said ‘you can never be 100 per cent sure, but there’s his penis and those are his testicles’), we were both in shock, because we were SO sure we were having a girl.
And I had been having this thought, ever since I promised my mum, that here was I in the early part of the 21st century, a woman who came out of a woman, and she in turn came out of a woman, and her mother before her, back before records began, back to the dawn of humanity, women coming out of women coming out of women, too many to comprehend. And I was the end of the line, and I didn’t want to be. There’s something crazy powerful in that chain. It’s the branch of the family tree where the names change the most frequently, but the connection feels the most physical.
But ‘the age of my son plus nine months’ ago we managed to get pregnant and that was that. I’m a matryoshka doll.
But every man. Every single man (I newly thought after my shock at the scan) is the tiny doll at the very centre of the matryoshka doll. The end of the line.
What I can’t get past is, why that sounds sad, because it shouldn’t be. My son is awesome for one. Really awesome, but the end of the line feels strange. And it’s not just men obviously, And this isn’t about judging women who don’t have children, for any reason. I think it’s kind’ve selfish to have them if I’m honest. It’s not about that at all.
Maybe he should own it. Maybe all tiny matryoshka dolls should own it. Celebrate it!
It’s a weird thought, but apparently there’s no shaking it, so I’m sharing it instead.
And here, take a look at the last few dolls in my own personal matryoshka.