ChicagoNow bloggers are writing posts today giving advice to new moms ahead/in celebration of this upcoming Mother’s Day.
I do not have kids. I have never wanted kids. I knew this by the time I was 12. When people told me “you’ll change your mind,” I would be filled with an electric rage at the thought that they were so presumptuous to think they knew better about my mind or my body. You can just go fuck yourself¹, thankyouverylittle.
I understand why an adult would think a 12-year-old would not stay the course on an opinion they made, even one about children, since so many women get to adulthood and find this primal urge to want babies. I’ll admit that since recovery, my once hatred of babies (which I came to realize was a straight-up phobia) has lessened and my complete inability to even see them as cute has changed. I can now look at a baby and see a cute little face. I see a puppy and kitten face as much cuter, and my maternal instinct for animals is through. the. roof., but I can actually think a baby is cute. HUGE strides, people, huge².
But the desire has never hit me. I still, at 40, have never longed for a human child — one from my womb or otherwise. Any desire for children has been purely theoretical, educational, intellectual — a yearning to set the wrongs of my own childhood right. To raise a child up in the way it should go. What I’d want to teach a young mind. What morals I’d want to set. The ideals and passions and guidelines I’d want to pass along. Pure ego, really. Definitely no reason to have a child. I am far less freaked out about meeting someone who has children, but again, no longing for one of my own.
A huge percentage of my friends have kids and not only that, many of them have had second (sometimes third) children. So, I had the opportunity to get used to the first round, but then I did have a secondary shock — “Yes, you got that out of your system. Why on earth would you want to have a second go?” But it seems that most people³ really are hardwired to procreate or something.
So, where’s the advice, Unquiet? Here’s where it is. New mom. Love your kids. That seems stupid. Duh, right? But show up. Be present. It doesn’t matter if you breastfeed/give formula or carry for a long time/use a stroller or work/don’t work or send them to public school/homeschool or are married/single mom or straight/gay or what. None of the things that seem to rile people up into fierce debate on the internet.
I think there’s a million different micro and macro ways to love your child. But, my suggestion to you would be this — take one or two things that wound you from your childhood. Things you wish your mother would have done differently. Know that she was doing her best. You certainly know how difficult it is to be a mom. To fill the role of so many people and do it so well. So, you’re bound to fall short sometimes.
Even so, your children will sometimes feel slighted or have hurt feelings or be bruised by those unintentional mistakes. So, pick a couple from your own mother that haven’t left you and change them. Do them differently or a little better for your own kids. Don’t let them see you ____. Don’t let them go without ______. Make sure you _____ when they ______.
Just a couple. You can’t rewrite your past — you’ll go crazy trying to do that. And then you’ll just start a new generation of neurotics. But I think that doing just a little better is something. It’s letting go of the past while creating something new, which is a great definition of love.
¹I was a goody two-shoes growing up. I would not have even thought “go fuck yourself.” However, there was the one time when I said “crap,” and Diana K. told me that was a “bad word” (in 7th grade mind you), and I thought she was a *little* over the top with that one. Piss? Okay. But crap? C’mon.
²For YEARS into adulthood (into my early 30s?), when people (fully married, happy coupled people) would tell me they were pregnant, my internal reaction was one of fear and panic. My silent dialogue went something like, “Shit. What are you going to do? Are you going to keep the baby?” while faking a smile and going “Congratulations!” then internal, “Dude. They want a baby. They’re happy. This is a *good* thing. They’re stoked. You’re a freak.” I’m able to go instantly into congratulations mode, now. The only residual blah left is that I know my friendship with them as I know it is over. So, it’s complete selfishness that leaves me bummed, not weird “Oh no, there’s no possible way you want this baby.”
³And you crazy religious right, that goes for everyone. I have plenty of lesbian friends who have kids (both adopted and born).
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