Please don’t be offended and please read to the end before you get upset with me!
I know not everyone wants kids. I never thought I wanted them, either. Never, never, NEVER! I couldn’t imagine anything more tedious than taking care of a child day after day. What was with people who wanted babies? What was wrong with them? All of them mental I tell you. I used to think about diapers and potty training and baby drool and all I could say was that it wasn’t for me. Besides for that, I didn’t feel I had one maternal bone in my body. I would never know how to be a parent. I would never be good at it. The thought of my own child terrified me.
Fast forward a few years… my kids are 12, 8, 2 and 1. They are the light of my world. I couldn’t imagine life any other way. I had my first child at 18. Here’s that awesome kid in his fall football picture…
Before you peg me as becoming a “simple minded baby machine” for lack of other options — I did have other options. Full scholarship to play soccer, a promising career in engineering, singing in a rock band… I had endless opportunities and possibilities, and I don’t regret for one second becoming a parent. There is nothing I can or will do that could ever be more important to me than being my kids’ mother.
So how did I go from the girl who was never going to have kids, to mother of four? I can’t tell you there was a moment I changed, or a moment I felt adequately prepared. I don’t think that moment ever happens for a lot of people. What changed is that I became a parent. And suddenly, nothing else mattered as much as that child. Pure love. Pure joy. Pure bliss. There is a “mom mode” that happens when you have a baby (I’m sure there’s a “dad mode”, too, though I can’t say I’ve ever gone into “dad mode”).
I cannot begin to explain the absolute love that you will feel for your child. You might think you love your parents or your siblings or your friends’ kids… but there is a whole other level of love and attachment that is reserved for one’s own children. I cannot help wishing everyone could experience this all encompassing selfless love.
(I just changed a dirty diaper, and all I could think of was how cute that cooing chubby little guy is, and how much I love him. Even his stinky diapers are cute. I’m not kidding. After I changed his diaper I picked him up and he gave me a big drooly kiss on my cheek. Priceless.)
I’ve seen something really sad happening in our culture. We see women in the media having their first baby in their late thirties, early forties, late forties — sometimes in their fifties. That’s wonderful for them, but we don’t take into account that many of these women have had fertility treatments, donor eggs, surrogate gestational carriers, etc. These things are often not attainable for the average woman. It’s a heartbreaking event for a woman who wants a child to find that her fertility is not cooperating. I’ve seen women and couples who — like me — never wanted a baby… but sometimes they change their mind. I’ve had more than a few friends confide that they want a child and can’t have one or that they wanted to have more children, but ran out of time.
Our culture keeps telling us women that we can “have it all” (whatever that actually means.) But we aren’t men, and we don’t have unlimited fertility. We never know when the magic number will hit. Will we be able to have kids in our forties? Will we be able to have them in our thirties? The number is different for each woman. And — unfair as it is to have to worry about our fertility — this is our reality as women. (I don’t think women should ever be criticized for their desire to have a family along with — or rather than — conquering the world. Sometimes having a family is conquering the world. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” comes to mind…)
It’s been said that there’s no greater pain for a parent than losing a child. I would imagine that the pain of wanting a child and not having one could be comparable, and further compounded by the fact it’s often an invisible pain. A loss that a woman feels, but one that goes unseen. I will cry along with you, my friend, if you should ever experience that pain — I wish, with all my heart, you never will.
I don’t want to end this so sadly, so I will end by saying that being a mother has never prevented me from chasing my dreams. I still love the things I was passionate about before becoming a mother — writing, reading, creating, soccer, baseball, snow sports, photography. I’ve incorporated it all into being a parent… I blog about my kids, write children’s stories, officiate soccer, coach my kids in baseball, snowboard with my kids; I color and draw with them (their artwork goes on the fridge, and mine goes into my books), and I finally have the most beautiful subjects in my photographs (though I admit to being as biased as every other mom when judging my own children’s beauty). There is something so special about sharing your passions with your children — to teach what you love to the ones you love most. How could parenting be anything but amazing?
I realize that some people do not want and will not ever have children, and I respect their decision. It is theirs to make.
I know it’s annoying for someone to be constantly asked when they are going to have a baby . I’m sure it is difficult not to take offense. If someone asks when you are going to have a child, please believe they are complimenting you (they know you would make a fantastic parent) and they wish for you to share in the joy they have found in parenting. For myself, I will try not to ask… but know that I’m hoping, should you choose to become a parent, that you will experience the same ethereal love I never knew I was going to discover.