As my husband and I approach our seventh year together and our second wedding anniversary, we are fielding more and more “when will the babies come?” questions from friends and family. They have led to a few late night, not-so-serious baby discussions between us, but in all honesty, we are still really enjoying living child-free. Sorry, beautiful sisters of mine. You can put away your basal thermometers.
After we got married, some of my husband’s friends teased him that my baby fever would immediately kick in and I’d be begging for his offspring. To my surprise and his relief, the exact opposite has happened. I feel so very content with our life together that I often get scared of adding another human into the mix. Especially one who is so demanding, irrational, and always mysteriously sticky.
But what scares me most about having a child is not the sudden, daunting responsibility, the sleepless nights, or even the finger painting with poopy diapers. What scares me most is myself. Rather, who I’ll become.
To be completely candid– I’m scared of becoming a bitter, self-absorbed, miserable person. How could I not be? So often I’ll ask a mother how parenthood is, or even how she is doing in general, and her response is negative, complete with eye rolls and heavy sighs. Is this simply out of habit, it’s just the “go to” answer for parents, or is it genuinely how she feels most of the time as a mom? The knee-jerk negativity is usually followed by something like, “but it’s the most rewarding job in the world and I love it!”, but I often wonder who she is trying to convince?
There are entire websites, blogs, support groups, books, and forums dedicated to women who need a place to vent about how gruesome motherhood can be. There is no disputing that it is an insanely challenging job and these women deserve and need to vent, share, and commiserate– but the constant complaining in conversations and undertones of “you just don’t understand because you don’t have kids” makes me scared to have kids. I don’t want to become that person. It actually terrifies me because I wonder if it is something I can even avoid? And nobody is ever allowed to talk about these concerns or feelings because it seems cruel, judgmental, and ignorant. Especially coming from someone who doesn’t have kids. But here I go anyway, already feeling the evil glares from moms around the world.
Can I have children and answer people honestly and positively when they ask how I like being a mom, or how my day is going? Is being a mom so overwhelming that all you can think or talk about is how tired and frustrated you are, or are so many complaining simply because it’s the “thing to do”? After all, they have learned this behavior from the moms they associate with, maybe even their own mothers. I feel like in today’s society, an attitude has developed where it’s almost cool to be miserable, and the more a person talks about how bad their kids are and how stressful their lives are, the more empowered they feel. It’s not just about venting anymore, it’s a focal point of every conversation and interaction. It becomes an identity. And this isn’t exclusive to just parents– the same can be said about people who hate their jobs, appearances, spouses, or fill in the blank. Why do we feel like our importance is directly related to how busy and miserable we are? Are we perpetuating our misery by talking about it so much, instead of taking steps to make our misery more manageable?
I’d like to believe so– that would actually give me some hope. It would let me know that with some perspective, a good support system, and healthy outlets (read: a way to get frequent breaks from my children), I am not destined to be an angry, bitter mom someday. I do know several women who don’t fit into the “miserable mom” category, and they give me hope. They inspire me. They respark my interest in becoming a mother. Even when they are sobbing, screaming, and miserable because of their hellion children, they are good mothers and I enjoy being there for them and giving them an ear to vent to. I realize that I cannot possibly understand what they are going through, and I admire their courage and patience– even when they feel they are at their worst. Everyone has bad days/weeks/months and I can only imagine that as a mother, they are especially upsetting because your life is essentially controlled by a child who you just can’t control or satisfy at times. This post is not about them– it’s about the mom’s who make a lifestyle out of incessant complaining, judging other mothers, and putting people down.
I don’t operate well on less than 7 hours of sleep. I like to stay in bed on weekends and watch Netflix. I like to eat my food when it’s hot, and preferably not standing over the kitchen sink. I like to come home after a long day of work and not think about what nutrition and care a tiny, immobile human needs in order to stay alive. I’m scared of becoming resentful. I’m scared that I won’t know how to be one of those moms I so admire, the ones who struggle and have rough days, but are generally pretty happy and embrace motherhood for all that it is. And they enjoy it– the highs and the lows. I’m scared that having a child will change my life so drastically that I won’t recognize myself anymore, and I’ll turn into that woman who constantly reminds people in every capacity how hard and horrible her life is with kids. But don’t worry, it’s the best job ever and incredibly rewarding.