On this Mother’s Day, I wanted to write about my own experience, and it’s one that I don’t think gets talked about very much because it’s a pretty shameful thing to admit to. So just know that I don’t write this to offend or be ungrateful (and especially not because I don’t realize the blessing of being a mother), but rather to be transparent and maybe share what some of us feel and think, but don’t ever think we could say out loud (at least not directly).
I read a FB post from one of my friends yesterday in which she mentioned, with amazing, beautiful writing, all the different kinds of women that there can be in relation to “motherhood”. Included in that list was “the women who have children they didn’t want.” As I read this, it was like a punch to the gut of resonance that told me that this is how I’ve felt for much of my motherhood.
I didn’t want this.
Yes, each and every one of my four children were planned pregnancies, but I had them out of obligation and religious pressure rather than a conscious, deliberate, joyful choice. It was more like, “I guess this is what you do now. I did the marriage thing, now I should do the kid thing. And I should probably have a lot of them, close together. That’s what all my immediate family members have done. That’s just what you do. ”
All that being said, no, I would never wish away any of my children or the experiences I’ve had with them. Anyway, I believe that arguing with the reality of one’s situation is probably the most futile thing you could ever do. The reality is that I have four kids. And I KNOW, so deeply, that there are THOUSANDS of women out there wishing, hoping, and praying for the opportunity to have children, that cannot have them, or have lost their precious babies. If this describes you, please know that, again, I mean no offense by this post, I mean no ingratitude.
I just want to take a moment to talk to other moms who might feel like me.
The moms who had kids because they felt like it was the “right” or “expected” thing to do, and were too young to know any better or to stop and think about what they wanted.
The moms who have been promised that having kids will be the biggest blessing in their life and who have been given a white-washed fantasy of what it will look like, and then get b**ch-slapped in the face by the reality of rearing children once they have them.
The ones who feel like multiple years have been stolen from them because they didn’t know any better.
And the same moms who feel incredible guilt and shame for having these thoughts and feelings. Who feel like terrible, terrible, people.
The only reason I say all these things is because I feel this is a season, more and more, of being open and sharing our real feelings and experiences with each other. It’s a season of stories being told that have never been told before.
So those are my real thoughts on this day of mothers. If you feel like this, you’re not alone. And it’s okay to grieve what might have been. It does NOT make you a terrible person.
But I also want to tell you that the reality is that you have these kids now. They are here, with you. And they did not ask to be born. They didn’t ask to have their whole existence be a burden to you, and they don’t deserve it. This is what I’ve been learning, VERY SLOWLY.
And like I said earlier, what’s done is done. I can’t go back and change the past, and I don’t think I’d want to. The question for me now is, “How do I want to show up now, in this moment, with my kids? How can I own my reality and my motherhood and take my power back?”
For me, that means defining my OWN success as a mother, and not using other moms and their kids as measuring sticks against me and my kids. It means making time for myself a priority and figuring out how to make that possible (not waiting for someone else to give me “permission” or do it for me). It means doing things I may not want to do, but making a conscious choice to do it, not doing it out of obligation or “I have to do this.”
Because the reality is that I don’t HAVE to do anything. I don’t HAVE to stick around for my kids. I don’t have to do little things each day to show them I love them. I don’t HAVE to make sure they’re safe and fed and that they know their emotions are okay. I don’t have to be involved in their education. I could walk away from all of this at any time. Truly. That’s an option.
But I don’t want to.
That’s not the kind of choice I want to make. I choose to do all of those things on purpose, and that is how I define my success as a mom.
So if you feel like you have kids that you don’t want, take a little time and really ask yourself how you want to show up, just as a woman. Don’t shame yourself about it, just be real with yourself. Maybe your answer is that you want a career. Maybe you just need to infuse your life with creativity again. I don’t know what you showing up as your best self will look like in relation to the kids you have.
But I know that it’s worth it and your perspective will change everything.