Jealousy is a pretty ugly emotion isn't it? It signals insecurity and lack of trust; acted upon it can make us possessive, suspicious and obsessive. It is hard enough to be jealous of a friend's promotion, the neighbours' bigger salary, your partner's friendship with an ex; it makes us feel petty and we are ashamed of those emotions, we keep them hidden. How much worse it is to covet another person's child.
I will admit it to you, Dear Reader, because I can reveal nothing to the excited young man across the table who has recently received letters from his extended family. His face is lit up with joy at such an unexpected delivery and there is hopeful expectancy of restored relationships with relatives he hasn't seen since he was a little boy. I recognize the look, it is the same pure happiness I have seen when his dad makes the occasional effort to phone or he tells me his mum has invited him over for tea. I am pleased for him; more than that, I know that this is crucial if he is to come to terms with the rejection that has been a massive hole inside him for the last eight years. Nonetheless I am jealous.
I want to ask where the hell they have been for the last twenty years, when the world was falling in around him. Where was this family when the police called in the middle of the night? Where were they all the times he went missing? Why aren't they regulars in the visits hall? Why don't they know what his favourite meals are, what kind of music he likes, what position he plays on the football pitch? Where were they all those times he needed to talk something through? You see, I am insanely jealous because I know these facts, I have been there during the crises but the one thing I cannot do is give birth to him and when it comes down to it he may well need me but he wants them. I am glimpsing the future right now and I suspect cynically that his family will only be there for the good times, for the occasions when he is behaving how they want him to, for Christmas and birthdays. And me? I am always here for the daily mess, the meltdowns and emergencies, but will probably be spending those special days alone with one eye on my phone in case I'm needed.