#PghGBE: Confessions of a Reluctant Mom

Today’s post comes from Britt Reints of In Pursuit of Happiness, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. I especially love this post because it feels like something I could’ve written myself.

You can see my post over on Orange Chair Blog, where I write about how different tastes don’t detract from a good relationship.

I have a confession to make: I never wanted to be a mother.

In fact, I suspect I wasn’t actually meant to be a mother.

I didn’t grow up playing with dolls or fantasizing about having babies. I played office—always the boss—and sketched pictures of the skyscrapers I’d someday live in. I made lists of countries I’d travel to, not baby names, and to this day I dream of growing old in a tiny apartment crammed with more books and souvenirs than grandchildren.

Despite all that, I am a mother. I have two kids, aged 10 and 15, and I love them truly, madly, and deeply.

But most of the time I feel like taking care of them the way they deserve requires me to work against my natural tendencies.

It is not in my nature to nurture. Inspire? Encourage? Motivate? Absolutely. But feed, clothe, and coddle? Not so much.

I’m a big fan of autonomy. You do your thing, I’ll do mine, and we’ll meet up over cocktails and small plates to share stories and lessons learned.

Children are not autonomous. They require active guidance and constant tending. They’re like gardens – which I am also very, very bad at.

So, I am raising resourceful children, children who can make meals from leftovers and lunch meat in a pinch and who can keep themselves entertained when mommy needs a nap, children who do their own homework and make their own beds. I know that’s not an entirely bad thing: resourcefulness and independence are good qualities for adults to have. But I worry that I’m not teaching them these skills with enough intention, that I’m really just dealing with my own shortcomings.

I worry a lot, actually.

I worry that I don’t push them enough. I worry that I don’t hover enough. I worry that they are getting the short end of the metaphorical stick because they were born to a mother who wasn’t supposed to be one.

I feel guilty for their lot in life, but I don’t regret mine.

As unnatural and unnecessary as motherhood is to me, it has also been very, very good for me – precisely because it has not come easily.

I could have effortlessly blossomed into a child-free happiness. Instead, motherhood has chiseled, ground, buffed, and polished me into a hard-fought, unnatural happiness.

Motherhood has forced me to learn skills that I might not have needed but for which I’ll forever be grateful. It’s taught me about vulnerability, strength, holding on, and letting go. It’s taught me about loving someone more than yourself.

Most importantly, motherhood has stretched me beyond my boundaries, beyond my fate, and taken me into the realm of possibilities and choice. It has showed me that we can become anyone we want, even a person we never thought we were “supposed to” be.

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— Britt says, “Pbbththt.”

What do you do that you think is against your natural tendencies?

It’s especially timely that Britt got to hang out here today. She and I are both reading at the Listen to Your Mother show. I hope to see you there!

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7 thoughts on “#PghGBE: Confessions of a Reluctant Mom

    • I’ve posted before about how motherhood was an unexpected life path for me. I think sometimes we hear a lot about the “I always wanted to be a mother!” group — or the “I am never going to have kids” camp. And I bet a lot more moms are like you and me. Like, “Huh. That happened.” 🙂

  1. This is beautiful, Britt. I was raised by someone who didn’t want to be a mom either and I learned things that your kids are learning now: being independent, making myself happy, and working hard to get what I want.

    It goes against my natural instincts to be gentle and patient, but I’m learning now to make it happen. It takes a village!

    • I know for me it’s less that I didn’t want to be a mom as once it was going to happen, I learned how to be a good mom — the best mom I could be — without being Super Mom.

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