My mother’s mother had nine children
and at twenty I didn’t aspire to quite
that many, but certainly four or five or six.
I would somehow fit them in between
writing books, teaching college, and a
fabulously complex love life.

When my serious boyfriend didn’t want
children, I didn’t take it seriously.
Maybe I wouldn’t stay with him, or maybe
he would change his mind, or maybe
our mutual girlfriend and I would raise
children together and he would live
in a little apartment nearby and visit.

By thirty-two, it had gotten serious,
and we’d broken up over it, more than once.
Over other things too, but in large part
it was the kids thing. He moved to Chicago
and I stayed in Salt Lake City, spent most
of a year crying and writing, writing and crying.

In the end, we couldn’t bear to be apart.
He flew out and convinced me to join him
and for a year, he tried to want children
and for another year, I tried not to. We failed.

When, at thirty-five, uterine fibroids turned out
likely not serious, but possibly fertility-
threatening, I cried for two solid months.
One day, I woke up crying; he drove me to work
crying. I pulled myself together enough to teach
my classes, and then he drove me home, crying.

After that I told him, I guess I have to have kids.
I’m not breaking up with you, so it’s your choice.
Stick around if you want to. I started researching
adoption, which turned out to be expensive.

After a few months of saving, he said if I was going
to do this kids thing, he’d rather I did it with him.
So at thirty-five, I had a daughter, and at thirty-
seven, I had a son, and now she is turning ten
and I’ve been with the boyfriend for twenty-five years.

The numbers don’t really add up the way they’re
supposed to, but they do accumulate beautifully.