The past year has been the most exciting, terrifying, joyous, frustrating, beautiful, exhausting, fulfilling, draining, incredible experience of my almost 32 years. And while the adjustments haven’t always been easy, I believe I have transitioned to motherhood more smoothly than I might have because I (A) wanted a baby and deliberately got pregnant, and (B) I am at a point in my life where I am emotionally, mentally and financially stable. Even under the best circumstances, babies are challenging, but I have to believe that I would struggle so much more as a mother if Amelia had been unplanned, especially if it had happened ten (or even five) years ago. If I had a dollar for every time someone over the past years tried to talk me into having a kid, I could take you all to Sizzler for a steak dinner. People just couldn’t understand why on earth John and I didn’t have a kid when we’d been married “so long.”
I didn’t understand what the rush was (or why it was anyone’s business). I knew that I wasn’t ready for motherhood. I was still too selfish, too unsteady in life. There were areas of my marriage that needed to be addressed and worked through to provide a foundation for our future child. Having a baby wasn’t the logical “next step” for me—not at that moment. I will never regret waiting to have Amelia. My life isn’t perfect and I don’t have it all figured out, but I am existing on an entirely different plane in 2011 than at other points in my adult life. If I had become a mother earlier in my marriage, I wouldn’t have loved Amelia any less and I would have probably done just fine taking care of her. But I wouldn’t be the mother I am to her at this point in my life. Choosing to have a child was crucial for me. I didn’t spend nine months trying to accept that I’d be a mother. I was able to prepare to be a mother.
Now please understand that I am only speaking for myself. Every woman approaches and adjusts to motherhood differently, regardless of her circumstances. I have known single moms who stepped up to the challenge and are wonderful, nurturing mothers. I also know women who outwardly seem like the perfect “candidates” to raise children but who are selfish or unstable (or a dangerously unhealthy combination of both). And whether or not a pregnancy is planned does not dictate a mother’s success. There are many “accidents” walking around in the world who are happy, healthy, well-rounded people. And there are entire sets of “planned” siblings who are broken, scarred products of broken, scarred parents and marriages. All I’m saying is that I know me. And while I would have done my very best if I’d had a child earlier in my life, my “very best” would have been hindered by insecurities, unresolved anger, anxiety, and past mistakes I was still very much clinging to. I don’t think I would have totally screwed Amelia up, but I know I would have been less patient and more self-absorbed. I make mistakes as a mother every day, but I don’t think I would have been as conscious about them back then.
|Image by Shawn St. Jean|
I always hated when people told me I “needed to have a baby.” However, I find myself tempted sometimes to tell people they should wait. I know, though, that it isn’t my place to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do where babies are concerned. I do share with younger couples why John and I chose to wait. And I tell them how it has not only benefited Amelia but also our marriage. We still have our rocky times, but we had nine years to lay the groundwork for a stable, happy home in which to raise our little girl. Maybe some people can do this in a year or two, but we needed more time.
I love my little Peanut. I can’t imagine what life would be like without her and already struggle to remember what life was like before her. I gain nothing at this point by dwelling on what kind of mother I could have been, but I do believe I wouldn’t have been so willing to be a mother. When I make a mistake, I am conscious of it. I acknowledge my shortcomings and actively try to better myself. I don’t know if that would have been the case under different circumstances. It would have been difficult to focus on the needs and well-being of a baby if I were instead focused on my own hang-ups and selfish desires.
Almost every woman has potential to be a good mother, even under the worst circumstances. The key is having the energy, patience, wisdom, and desire to be a mother. I am thankful that I waited until I truly had that desire. Becoming a mother has changed every aspect of my life. I can’t help but wonder if I would be struggling with resentment or depression if these were not changes I had initiated and welcomed.