When I growing up, I had my life planned out. Married at 23. Kids at 25. And then, when I was 29 and ringing in the millennium, my kids would be off at a babysitter’s house while my dashing husband and I were out on a harbor cruise partying like it was 1999. Because it would be.
Life doesn’t always follow a timeline, though. I met my future husband when I was 28 but didn’t even think of him as husband material until I was 29. We got married shortly thereafter and talked ever-so-briefly about having kids. The conversation was more like one day… Or even some day… Or even maybe, when the time is right.
Spoiler alert: The time is never right. You’ll probably never have enough money. You’ll probably never be in just the right house or neighborhood. You probably won’t be exactly where you want to be in your career. You just won’t be ready.
Until you have to be.
In the early days of my marriage, I found myself constantly looking at the big picture. I was constantly questioning the choices people made, not in an effort to criticize, but in an effort to understand. I’m sure people thought I was nuts. Here’s an example.
One of the women who worked in my department was beautiful and exotic. She was from Russia originally and was so smart. She had a great job, a devastatingly good-looking husband, and what I perceived to be a pretty good life. And then she had to go and get pregnant.
Why? I wanted to know. Not why she decided to get pregnant. But why she wanted to bring a child into the world. This world. What was the compulsion? What did she hope to gain from being a mother?
It was really more of a philosophical question and in retrospect, I think I was questioning whether or not I should have a child. I was trying desperately to understand how my life would change by making this life-changing decision. But more than anything, I think I simply wanted someone to give me clarity and maybe even direction on whether or not I should embark on the journey called motherhood.
I didn’t make any decisions for a while. In fact, the next major event that I recalled at work was the infamous day of September 11th in 2001. We all had so many feelings but I couldn’t escape one amidst my own fear. It was the feeling of relief that I didn’t have a child. I couldn’t imagine dealing with such a traumatic, frightening event as that day and the uncertainty we all felt while having to care for a child.
Not only did I want to be selfish with my own thoughts, emotions, and feelings but I had an overwhelming sense that this planet was not a place where I wanted to raise another human being.
Until I did.
It was a long progression of thought and many years of marriage before I realized how many people in our lives that we loved would come and go. Our pets, someday my parents, my husband’s parents, maybe even our siblings. I could foresee a long line of loss ahead, even if it was decades away. And I could see the future as an older couple spending a lonely Christmas with no one to come home to, no one to share memories with. Yes, this is how my brain works.
Almost 7 years later and I can’t imagine not being a mom. My son brings light into my life and allows me to see our planet with a whole new and fresh set of eyes. I still worry about the world we’re living in. I worry about GMOs and pink slime and deadly viruses and terrorism. How can I bring a child into all of this? And I had my answer years ago but I was reminded of it when I watched the video below.
Because I’m raising one of the good guys.
Every day, my goal as a mother is to instill kindness and compassion in my son and hope that someday he uses his gifts for so many things to help make the world a better place.
There is a brighter future for my son, as long as he chooses to help shape that future.