I was troubled this morning as I watched the Today Show, one of the delicious luxuries of my summer days. It was not the horrific terror in Norway or the impotent inability of our elected leaders reach an agreement about the national debt crisis, though both are very disturbing. The source of my bother on this particular morning was slightly more benign but unsettling nonetheless.
It was a segment about the choice some women are making to remain "child-free," which incidentally does make children sound like some kind of exotic fungus...but I digress. This Today's Woman segment entitled "The Choices We Make" looked at the statistics of women who have chosen a childless life. The study found that 1 in 5 women ends her child bearing years without giving birth, up from 1 in 10 in 1970's.
What bothered me about this segment was the notion that any woman who makes a conscious decision to remain "child-free" would be considered selfish. This just doesn't add up. How can it be considered "selfish" to choose not to have children? Responsible? Yes. Mature? Absolutely. But selfish? I think not.
I have met my fair share of "Mommies" who portray their lives as a hell of their own creation. Women who have given birth to one or more children and seem to be dying from the inside.
I will not for one millisecond discount the fact that EVERY mother who is being honest has moments when they wish they could be "child-free." Some even have those moments everyday, and there is not a thing wrong with that. Judging that would be a post for another day, for another blogger.
But I will say that motherhood is not a "rite of passage." It's really just biology.
Nobody is more surprised than me that I am about to be a mother of four. Didn't see it coming. Didn't think it was in the cards.
Spent a fair share of time on my therapist's couch saying things like, "I just think I was meant to be alone." "I'm not sure I was supposed to be married with children."
To which she said, "Oh, yeah? But you are."
"These are the circumstances of your life as it is." She said, "The choices that you have made have lead you here. This is the hand you have been dealt, so get in the game."
And so I did.
Motherhood didn't come naturally to me. For a long time I felt like an actor. I would study other "Mommies" as they interacted with their offspring to learn what I should be doing, how I should be behaving.
My natural instincts tell me that it is perfectly acceptable to stab the hand of three-year-old as she reached for the last bite of cookie pizza or take a baseball hat from your 5 year old because it matches your outfit. Turns out...it's not.
My natural instincts tend towards the selfish side and it is truly something I struggle with even today.
Do I want to fetch a "milky" at 5:14AM when I still have 40 minutes to sleep? No, but it would be selfish to make the child wait...and so I drag my ass out of bed and make the "milky" happen. Because that is what Mommies do.
With every passing day I do fall more in love with my life and after almost seven years I finally think I have hit my stride.
Do I live for my children? Why yes, I believe I do. Would I die for my children? You bet your ass I would.
My social life is structured around activities that involve them. Soccer, football, gymnastics, play dates at the pool, picnics at the park and I wouldn't have it any other way. I didn't start out down this road looking for someone to "complete" me but it turns out...they did.
I wear my "Mommypants" proudly now, but I don't take it away from those women who have chosen True Religion jeans over my Motherhood Maternity numbers with the "secret belly panel."
I would take my hat off to the "child-free" women but unfortunately my damn kid stole it back from me...so cheers. Here's to having choices, but remember they are all half chance.