Let me preface this by stating that I am nowhere near ready to become a mom. Up until about ten years ago, I wasn’t entirely sure I even wanted to have kids. The idea of babies always nauseated me. They cried. They pooped. They made loud noises, and anyone I had met who had a baby, talked about it as if it were some sort of punishment rather that some joyous occasion. They spoke only about the 3AM feedings, raw nipples, sleepless nights and a partner who was never home. There was no part of that lifestyle that sounded appealing to me. Even as a child, I was always the one more preoccupied with brining in the fish fossil my father bought me to show-and-tell rather than my baby doll that wore a soft pink onesie and blonde hair that I ended up cutting really terribly, on a whim.
So what occurred to change my mind on such an important subject? I’d like to say that I had this defining moment, but it was much less glamorous than that. Discovering that I wanted kids actually prompted me to realize I wanted so much more out of life. Let me explain. About six years ago, at the tender age of nineteen, me and my then husband (I’ve been divorced for four years this July) came home after visiting our best friends after the birth of their son. He was so small. Ten tiny fingers. Ten tiny toes. He was beautiful, as all babies are. We got home and had the discussion on having kids. They would have his eyes and my chubby cheeks. He would teach them how to play catch and I’d join the PTA and life would become this sort of, magical playing ground where I harvested life inside me – a life inside of me that would be a product of our love, our vows we took together. Three months in to trying and I woke up one day feeling sick. I felt different. I felt achy. I felt butterflies in my stomach and the kind of nauseating sickness that whirled around like it does on the Tilt-O-Whirl at the county carnival. Even my taste for coffee had gone away. The smell of it sent me sprinting for the bathroom. This went on for three whole days. And I began to imagine – what if I’m really pregnant? The typical panic set in as it would for any nineteen year old. Am I ready? Can I emotionally handle this? Financially handle this? I began to think about all the things I’d be giving up – this time, forever. Going out with my friends, spending money on clothes, taking vacations, taking trips to Starbucks…all of the superficial things that I laugh at today, but were once so vital to me as a teenager. When the test came back negative, I felt relieved.
I’ve never forgotten that moment of my life. Waiting. Pacing around my dining room with the stick in my hand, thinking about how my life could have already changed. I wasn’t ready to have life growing inside of me. I wasn’t ready to give up on the superficial things.
It’s now six years later and I find myself grateful for that experience because it allowed me the opportunity to understand that there are segments of our lives that we owe it to ourselves to experience. At nineteen years old, I needed to understand that the right thing for ME to do was be a little selfish. And truth be told, looking back on it, my ex-husband had the right to do the exact same thing. To be that young, is to be riddled with the ability to make mistakes. It’s a time to be a little reckless. Today, I view my life as still experimenting under those same segments.
I want to finish my degree. I want to get my Master’s in Clinical Counseling and then after that, maybe my PhD. I want to write a book, maybe two. I want to be out of school loans, and be able to securely stand on my own two feet. I want to, when I bring a baby into this world, be able to have the luxury of being able to see her take her first steps. I don’t want to be working late, or have my head buried in a textbook to not be able to cook dinner for my family, or to take them to ballet lessons, or drum lessons, or even science fiction conventions, if that’s what they really enjoy. I want to be fully present in my family’s life, because that’s what feels right to me.
Everyone undergoes a different path in life. Some are ready to be moms at nineteen, or twenty-five, or thirty-seven. Some may never want them, and others, heartbroken that they never can. We all carve our way for the path that is unique to us, a life that fits our desires, our dreams, and our lifestyles. There is no wrong or right way to live your life. For me, my defining moment on realizing I, one day, would like to have kids, came from realizing that I want to be the kind of person that I’m not only proud of, but someone my family can be proud of as well. I want to push myself to learn more, to experience the things I still need to while I’m still living this segment of my life.
I know one day I’ll hear the little pitter-patter of feet running down the hallway. I know one day that I’ll be exhausted from staying up all night, and 3AM feedings and heavy eyelids and a stretched out belly. Coffee will become my best friend and I’ll have long forgotten what it’s like to stay out past 8:00PM. But when that time comes, I won’t be searching for other avenues in my life to define me. I’ll look over at my daughter, or my son, seeing the way their eyes sparkle the same way their father’s does, and I’ll smile, because that is what will define me. That’s what I want to define me.