When I Say I Do Not Want Children

There is a gulf between my head, heart, and body that it is not possible to close

Stephanie Eisler Vance
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readSep 22, 2021

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This piece was first performed on September 16, 2021 at Parkside Lounge in New York City.

It is dedicated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, five members of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the 87th Legislature of the state of Texas.

My body wants to bear children.

My body wants to bear children so badly, it will latch onto the tiniest seed of possibility, and it will grow a garden of it. I know this because it has tried. The body wants what it wants, and the body does not lie.

It is not a lie, though, to say I do not want children. Though I have imagined holding a tiny human to my chest, gentle sway and low hum. What a hummingbird heartbeat that I made, beating out of time and against my skin, would feel like.

I have imagined this, I have imagined all manner of things, and it is not a lie to say I do not want children.

When I say I do not want children, I mean there is not a man alive I would trust to be my baby daddy. Which you could call a “me” problem, but “me” “us” “him” “them” what exactly is the difference?

The men I have known, the men who refuse to grow up, get up, sack up, put up, shut up, is this something we can legislate?

The men who enjoy the parts of me but will not take responsibility for the whole because it is too vast to consume. Who say, “I don’t feel anything with this on, can’t we just keep going anyway,”

Who do not know what to do, and so do nothing. They do not know that “nothing,” too, is a choice — something, a kinder option, but even the best laid plans of trust and support fall short when one of us is now eating for two.

When I say I do not want children, I mean there is a gulf between my head, heart, and body that it is not possible to close, and who gave you the mystical powers to press that gulf shut from all the way over there?

The audacity — forced life as anything other than torture, a bounty on the heads of women in Texas not an outrage against their dignity. Let’s add that one to the Geneva Conventions. Oh…

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