When I hear a woman say she was “born to be a mom,” sometimes I feel envious. I wonder if I’m missing something; some gene that would have me more cosmically connected to the constant demands of my children. That sense of “must” that I just don’t intuitively have.
My husband has always been way better with the typical “house wifely” duties. I cannot remember the last time I did a load of laundry or raced to get dinner on the table, and I’m not terribly sorry I have no desire to compete with June Cleaver.
Even while searching stock photos for this piece, I was overwhelmed by the HAPPINESS ONLY vibe that seems to accompany the word “motherhood.”
I was not “born to be a mom.”
At times, I can’t even imagine what that might feel like to believe; while just the thought suffocates me. This is not to suggest being a mother is not an important role in my life; it’s just not my everything. Being a wife and mother are definitely two of my most favorite things in the whole world, but I have never felt like they complete me or are all I need. I want more.
I believe that better equips me to support my children in chasing their own dreams. I will never pressure them to have children or pester them about when my grandchildren are coming. I will instead encourage them to live their lives and experience all the things the universe has to offer.
The only time I ever feel badly about these choices is when I’m comparing them to yours. When I start giving into or believing the hype about the ways I’m supposed to feel about motherhood – the sacrifices I’m supposed to be making and the misery I’m predestined to brave with a smile…because motherhood is a gift not everyone gets to experience.
Even as I type these words, I can project how many will hold issue with my audacity. After all, there are many women out there who would gladly give a limb for the abilities I take for granted — to carry, deliver, and raise a child. To some people, my words, attitude, and even willingness to admit I feel like this might feel like a slap in the face.
I have been asked many times to take responsibility for the feelings my thoughts and experiences provoke. Since starting this blog, I have received generous rations of shit, judgment, and mom-shame for admitting I have so much as ever embraced the thought of a life without children.
How dare I take this beautiful gift for granted!
Don’t I understand how lucky I am?
The short answer is yes; and of course my heart hurts for all who suffer with infertility. Of course I understand how my position – my reality – might challenge theirs. But here’s the thing: that is not my fault. The pain and misfortune of others, while it may devastate and sadden me beyond words, does not necessarily dictate the feelings I have about my own reality.
I do not know the struggle of infertility, and I cannot sympathize. The fact that I’m complaining about my children does not mean that I don’t empathize with others who wish they had kids to complain about. While it may seem easy enough to pretend to know how we might feel in the shoes of another, it’s ridiculous to believe we actually can.
I can only imagine a quiet, clean house without the pitter patter of tiny feet screaming, stomping, and constant tantruming of little people. I can only imagine the joys of an afternoon nap after reading my favorite book or watching a Lifetime movie marathon.
And maybe these are luxuries that one might give up in a heartbeat for that never-ending chaos, interruption, and noise they’d give anything to experience. Perhaps it would seem nice for a few weeks or maybe months… but I wonder if, like many of us, they might get tired and miss alone time. I wonder if the grass on the other side wouldn’t look as green if we got to actually experience all the strenuous maintenance that lawn requires.
Because of course we would both miss the amazing parts of our unique realities. The soft touch of a little hand on my cheek and all the other things I do sometimes take for granted… because I can.
We all do. We all at times take certain things for granted and feel ungrateful for the gifts we have. We don’t always take into consideration the fact that others would die for them. And that’s 100% okay. That doesn’t make us wretched people.
That makes us human.
So, while I understand and appreciate the fact that my willingness to discuss the not-so-wonderful aspects of motherhood might affect others in a negative way, it doesn’t shift my reality. I will not apologize for my humanness just because it rubs you the wrong way.
Your feelings about missing out on the opportunities to be completely overwhelmed and crazed ALL THE TIME – because there’s not a whole minute of silence or peace – does not make me feel any less overwhelmed or crazed in those moments. I have as much the right to speak up about my feelings and experience as you do, in hopes to reach and connect with other women who struggle in a similar way.
Just because I don’t feel I was “born to be a mom,” doesn’t mean I’m not a good one. The fact that some women share their very real struggles with motherhood doesn’t have to mean they don’t adore and appreciate their children. It just means that they’re honest about the fact that it’s not awesome all the time.
If you still need to judge me, based on what you read on my Facebook page, Twitter, or here on this blog, have at it. If you need to pretend you know me, tear what you think you understand about my life apart, and attempt to hurt and shame me, do it up! I will continue to do my best to remember that your need to judge is not and will never be an accurate reflection of who I am.
That shit’s on you.