One of the bravest acts you can do as a person is bring a child into this world. Coincidentally, I have to send my congratulations to our maid of honor and her hubby for their beautiful first baby girl Abby and to my best-man and his wife on the up and coming birth of their third child. I’ve never been that brave, mostly because for the better part of my life I’ve been a clichéd man-child over thirty trying to find his face in a placeless world. I found myself wandering hiding myself in various affairs of lust, making believe that those lovers and time we shared were bathed in love. It was unfair but I just wasn’t ready. Looking back, no matter how painful, I know I’ve definitely made the right choices.
It’s amazing how much of Mami and Papi’s parental ways creep into my own idea of bringing up a child. I admit I haven’t been the best son and my relationship with my parents had been turbulent and worst of all distant. It’s improving, slowly, all the time. I realized recently all of the pain and mistrust I’ve shared with my parents, it’s amazing they still support me, emotionally, in any capacity. If I was my Papi or Mami, I probably would have given up on me, their son, long ago and that’s a good reason as any not to be a father at this place and time.
Recently, I’ve been recently going back to listen to Marianne Faithfull’s honest album Before The Poison. One of the best songs on the album is a collaboration between two of my favorite artists, Faithfull and Polly Jean Harvey, “No Child of Mine.” Faithfull described the partnership between her and PJ in her book Memories, Dreams & Reflections when she wrote, ““No Child of Mine” is another Polly song. Journey of the mother to the son, which naturally I identify with, considering my somewhat fraught relationship with my son Nicholas. So for me its meaning fluctuates, depending on how we’re getting along. Songs tend to change their meanings as the years go on. When Nicholas and I had our last big row, it meant one thing, now it means something else. I’ve changed the lyrics slightly.”
I actually prefer Marianne’s rendition to Polly Jean’s original version found in her 2004 album Uh-Huh-Her because Faithfull has been through childbirth, she has children and when singing a song called “No Child of Mine” being a mother makes a difference in the reading and delivery of the song. Faithfull has gone through the imperfect pain and promise of raising a child. All of the memories bright and dark come through in Marianne’s honest lyric. “No Child of Mine” is the most perfect Polly Jean song that Marianne faithfully covers on Before the Poison. If you’re a parent, young or old, you will feel the conflicting emotions when Marianne sings, “I have no time for hate or love/ hey, child, you’re so full of woe/ I have no time for hate or lying/ hey, child, you’re no child of mine.”
Polly Jean describing the tumultuous Uh Huh Her sessions said of the experience in recording such personal songs like “No Child of Mine,” “[It was] completely draining, disorienting, exasperating, invigorating, exhilarating. One of the hardest pieces of work I’ve ever done. I wanted to get back to the earthy, more dirty side of things. I wanted it to be ugly in places but also a real honesty and intimacy. Definitely this whole album is much more to do with missing out on being a mother.”
“No Child of Mine” is one of the definite highlights from Marianne Faithfull’s Before The Poison and one that should be experienced by all parents new and seasoned. When I hear “No Child of Mine” Faithfull’s chillingly honest vocal brings the joyful worry about bringing children into this world vivid and achingly realistic.
When I hear Faithfull candidly sing Polly Jean’s words on “No Child of Mine” I know, the time is not right for us to have our own children. One of the main reason we’re not parents is that the last few years, financially, have been a struggle just to come up with enough funds to feed ourselves. The way we see it, if we can’t even eat ourselves, how are we going to feed a child? That’s why I am amazed at how our friends are having children during these haphazard financial times. I applaud them, they are brave and natural parents. We long to be like proud and dedicated parents our good friends Wendy and Eric & Gregorio and Julie, but we just aren’t there yet. My wife and I have had conversations but knowing we’re not ready for kids is a big step for us. I know both our sets of parents are looking forward to us procreating and expanding our family. It is in the horizon, having children, just not around the corner for us to have our own beautiful offspring. When we are ready, we will be ready for the signs. Until then songs like “No Child of Mine” reflect the right choices we are making by knowing, loving and embracing moments with each other and our kitties on this journey in our ever evolving private universe.