At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
I haven't been doing so well with the whole "having kids" thing this summer. I was ok for most of the beginning of the summer. The first Greek term kept me really busy and I just didn't think much about it. But recently, I've been having a hard time. Fear is behind it. And the knowledge of the sacrifice it will take. I bought a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility right before we went on vacation with Daniel and Bethany. It's good I have it now, but thumbing through the book was a bad idea. It's a very graphic and very brutal reminder of what I'm about to try to do to my body. And it's a reminder of how much every aspect of it is hard work, and uncertain work. Ultimately, I set the book aside and have decided not to look at it until shortly before I'm going off of birth control. There are many women I know who would devour this book with joy. Their bodies, and bodies in general, are mysteries to be figured out and enjoyed. But I've never liked riddles and I've never been comfortable with my body, so there are two huge strikes right there.
Yesterday, I was doing research for my paper for the Jonathan Edwards class I'm taking. I'm researching and writing on the women that surrounded Edwards and it's reminding me just how much I love research and how much regret I have that I didn't do grad school earlier in life. I firmly believe that God gave me everything in my 20s for good reasons, but I admit that sometimes it's hard to see those reasons. I wish now that I was ten years younger and going straight out of undergrad into a PhD track. But then, I don't really wish that, because I wouldn't be the person I am today and everything about the last ten years has given me the interests and voice I have. So that's that. But it is really hard to look at my life and the reality that my chances are so incredibly small of doing further academic work once children are in the picture and not feel some regret.
The problem is that I can't escape the idea that my life will truly be over once I have kids. Trey has been concerned about this in me from the beginning of our marriage. He tells me I always talk as if having kids will be tantamount to self-immolation. I always deny that this is the case, but the closer I get to actually trying to start a family, the more I see this to be true about me. Bearing and having children seems like it will be the total negation of Hannah.
And I don't want that. But I struggle to know if my rejection of it isn't just pure selfishness. I want to homeschool. I want to be with my kids. I truly truly want those things. But I also want to be more than those things, not just for myself, but for my children. There is a big world, with so many interesting things to think about, and sometimes it feels like my soul will die if I don't have space, mentally and physically, to think about anything but children. Sometimes I feel so guilty for feeling this way – most women for most of history have not worried about these things. Identity is only a problem for the privileged twenty-first century woman. If I could change myself out for someone who never thought about these things and who was certain of herself and her space and who didn't have anything more to be known about herself than the community around her, I would. But I can't do that and that's not who I am, and so I struggle.
Last night, Trey and I were lying in bed. I half-jokingly reminded him that hopefully in the next year or so, he won't be the only one with access to my body. We continued to joke about it, mostly about the differences between his and little babies’ touches. And then, all of the sudden, very quickly the joke dried up as the reality that everything about my body will be destroyed in the process of becoming a mother set in. My children will literally suck their life from me and it will take its toll on me, and on my husband. The only response I have to that reality when I face it is fear.
And this is where I meet up with my sisters throughout all of the ages. My struggles with identity, my regret over lost opportunities, these things set the modern generations apart from the long chorus of motherhood. But the abject fear of giving up your physical self for the creation of another physical self unifies me with all who have gone before. It is raw and it is scary, and this, I think is the real source of my struggles with motherhood.
About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.