Reflection: The Ghost Ship

Reflection: The Ghost Ship

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What if?

Speaking to Myriam about her decision to have a baby on her own (Episode 1: Catalogue Baby) reminded me of an essay by Cheryl Strayed (aka Dear Sugar) that I read years ago called The Ghost Ship That Didn't Carry Us.

It's a response to a reader who couldn't decide whether to have kids. Dear Sugar asked the reader to imagine parallel lives: one with kids, and one without. The Ghost Ship is a reference to the life we could have chosen, but didn't. It's a nod to regret, and loss, and unanswered questions.

Myriam is clear that her future included children of her own. I'm clear that mine doesn't. 

But I'm still curious about that ghost ship. I'm curious about regret.

Because the only information I can draw upon to figure out what I'll regret (besides talking to friends and family) are the stories we're told about motherhood: stories of love and sacrifice and selflessness and worthiness. 

The same stories, by the way, that shame women who choose not to have children—by telling us we're making a huge mistake, that we're selfish, that we're unwilling to love that deeply.

So...how true are those stories? I'm willing to call BS on most of them.

Except the one about love. I believe that one.

I believe that the love for your child is the deepest you'll ever know. I believe it's profound and irreplaceable. Do I regret losing the opportunity to experience that? Hell yes.

But not enough to turn my back on what I've already chosen. Not enough to chase that ghost ship.

What about you? How have you imagined your ghost ship? Tell me in the comments.

PS. Did I send you down a Dear Sugar rabbit hole? You're welcome! :)


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