Wednesday, August 26, 2009

maternal moment

when it comes to parenting, i think there are 3 types of women:
  • those who have known forever that they will be mothers no matter what
  • those who know that the mothering role is not for them
  • and those who are completely ambivalent to the whole process until the stars align
i fall squarely into the 3rd category.

i'm not a motherer by nature. i never played with babydolls as a little girl and my "house" playset was almost immediately transformed into a poor-man's My Little Pony Dreamhouse, with the ponies slumbering in the wooden stove (see what i mean? could i have been any more lacking in the maternal instinct department? fry ponies, fry!). i much preferred building zoos for my little plastic animals (i had an entire little red wagon full) out of blocks, or frolicking through the bamboo in the alley as an indian princess warrior (ahem, native american princess warrior, apologies).

as i grew older, my ambivalence towards "da bebes" never lessoned. don't misunderstand: i love my small-fry relatives and my friends' adorable children. but i am not the girl who does the "Stop & Coo" in front of rando-strangers' strollers in line at the grocery store. if i'm stopping and cooing at anything baby-related, its baby shoes - because seriously, it doesn't get any cuter than this.

bottom line: i never pictured myself as a parent. the other day a friend pointed out that i never pictured myself as an attorney either. yes well, i pretty much went to law school because (a) my then-love-of-my-life broke up with me and i was fat and miserable and felt the only thing i had going for me was that i was smart and i'd show him just how fucking smart i was and go to law school while he got a job selling corrugated boxes... and (b) i really liked Law & Order: SVU. now i spend 75% of my days banging my head against a desk and kicking my 22 year old self for thinking that self-righteous revenge came with a shiny juris doctorate.

sooooo yeah, maybe not a good analogy.

and then i met Evs. and we fell in love. and all that goopy shit. and while there was no lightning bolt moment where my uterus began screaming "GIMME DA BEBE," the tides did start to turn. and so, we made The Plan: two ankle-biters, 3 years apart, parenting to commence some point after our two year anniversary.

i go weeks without The Plan crossing my mind.

then some days i am petrified. "will i be the worst mother ever?" i really, really like wine. and soft cheese. and the word "fuck." and i like to sleep. and spend money on ridiculously expensive shoes. and travel to places that do not offer a Magic Kingdom to explore or creepy teenagers dressed as huge stuffed animals to hug. and boy do i love me some alone-time. and i'm not sure how many of those selfish / excessive things about myself i want to change. more than that, i worry that the fact that i know i could live my whole life happily fulfilled without children of my own makes me somehow less capable or less deserving of having a child.

and then i have Moments. sure, many of them occur when i am drunk, home alone, bored, and mysteriously find myself marking etsy shops like this one as a favorite and/or perusing Dwell Studio and thinking "huh. baby shit is kind of cool these days."

but some Moments happen in the strangest of (sober) places. like in the middle of Hatch Chile Fest on Sunday when i saw a father hold a mini-plastic sample spoon of hatch chile salmon cake to his toddler and say "try it. you'll like it." she did. and as she grinned as i was transported back to the house i was born in - my father chopping jalapenos on the chef's block island in the kitchen - him mixing a tiny bit of the pepper into my green beans... "try it. you'll like it." and i did.

or yesterday. i ordered the heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella at lunch and it came with tomatoes of all colors: purple, yellow, orange, red, green. i remarked how i'd spent a ridiculous amount of money on heirlooms this summer and was mourning the slow demise of tomato season in Texas. and my boss {forever the on-the-go professional woman, name on the door of the firm at the age of 38, impeccably dressed in anything but a boring black suit and currently carrying this bag in deep gray patent} replied that she and her children had the most fun this year sampling each and every color of tomato offered at the farmer's market. flashback: my grandfather - green-thumb extraordinaire - lovingly picking summer tomatoes from the backyard as i helped with the watering can... sun-warmed, homegrown tomatoes on the window sill of my grandmother's kitchen... slicing them with salt, pepper and durkee mustard for lunch after a day on the lake.

those are the Moments that count. the ones that cause the very hazy notion that i can still be me and a mother snap a little sharper into focus. the ones that i'm keeping in a jar with other precious things for a (much) later date and time.

54 comments:

  1. Lovely post. I have similar feelings.

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  2. Love this post. I too fall in the #3 category. And it is those little moments that make you think, huh, maybe I can do this.

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  3. Great post, Kate. I think honesty is the most important thing when it comes to this topic. I never talk to stranger's babies and really don't care about a baby that means nothing to me personally. But I am nuts about my kiddo. I do miss my sleep a lot and would kill for two hours of alone time every day. But that's why I have my MIL and I'm trying my best not to let this change me. But I think some change is inevitable. You have such a great attitude about it. Before I met Todd I was in category number 2 believe it or not. Then I was in category 3 before we had our little oops! :)

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  4. I'm like you. I never really thought much about kids until I met Mr. Newlywed. I hated playing house, and damnit I was going to be a career woman if it killed me.

    Then I met Mr. Newlywed. Everything changed.

    Obviously my health issues have changed our time table...and moved it up if I ever get pregnant. My feelings are still very much a rollercoaster. One day I think I could be pregnant tomorrow and the next I am thinking that who cares what the dr says I want to wait 10 more years...

    I really like this post. I think you wrote what a lot of women try to say but can't put into words.

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  5. This is a great post. I have very similar feelings as well. I think being honest enough with yourself to state that you'll miss things like cursing, wine, and alone time will make you that much of a better mother. My parents did one hell of a job raising me and I love that they still maintained their own wants and desires.

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  6. I have always fallen in between category 1 and 3. Now since I'm married, I have thought about this a lot, especially since I now have a "career".

    Our "plan" is pretty much identical to yours (although we want 3). I am just worried about how to balance legal career with having little ones. That's great that you have a good model for this in your boss.

    All the wives in our group of friends are hopping on the preggers train. They are all elementary school teachers, so its more cost effective for them to stay home. Whew, obviously I haven't been thinking about this much :)

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  7. Great post. It's those moments that you described that make me so happy every day. The times when we make my spaghetti sauce or the first time we shelled peas together. It's not the hardest thing I've ever done, it's certainly not the easiest, but it feels like the best thing I can do for the world. Raising an awesome child is great and raising one to enjoy life like you do, will be fantastic.

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  8. Awww this was such a great post. I love your blog btw!

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  9. I think this is such an honest, well written post. I'm a wanna-be mama...and I definitely share your fears about if I will be a good one or not...and how much a baby will change things. But I just believe when the time comes and adjustments have to be made...it will all be worth it and there will be no looking back :)

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  10. Loved it.
    -fellow 3rd category-er

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  11. Kate this is a wonderful post. I had the same feelings you have. I didn't really like children and I had no desire to give up being selfish. Then I found out I was pregnant. Whoops. And my life has forever been changed for the better. Now I get to see this gorgeous little girl looking at designer handbags and shoes talking about what she's going to wear at her wedding (she's almost 9 years old) and I love every minute of it.

    Yeah some of the fabulous purchases get pushed to the side because of dance recital costumes or school clothes but it's all worth it. As far as being a good mom is concerned. If you are there for your kid(s) and take care of their needs then the wine, cheese and saying fuck is going to be necessary at times. Believe me, I've been there several times this month. ;) I think you'll be a great mother and your future babies will be so lucky to have you!!! XOXO

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  12. Very, very well said.

    I actually fall into category #1 & always have, but definitely share your 75% ambivalence about that other professional achievement we share. Nice to know there is room for all of us, wherever we fall on the spectrum, be it about motherhood or career prospects.

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  13. Category #4 - woman who says she will never have kids, and low and behold ends up preggo... 6 years later makes the choice to have another.
    I would not change a thing. The memories I have made thus far with my girls are imbedded in each of us... I look foward to their sweet faces and crazy words every day.
    You will ROCK IT.... when the time is right... for now have fun, enjoy your alone time, your travel time... but for the love of Pete... Mom's dont stop drinking wine (you know that).

    Good POST!

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  14. Great post! I don't think you have to give up everything about yourself to be a great mom. I am definetly a #3. I'm due literally any minute now with our first baby and it is very surreal. I'm excited but we're the only one of our friends procreating so it's a little lonely sometimes.

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  15. Lovely, well written post.

    I fluctuate between #1 and #3 in that when I was younger I knew I wanted to be a mother and well, it was always in the back of my mind, but, once I hit college and all, I decided I wanted to be a career gal and that kids could come late in life, if at all. But, now, I'm happily married, most of my friends have kiddos (which gives me ample time to play with them, love on them and then give them back) and I'm realizing that I want to have my own little ones, but, I share the same feelings--what will happen to "me"? And then I look at my fabulous mommy friends (my bestest is a lawyer, husband is a doctor--it's sickening, really) and know that if they can do it and retain themselves, then so can I.

    I think.

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  16. i really, really like wine. and soft cheese. and the word "fuck." and i like to sleep. and spend money on ridiculously expensive shoes. and travel to places that do not offer a Magic Kingdom to explore or creepy teenagers dressed as huge stuffed animals to hug. and boy do i love me some alone-time.

    took the words right out of my mouth. but we can do it some day, right?

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  17. This made me get all teary-eyed.

    Most days I am a 1 and then I freak out and am a 3. But it feels so much better knowing that I am not the only one who thinks about all of this.

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  18. I just started reading your blog, but I have to say I today I felt like I was reading something I had written myself. You just perfectly explained exactly how I feel about having children. Good to know I'm not alone :)

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  19. Wrote an almost identical (although not nearly as witty) post a few weeks ago. Love to hear others with the same thoughts.

    Singed, a 1 most days, a 3 as of last week and a 2 whenever i babysit my nutty nieces and nephews at once :)

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  20. This is a fabulous post. I read a lot of blogs but I don't comment on blogs. I read yours everyday.

    As someone who falls into the first category, has THE PLAN, and the plan is not cooperating, I hope yours does. You'll make a great mom someday!

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  21. Wonderful post! You know you are going to be such an amazing mother...no question about that. I just can't wait to be one of several crazy "aunts" that spoils the crap out of your little rugrats. maybe your second-born and my first can go to wake together and cause trouble like we did =)

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  22. I think there's a 4th category of women: those who always thought they would be a mother, then slowly started to become ambivalent about it. I'm in that category, and I can relate to a lot of what you're saying. I used to think that I really, really wanted to be a mom. And then I got married and had a career, and suddenly I realized how much fun it is to be selfish! It's great! I love traveling and shopping and not having to think of anyone save me, my husband, and our dog! We've got a "plan", too - we'll have our fist kid a year after we move to New Zealand (in 8 months - gulp), then wait 2 years and have another. I have my "maternal moments", but they seem to be few and far between. I think that in the end, things will work out and I'll love being a mom, but I'm just not there yet.

    Whew - that was a long comment!

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  23. also category 3, i wonder if this is an "only child" thing, perhaps. but i still agree with this post, well said.

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  24. I totally agree with you. I was adopted, and I think since I never saw my mom pregnant with me, it has really shaped my views that I will never want to be pregnant or have kids. I think you'll be a great mom when the time is right, and I have learned so much through you TX girls :)

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  25. i have been reading your blog for a while... you are hilarious! i just had my first baby and believe me when i tell you, i was concerned about all of those things and about one million others! it really is the strangest thing but once our daughter got here, all of that stuff was just out the window. AND the best part is that i'm back to my wine-drinking, soft-cheese-eating, mani-pedi-scheduling, 8-hours-of-sleep-a-night self... i just have a fun little munchkin to do it all with now :)

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  26. Great post, witty as ever. I had to LOL at "two ankle biters" and "i really, really love wine... and the word f*ck." I hear ya girl... I have the exact same feelings!

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  27. Hatch Chile ROCKS! I'm from NM and even when I was a poor college student I'd drive up there and bring a 20lb bag to Cruces ::drools:::
    I AM JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    SO JEALOUS It makes me want to cry :(
    I'll be thinking of green chile for the rest of the day now

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  28. The only time I have a "moment" is sometimes when Aaron is being particularly cute, or childlike in his Aaron way, I think "I'd like to see that dude with a kid."

    I still just don't know.

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  29. This post hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew that my clock was ticking but i just couldn't put a finger on what my issues were with it. I am #3 and I am scared to death of all that this will involve for the next 20+ years. I know I won't be a stay at home mom, we just could not afford it. My Husband and I have tried working on "the plan" but he wants to start now! I want to wait another year or two to pay off some items, like the cars, camper, school debt and savings for the next house downpayment. Thank you for this great post.

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  30. Great post! I have feelings similar to this all the time. Will I be a good mom? Can I still be me? Will I stop being selfish?
    Aaagghhh! I bet you will be a fun, global mom!

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  31. I think you described a lot of sentiments held by a lot of women who are afraid to express them. Life has a way of working out the way it should, we just have to enjoy the ride.

    BTW, I never realized how similar you are to Elle Woods. And I mean that in the best of ways.

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  32. You just said so many of the things I think and fear when it comes to being a mom.

    I've always been a 1, even more so since I met J and knew he'd be the man I'd end up marrying. But now that I know we're planning on babies in a few years, it totally terrifies me and I worry about how I'll be me but also be a mom.

    Great post...you're a fabulous writer, don't know if I've mentioned that before!

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  33. Great post. You will be a great Mom and don't worry about your life changing. Your life is going to change with or with out kids over the next 20 years. You will not stay in the same place. You can still be selfish and hello you can totally keep drinking wine. I love wine and would never let a child make me give it up. Your life will no doubt be different with kids but you won't be able to imagine life before and you won't want your old life back. I know you and Evan will be amazing parents when the time is right for you. I am proud of you and you are brave to share such private and personal feelings!

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  34. Awesome post, friend. I've definitely waivered between all three categories at some point in my life. While I'm squarely in category #1 now, my husband and I are enjoying our time pre-kiddos. We've been married almost 4 years...and will wait a few more before we take that next step. I've learned that The Plan can be more of a guideline than a hard rule. Enjoy your time now :)

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  35. This was such an incredible post!! You have such a gift of expressing what so many women feel, but have no clue how to say.

    I have to admit, I've always been in the first category--I can't remember a time when being a mother was not wanted. I actually even remember when I was first old enough to talk about this with friends, and being shocked when another girl said she never wanted kids! It just never occured to me to NOT want children. lol.

    I think women have such conflicted opinions these days, since we do have so many career and family options. It's wonderful that we can (fingers crossed) have whichever choice we want!! You'll be such a fun, goofy, worldly mother! :)

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  36. Wonderful post!! I was generally a 3 until my early thirties. Then it dawned on my that my biological clock was ticking fast, and it was time to give some very serious thought to this subject. So in fact, my stars did align. I was lucky and embarked on the most wonderful experience--the best ever!!
    I'm glad you're putting those Moments into that special jar. You're in tune with your feelings and you'll know if and when the time is right for you.

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  37. Lovely post, Kate. And then, if you do have children, the moments that will make it worth all the work are moments you probably can't predict. But won't forget. And will still make you cry 20 years later. Of course wine makes the crying part more likely...

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  38. This is a great post. I have never been girl numero uno. Never, ever, ever.

    That being said, I have always been a planner. I pride myself in my organizational skills and ability to make (relatively) detailed goals and follow through with them. I go running four(+) times a week - if that doesn't take real motivation, I don't know what does. (I am also a lover of cheese and wine)

    I've basically been living the past decade this way, through meticulous planning to the last detail. I knew which college I wanted to go to in eleventh grade; I knew which graduate program I wanted to take before most of my friends; I have a folder on my computer for photos of shoes and designer bags that I want to buy next; plans for my next vacation etc. Babies are where I get confused.

    I find myself spending sleepless nights some weekends wondering what I should do when I eventually have children.

    Here's my dilemma: so let's say hypothetically, that when I decide to have kids, [Husband A]'s income will be the same - if not more than the his current income. Meaning that he'll be able to support the family financially without any help from me. Do I then stay home and raise the children? If I am to have a couple kids with fewer than 3 years between them, would it be worth it to go back to work, or will I find myself unable to do both and be stressed out of my mind?

    I sometimes feel like to be a good mother I can't half-ass two jobs and should focus on parenthood.

    But then my logical side kicks in and I tell myself "why the fuck did you spend all that time in school for if you're going to become a full time stay at home mom!"

    I also know that if I ever change my mind and decide to work again, it's going to be super difficult to get back in the workforce if I take 3-4 years off. I suppose I could always change careers. Yeah, right. Like that's an easier solution!

    This is a dilemma that frustrates me far more than any political or moral dilemma out there. Why must it be so hard for women!

    Not only that - I know that Husband would pay for anything (as long as it's within reason) but what if I stop working to have a family. I can't expect him to buy expensive shoes and whatnot. It's easy when you have your own income, but I'd feel a little guilty spending a chunk of cash on seemingly frivolous items.

    What's your take on this, I'm curious.

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  39. That post spoke to my soul. Great thoughts. Well done, you!

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  40. Awww, this is a great post. I have those feelings of complete indecision often, and coupled with my illnesses (plus marrying a Husband that isn't fond of having kids) has pretty much made the decision for me.

    I told my twin sister that I am very much ready for HER to have a baby and she said, "You first." and I said, "No, you first." and she said, "Your name comes first in the alphabet, so you first." just like when we were little kids sitting at the dentist with my mom, the hygienist looking at us with an arched brow and waiting to see who would go "first" to have their teeth poked and prodded.

    But I'm totally getting to that point in my life where I am cooing over every single baby I see. I want to be the cool aunt so bad. I just really don't think having kids is in the card for husband and I and I'm completely fine with that- but the decision to either have kids or not have kids is never an easy one...'cuz chihuahuas can't take care of you and keep you out of a nursing home when you grow old. HARRUMPH.

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  41. Fantastic post Kate, I think we have all felt like this at one time or another! I'm a #1, but I have major doubts in my abilities!! Just because I want to be a mum doesn't mean I'll be any good. And I feel like I can bearly look after myself half the time! But I think I'm a good mum to le chat et le lapin... I think we're too hard on ourselves sometimes!

    Saskia x

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  42. Hi Kate-- I've been a lurker for some time now, but wanted to let you know I loved this post. You have such a gift with words... this was so heartfelt, but relatable. I fall into category 1 for sure, but share all of your same fears (wine, sleep, alone time, and the soft cheese... giving that up for 9 months will be torture!) Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I love your blog, and that I won't be a stranger anymore!

    Kiersten

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  43. You just about summed up the entire conflict I feel in my blog in one post. Exactly my thoughts to a T. Great post!

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  44. I fall into category three as well. At the moment my stars usually only align when I have had too much to drink, but I know once my husband is out of law school and having children is actually feasible I will be super ready to have a child or three.

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  45. Ack! Read this yesterday at work and then forgot to come back and comment. Just wanted to share that I'm the kind of mom who doesn't see herself as Mom-like. There's a lot you can do to define it for yourself, and as long as your spouse is cool with whatever you are, that's all that matters. There are so many mommies I won't ever be like, and that is a huge relief. :) I think the best thing you can do is decide what's important to you (if you do it) and then just ignore everyone else. When you get into the trap of what other people think is when you start to think that motherhood should look a certain way or you should feel a certain way about it.

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  46. I definitely fall into category 1, but that doesn't mean that I don't have my fair share of ambivalence.

    Very well written.

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  47. OMG! It is like you stole this post from my brain! As a military spouse with a job, I am in a small, small pool of women that I know who are not rushing to have children right after marriage or so excited to have kids they could burst. A few times this year, I have honestly thought to myself I don't think I could have a baby. I know eventually we will, but honestly I am not even close to being ready for that now.

    It is a relief to see other women who think the same way I do! I'm surrounded by those who think I'm nuts. :)

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  48. This is such a well written post. You've managed to put into words what so many people tend to think. Honestly, I've always been a number 2. Kids = just not my thing. Then I got married and got pregnant and freaked. Since we've had so many losses, we're actively working on the fertility thing and I'm still terrified. But somewhere along the way I realized that I would be a mother. It might come sooner than I planned and I might be really bad at it (gulp), but I will be someone's mom. I guess the right guy does it to you, you know.. Most of the time I just can't wait for the hubs to be a dad.

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  49. You are really such a great writer. If you ever get tired of doing the attorney thing--or decide to forgo children and have the time..a book is in order;)

    I GET what you are saying about kids and your motherly instinct 100%! I was much like you. But let me tell you that as hard as it is to be a parent (I came home from the hospital with my first and said, "we should have traveled more, we should have done this and that..what were we thinking?" Yes-I said those things whilst freaking out! Because it was NOT easy and I was selfish and that is hard to give up (and still is!)

    I will say...it is ALL worth it. You will not believe how hard you will fall in love with your kids. The day they are born everything changes and honestly..you will become a better you for loving them and showing them they are loved. You turn yourself over and do what it takes becasue you WANT to.
    I should add..you DO NOT have to give it ALL up but you learn a new balance, a dance if you will. One that is often challenging. Balancing hubby (remember, he comes first and this is the toughest job when you have kids but oh-so important), the job, the homework, the housework, taing care of you etc. etc.

    Good luck with this decision. Mine came to me when I was just feeling really bored with the job and like life was "empty" and then it was like a light bulb moment..and it just felt right.
    Oh and I agree with HEather@Alis--do NOT fall into that trap of thinking you have to be like some of these other moms that are honestly over-the-top and NOT doing their kids any favors;)

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  50. I was also squarely in the third category. When I pictured myself as a mom, it was to KIDS not BABIES. I never cooed and talked about my future babies. At 30, we decided there was no time like the present and we went for it. Now, I'm good at this baby thing. Who knew?

    Nothing wrong with being in that third camp. Not at thing.

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  51. Loved this post! I feel the same ambivalence. I practically have a panic attack if I think of motherhood for too long. I think if and when the Hub is ready, I think I'll just take a deep breath and hold it for 9 months. Anything to keep from thinking about it for too long! Thanks for putting it all into words!

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happy little comments!