At Home, East Arlington, Massachusetts
The last week was weird. Really weird.
Last weekend we got snowed in and didn't go anywhere. That was actually really nice. It was Valentine's Day on Saturday and Trey and I stayed in the whole day. He did a lot of homework, and I just totally relaxed. We had breakfast in bed and then made a yummy dinner. At the end of the evening, we randomly decided to watch Romeo + Juliet.
It was really fun, but by the end of the movie, I was kind of a wreck. It brought back so many memories from my teen years that I just do not like to think about. And the result of that was really not wanting to have kids. It wasn't because I felt afraid of them having the same difficulties; rather it was some kind of deeper reaction. It brought back so many memories of feeling alienated. It brought back how much I sometimes wanted to hurt myself. It brought back so much shame. It brought back the desire to do something to be recognized, to be proud of myself. Mostly, it just reminded me of how much I still haven't addressed these things that seem so far away in the past.
But I don't want to delve into these things. Thinking about doing so feels like taking my head and smashing it against the wall at full force. Things are so good now that I don't want to go back to the past. I feel like the issues of my teen years don't define me or my relationships today. I don't want to be sad or burdened by them, nor do I want others to be so. The older I get and the more I understand myself, the more I know that despite the brokenness, my teen years were full of so many good things. I don't want to doubt everything.
And yet, my visceral reaction to thinking about all of this is still a strong aversion to wanting children. I guess it just seems like there is still so much inside of me that I'm afraid of – fear, anger, insecurity. It scares me to think about either addressing it, or ignoring it and having it eek out into the lives of my kids.
But that wasn't the end of the strangeness of the week. After crying about it all for quite a while with Trey, things got back to normal. He truly is God's greatest blessing to me. I am so so deeply thankful for him. He, more than anything else, makes me want to have kids.
That is until on Monday when I developed serious acid reflux. I have never in my life experienced indigestion the way I experienced it this week. I couldn't eat anything without turning into a giant ball of belching. By Thursday, I was convinced I was pregnant. There was no particular reason for this idea apart from the fact that my stomach was doing super weird things it had never done before. But the lead up to taking a pregnancy test after a week of suspecting pregnancy preceded by a meltdown over having kids the weekend before made the test quite ominous.
It sucks being a woman in the 21st century. No, it doesn't suck. There are so many good things about it. But the conundrum of childbearing sucks. So many thoughts raced through my head. Relief at knowing I could get pregnant. Surrender to the inevitable. Anger that God would ordain this. Trust that what he wanted was best. Sorrow over lost opportunities to go back to school. Sorrow over my sorrow. Jealousy that other women get to do what they want. Acknowledgement that having children isn't the end of my life or personhood. Fear that Hannah as we know her will be gone forever once there is a baby around. Joy at the idea of a family. And so much confusion. Just so much confusion.
In the end, I am not pregnant. The lack of that little blue line both made me incredibly happy and reintroduced so much of the fear about whether or not I'll be able to get pregnant. But the final take away is that I thought quite a lot about what kind of person I want to be. I have come across so many women who are truly lost to their motherhood. The woman I once knew is gone forever and all that remains is an obsession with her children. It's all she can talk about and it's the only thing she is interested in defining herself by. She is no longer primarily a friend or a wife. She is a mother.
And the thing that drives me crazy and totally mystifies me is that they seem to do this to themselves willingly. They are their own agents of this change. Usually there is no lack of people willing to talk to them. I have sat with so many young mothers who have ceased to talk about anything except for their mothering. I have been a living, breathing person in their presence, willing and waiting to talk about anything we used to talk about and instead, we don't. The person I knew is gone.
This terrifies me. I want more for myself, but mostly, I want more for my children. I want to be the person in their lives who opens the door to the world. I want them to feel like the world is a bigger place because I am their mother, not a small place centering only on our family’s lived reality.
Today a picture popped up on Facebook of a mother and her children. I don't know this woman well, but for a long time she has symbolized to me much of what I want to be in motherhood. She is beautiful – not in some superficial or toned way, but she understands her own beauty and embraces it. She is engaged with the world and her mind is awake. And her smile is one of the most genuine motherly smiles I see in pictures on Facebook. She is a woman who has kept her personhood intact and it lets her love her kids ferociously.
That is the person I want to be. And not just when I am a mother, but now.
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.