May 3 The joy and inconvenience of having kids
My baby turns one today. Later I’ll probably post an adorable picture of him and write something about how I never knew what love was until he came along and what an honor it is to be his momma. All true. This morning, though, I’m thinking about the moment in the hospital when they laid him on my chest for the first time. I looked down at his tiny body and puckered face and thought, “Well this is going to be inconvenient.”
I seesawed wildly back and forth about having kids. Even while actively trying to get pregnant, all I could think about were the sacrifices ahead. Sleep deprivation, dwindling time with friends, no more impromptu date nights at our favorite sushi restaurant. Then there was the fear of losing my identity as all my past accomplishments and talents morphed into one faceless blob called “Mom”.
I was not one of those women who loved being pregnant. (Are you even out there, you mythical women who glow for nine months straight with nary a swollen foot nor killer episode of heart burn?) Beyond the physical discomfort, I spent a lot of time worrying whether I would like being a mom. But whenever someone asked how I was, I responded, “Oh great, yes, and absolutely, so excited to meet the little guy.” There seems to be an unwritten rule that when you’re pregnant you don’t talk about anxiety and fear. Like accidently seeing your parents naked, ambivalence about motherhood makes people uncomfortable.
Companies have done a great job of selling motherhood as a series of perfect moments framed in soft light, where the biggest stressor is a countertop spill easily solved with the right paper towels. You don’t fool me, I thought as I gritted my teeth and registered for an arsenal of baby products.
I assumed the first few months would be a lot like boot camp: no sleep, physical extremes and someone yelling at you all the time. What I didn’t anticipate was the power of love (and hormones) to steer me through it. There have certainly been sacrifices. But along the way, life sneakily reprioritized itself so that the changes I feared don’t feel so important after all.
I do love my child more than I ever thought possible, and it is an honor to be his momma. It also feels good to be open about everything else that comes with it.
Recently I recounted all this to a friend who is thinking about starting a family. “I know we can’t put it off any longer,” she told me, “but…what if I don’t like it?” She almost whispered the question. She was brave enough to ask the question so I thought she deserved an honest answer.