I first heard that I had childbearing hips before I even got my first period. One of my middle school classmates — a beauty with a coltish build — assessed my dumpy, dough-pale body in the locker room, and declared, without malice, that I had what her grandmother called “birthin’ hips.”
At 13, I had no idea what my thick hips had to do with birth, but I was terrified by the prospect of having to care for (another) someone else. I was the loud one who drew my father’s ire — and his fists — away from my brother. I was my mother’s “little hero”: the one who powdered her black eyes and told her she was still pretty, the one who swallowed her secrets so she could shimmer in the eyes of her fellow PTA members. She taught me to draw and to drive, to bake lasagna that would make men lick their plates and to fill up with Crystal Light and water so I wouldn’t be too hungry, wouldn’t eat too much of my own food.