I think I’ve always wanted to be a mom — at least from the time my little brother joined our family when I was seven years old. I had never been very interested in dolls, but when my brother arrived I suddenly had a real-life baby to care for. This was much more interesting than a motionless hunk of plastic.
My daily goal became finding ways to make him laugh… or burp (I was seven!). On the weekends, I would get him out of bed before my parents woke up, often before the sun was up. He was still half-asleep most of the time, but I just couldn’t wait to start playing with him. I’d change his diaper and fix him a bottle. Sometimes I would take the clothes off of my life-size Raggedy Anne doll and put them on him. Sometimes I would fix up a little wagon with blankets and tuck him in and pull him in circles around the house. Sometimes I would just hold him in my lap and talk to him. I was a proud big sister and mom-in-the-making.
Early into our relationship, my now-husband and I discussed having children. Mark and I were definitely on the same page. The first time I saw him interact with a kiddo, my heart melted. He has this natural, easy way with children. He respects them as individuals, and genuinely enjoys spending time with them.
Fast forward a few years, and we are married. We’re starting our own photography business. Baby Fever had me in its crazy-making hold. I was one of those women… the women who linger in the infant section of any store. The women who read birth stories and mommy blogs every week. The women who stare at every baby and pregnant lady they see.
My husband was ready to have kids. We had already picked out names and set aside money for a midwife. I went off the Pill and started charting my cycles. I ovulated with amazing regularity every month. I desperately wanted to become a mom. And yet… something was stopping me.
I was terrified.
I’m the kind of person who gets all kinds of piercings but never tattoos because tattoos are too permanent. I prefer renting to home ownership so that I can move whenever I feel like it with minimal hassle. And here I was on the verge of making the most life-altering decision of my life. Should I choose to become a mom, there was no going back. The decision to become a parent is a permanent one, and would bring with it an enormous lifetime responsibility to guide and nurture another person.
Mark and I had so much going on. We were building our photography business, shooting every weekend. We traveled often. Our lives were awesome, exciting and fun. Did we really want to introduce a child into the mix? I pictured my life screeching to a halt. Career indefinitely on hold. Traveling only once or twice a year, instead of every month. Mark being forced to go back to an office job because I wanted to stay home part-time with our child and for some reason our business stopped being successful and we had no money. Resentment creeping in. Sleepless nights. Crumbling marriage. Unhappiness. Complete loss of self.
My fear-induced vision of parenthood held none of the joy I felt when I pictured myself as a mom. There was a major disconnect between my heart and my head. How was it possible to want something so badly, and yet picture it turning out so horribly? I felt impossibly stuck. I wasn’t happy with the idea of NOT being a mom. My heart swelled every time I thought about raising children. But month after month, as my body released egg after precious egg, my brain screamed at me “What are you thinking?! NO NO NO! You are not ready for this!”
And then one day a wise and dear friend said, “It sounds like you think being a mom means giving up everything else. Why is that?”
Because when it comes to being a mom, I don’t trust myself to be awesome at it like I do with everything else.
Because I don’t know how I can be a good mom and still have time for myself and my business and my marriage. Because I can already hear people asking me why I think it’s a good idea to travel with a baby. Because I don’t really believe my husband when he says we’ll figure it out as we go and we’ll be great parents. Because when it comes to being a mom, I don’t trust myself to be awesome at it like I do with everything else.
So I made a decision. I decided those reasons wouldn’t stop me from becoming a mom. Maybe I can’t make all the scared, doubting, mistrusting feelings go away. Maybe some of those thoughts would always be lingering in the back of mind, but I didn’t have to listen to them. I could listen to my heart instead. Like I did when I decided to go to China by myself without speaking a lick of Mandarin. Like I did when I decided to get married — the one other “permanent” decision I’ve made in my life. Like I did when Mark said we should start a photography business.
I believe in myself. I believe in my husband. And I know that together we can do — we HAVE done — amazing things. We’ve overcome challenges. We’ve knocked down obstacles. We’ve made a decision day after day to seek out happiness, to act with love, to do scary things and not be afraid of failing.
I’m not going to fail at being a mother. I don’t have to give up everything I love to be a good parent.
In February I told Mark I was ready. Let’s do this. Let’s be parents.
Five weeks later, I peed on a stick and a “Yes” popped up.
We’re doing this. And it rocks.
Parents: what led you to decide to become a mama or papa?