A great lesson learned over time
While I answered it truthfully, there is one big thing about my life in 1998 that I didn’t share because it is a little too complicated to boil down into one simple statement in a meme.
Ten years ago, I was 100% determined to never be a mother. I “decided” back in high school not to have children and I stuck to my conviction through college and many years beyond.
My reasons for not wanting children ranged from the selfish (I like being able to pick up and go, and I like my sleep too much) to the profound (This world has too many problems; why bring an innocent life into it?)
I had a hard time envisioning myself happy as the full-time caregiver to another person. I was too self-centered, I reasoned. I wanted to travel and eat in nice restaurants. I wanted to spend my money on clothing and cars, not diapers or toys. I wanted to be able to pick up and move where ever, whenever.
I did not believe that a life involving children – a life that required constant giving to another human being – could be one of true happiness for me.
But sometime after getting married, my attitude began to shift. It was subtle of course – like watching the tide come in on a rocky shoreline. The sea slowly takes over the beach until the jagged rocks are no longer visible under the turbulent water. Like those rocks, my resolve not to have a baby was slowly and surely drowned under the deeper desire to be a mother. And once my fears and doubts were drowned out, they could not be resuscitated.
Today, almost five years after giving birth to my first child, I find myself unable to imagine what my world would be like without them – my daughters – my blood, my flesh.
Which is not to say that raising children is easy. I get up in the pre-dawn hours several nights a week to comfort a crying child. I sweep the hair out of tear-rimmed eyes and kiss boo-boos. I find myself frustrated when my requests are ignored and when bad behavior takes over. I clean up puke and poop and fetch milk and sweep countless pieces of O-shaped cereal off my floor. I drop whatever I’m doing to read the same mindless stories over and over again. It takes me half an hour to leave the house for even the most routine errands.
Yet I am happy. Truly.
Each day, I give and receive endless bear hugs and kisses. I’m awed by my daughters’ amazing growth and development. My heart swells with joy watching them play and learn. I sneak into their rooms and watch them sleep, overwhelmed by how peaceful they are and the limitless love I feel for them. The highlight of a long day at work comes at the end when I walk through the door and hear, “Mommy!” followed by a cavalcade of racing footsteps and a rush of sticky fingers.
I am settled and complete in the decision to become a mother. It has made me a better person – less selfish and more centered.
Yesterday, on a gorgeous spring day the three of us picnicked together in our yard. The air was warm and full of the promise of summer. We sat together eating pretzels and grapes and then lay back to watch the clouds pass overhead. We snuggled and daydreamed and laughed.
Ten years ago I thought becoming a mother was solely about giving – giving life, giving up your dreams, giving, giving, giving.
But my children have added more love and joy to my life than I ever imagined. The gifts they give me are too numerous to tally. I am so grateful that I had the chance to figure that out.