I can’t tell you the exact moment when I knew being a mother wasn’t right for me. Sure, I talked about my future children in an abstract way and had baby dolls growing up. My Cabbage Patch doll, April-May, was a faithful companion for many years of my childhood. I also left her in the window of a hot car on a scorching summer day at the zoo and melted her little plastic head, so I think it’s rather clear the nurturing instinct can be a bit hit or miss for me.
But dolls and imagining the future children I might have with a boy I had a crush on doesn’t really mean much. At various points throughout my childhood, I wanted to be a dump truck driver, The Pope, and an astronaut. Plans change.
In elementary school, I remember being fascinated by two teachers at my school who were a married couple. Mr. and Mrs. S adored the kids they taught and invited those kids and their parents to their beautiful restored Victorian home for an incredible holiday party every year. One of my good friends and I even spent the night there a few times. I doubt teachers could get away with having students stay at their house these days, but I went to a Montessori school and things were a little more laid back in the 80’s.
I have distinct memories of Mrs. S doing laundry and whispering that she couldn’t use the name of the pre-treater or Mr. S would make a big ruckus. He must have had a six sense about it because he came racing in from the other room yelling “Shout! You’re using Shout! It’s time to shouuuuuuuuuuuut!” We giggled at him and thought he was the most ridiculous, wonderful adult we’d ever met. They were both fantastic with kids and I cherish those memories.
I asked my mom once why they didn’t have kids and she answered, “I don’t know. It’s not really any of our business unless they decide to tell us.” But she did explain that some people had trouble having babies and some people simply didn’t want them.
I was astonished by this concept. “You can do that?” I asked, unaware that choosing to not have kids was a valid option. “But, Mr. and Mrs. S love kids! Why wouldn’t they want any of their own?” I don’t remember exactly what she said, but the gist of it stuck with me. There were people who loved kids who didn’t necessarily want any of their own.
It was a revelation.
Once I was old enough to begin to grasp what raising a child entailed, which was maybe fourteen or fifteen, I realized I didn’t actually want kids. It wasn’t some thunderbolt moment, just a dawning realization that it wasn’t something I felt any urge for. People told me “oh, you’ll change your mind.” I didn’t really argue because it’s the kind of argument that can’t be won.
But I’m 34 and I still haven’t changed my mind.
I spend one day a week with my best friend, Eden, and her family. I love them all. Her boys are spectacular little human beings and she’s doing a damn good job raising them. And no, I’m not just saying that because I know she’s reading this. *waves at Eden*
They have bad days and tantrums and meltdowns, of course. They’re six and three so it comes with the territory. But they’re sweet and funny and turning into such interesting people. I am thoroughly enjoying being “Aunt Wagon” to them.
The more time I spend with them, the happier I am with my choice, however.
Motherhood isn’t for me, but I appreciate the women who work so hard at it. I appreciate my friends and cousins who are raising great kids. I appreciate my mom. I appreciate them more for doing something I never could.
Happy Mother’s Day. I hope it’s a good one.