This is what my mother said to me. Well, actually what she said was “No” (in response to the question “Do you think I should have kids?”) but I didn’t think that made a very good blog title. I asked her the question just before I surprised her with the news that my husband and I were going to adopt a child, so I set myself up to be especially dramatic and distressed by her answer (dysfunctional much?).
The reasons she said I shouldn’t have kids were two-fold:
1. She said no woman should have a child unless it was her intense heart’s desire to be a mother. And since I had spent most of my married life saying, “No, we don’t want kids. We are happy with our life as it is.” she felt pretty sure it wasn’t my heart’s desire.
2. She pointed out that I didn’t like kids. I didn’t. And I still don’t really like other people’s kids. (Except the kids of my friends who are reading this. I love your awesome, talented, wonderful kids, of course. Really…)
My mother was a smart woman. But she and I never really understood each other. She didn’t understand my life choices, I didn’t understand hers. We had exactly three things in common: a love of animals, a love of food, and a sense of humor. But I loved my mother very much and am sad that she never got to meet my son (she died of cancer earlier the year he was born).
And here’s the thing: she was right. I totally, completely, vehemently didn’t want kids…until I did. And the fact that I was over 40 when I finally did…well, that’s just the way it happened for me. There was a spell just after we were married that we “tried.” And when it didn’t happen for us in spite of the evil, crazy-making fertility drugs that I took, we stopped and said, “Wait. Is this even what we want? Or are we just doing this because we feel like that’s what we’re supposed to do–get married, buy a house, have a kid? So we embarked on a fun-filled 10 years of living child-free by choice. Getting lots of education, traveling, building our careers. Until we were 40-somethings saying, “What are we going to do for the next 40 years?”
Now I have an awesome, incredible, smart, hilarious son who is four and a half and I can’t imagine a life without him in it. Sure I get frustrated and tired and aggravated with him (as I’m sure he does me). That’s part of being a mom. But he’s the best part of my life…other than my husband, of course. (Dodging bullets left and right.). My sweet son makes my life richer. I have become more mindful because of him. I stop and look at bugs, pick flowers, sing songs, dance in the rain.
So mom was right. And wrong. Don’t have kids a moment before you are ready for them. But if you do have them–by choice or otherwise–give them your whole heart and embrace your “momness” (or “dadness”). No matter what anyone says.
Happy Mother’s Day.