With the birth of Jenna’s beautiful twin boys, the number of my good friends who currently have infants has once again climbed, while I am still kid-less. For someone who was, among my high school in-group, considered the prime candidate for Youngest Married Mom I seem to be falling quite a ways behind the curve. And the farther behind I lag, the more I begin to notice a feeling of mixed excitement and disappointment every time someone I know announces yet another pregnancy.
I suppose I should clarify things a bit.
I have always wanted to be a mother. Not in the general “all little girls play house” way either. I was a tomboy as a child; champion tree climber of the neighborhood and nearly unbeatable at hide and seek. But I was also everyone’s impromptu mother. If someone got hurt, I ran for the parents and/or first aid kit. On field trips and extra-curricular outings, I shared my packed lunch with anyone who had forgotten theirs. When my brother was born I was ecstatic; I wanted to do everything, from changing diapers to mixing formula to babysitting, (because 9 year olds are just great at all those things). That need to mother never went away. I still dish out food, hugs, advice and listening skills to anyone and everyone who needs it. I worry about everyone impartially. But for all the overwhelming maternal instinct, I still don’t have kids of my own.
This is, of course, by choice. I am married to the man of my dreams, and we both want a family. However we made sure to sit down early on in our relationship and talk about our expectations concerning…well…everything. We talked about how many kids we each wanted (him 2, me 6, final compromise of 4), what we wanted in terms of schools and the opportunities we could give them, even names for all 4 (we chose three of each gender to cover the bases). The longest and most difficult part of the conversation, and the part which we have revisited the most often, was timing. When did we want to start this family? With both of us planning on attending graduate school, and both having career plans following that, we knew that starting a family could mean one or both of us having to put those dreams and expectations on hold. In the end, we decided that we would wait, and start trying for a family only when at least one of us was finished (or almost finished) with their graduate degree.
That was five years ago. I was 21, and sure that I would be finished with all that pesky school stuff in fairly short order. But as time went on, things didn’t turn out exactly as we planned (because nothing ever does). I’m now 26, and won’t be trying for our first child until around 29. I’ve had to adopt two rabbits just to keep from constantly bursting into tears over not having any children yet. (No joke, before we got the first one a couple years ago, I was having breakdowns over being “the old mom” every 2-4 weeks.) We’re sticking to the plan, because in the end it will result in the best possible outcome for all of us; me, my husband and our future children. But it’s not easy, and it’s only getting harder.
So I’ll admit it, I’m jealous. Every time I hear another pregnancy or birth announcement, I get simultaneously thrilled for the expecting parents and depressed that it’s not me. Every time another picture goes up on Facebook or a blog, I’m smiling and the cute and scowling that it’s not mine.
But I’m okay with that.
I would prefer to deal with my own heartache now and have happy, healthy, well provided for kids rather than deal with heartache shared between myself and my kids over something that I can’t provide for them. Because I’m a wuss like that. I can deal with my own pain, sometimes so well that those around me don’t even know it’s there. But dealing with the pain of a child? Pain that I feel that I’ve caused? I’m not ready for that yet. I’m not sure I ever will be.
And so I salute you. To all current mothers from this wanna-be-mama;
Never doubt it, never forget it.
Someday I’ll join you. And you’ll all get to tease me about being so upset over missing out on 3am feedings and 3 loads of laundry a day just to keep up and temper tantrums and everything else. And I’ll happily go along with it. In the mean time, don’t forget me when you need a babysitter. Wanna-be-mama needs some cuddle time.
Liz is a friend and former co-worker that currently resides in Oregon. And I know will make an awesome Mama someday 😉