the other day i met a friend and her three children at the park. while the little ones played, we sat and watched as they explored and discovered and fell down and got back up. another mother arrived with her sweet, curly haired little girl. she went off to play and the mamas got to chatting. "how old is she?" "what's her name?" then the other mother said "oh that's your 16 month old son, when are you due?" i told her november, to which she replied "ohhh, was that baby a mistake?"
my jaw instinctually dropped, i stuttered in disbelief, blniked quite a few times, then uttered "uhhh, no." and in the next moment, by the grace of God, Wyeth beckoned me for help on the jungle gym.
there are so many obvious things wrong with this statement: rude, no child is a mistake, none of her business, a million more polite ways to intrusively ask about my family planning, etc. but this woman is the extreme of what happens each and every day, since the world found out i was pregnant with wyeth.
during both pregnancies, i've been bombarded with a million horror stories about birth, the terrible twos, and teenagers. most comments are about how difficult pregnancy and parenthood will be, as if i'm now eternally doomed to misery.
in a jesting tone, i've taken so much heat over trading in my honda element for my toyota sienna minivan.
i bump into many well-meaning man/woman/child: they notice the belly and the boy, ask when i'm due, what the age difference will be, then scrunch up their faces to show their pity, tell me i'll have my hands full and wish me good luck.
usually the next question after the standard age, due date, age difference, gender questions, i get asked if i regret or miss "giving up" my career for my children, or if i wish i could travel more, or if i miss the freedom of not having children. and these are not dear friends asking these questions; it's acquaintances, ladies that work in the deli, anyone that spends enough time to get to that level of questioning.
...here's the thing: i have never been happier or more fulfilled in my entire life. why the sympathetic looks? why the pity? i am beyond blessed to have the opportunity each day to do the most important thing i could ever do with my life: be a mother.
as for the woman in the park: did i know i expect to get pregnant again so quickly? no. was i overjoyed at the opportunity to have another child? yes. am i thrilled that my two sons will never know a life without each other? yes. do i thank God every day for this blessing? absolutely. so is baby 2 a mistake? not possible.
as for the forewarning, negative comments: i have had two amazing pregnancies, being honored to carry the beating hearts of two little miracles inside my body. the sickenss, the aches, the discomfort, the inconvenience, all of it: worth it. i had an incredible, drug and intervention free birth with wyeth and pray to do so with baby 2. it's not that bad. as for the impending doomsday that so many strangers promise me i'm in for- i'm not saying it won't be hard, but i am saying that i am going to appreciate the struggles that help grow this family.
as for the minivan: i have never been so excited to drive a small school bus in my life. yes, it's a symbol of the suburban (working) housewife life. a life that i am so very thankful to be living. a car is a status symbol, and my status? PROUD mother of two boys, growing a happy family.
as for the "hands full" and "luck": yes, i will have my hands full- with two unbelievably beautiful miracles. two boys full of life and spirit who will make me laugh and thank God each day. and luck? i obviously don't need it- i've already been lucky enough to have the priviledge of mothering two boys. i might be the luckiest person on the planet.
giving up my career? first, i still work. second, i will go back to education. and third, no job could ever fulfill me the way being a mother does. all day every day, i am presented with opportunities each day to be good at something, to do something i love, to feel fulfilled and successful, to make an enormous difference in the world around me. there is no other job like being a mother, and i am SO thankful that i have this job.
traveling? in the 16 months since becoming a mother, we've been to san francisco, lake george, disney, upstate new york numerous times, various camping trips, and other short roadtrips. but that's missing the point: i do not have to step foot out of my house to experience the same wonder and amazement as traveling brings. every day my boy sees something new, discovers it for the first time, and because i now see life through his eyes, i am re-discovering the most ordinary things in the most facsinating ways. isn't that why we travel? that's why i do and will.
as Rachel Jankovic said: The truth is that years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing. Do we believe that we want children because there is some biological urge, or the phantom “baby itch”? Are we really in this because of cute little clothes and photo opportunities? Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? If so, what were we thinking? Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.
motherhood is a calling. it's not a choice. it's a blessing. it's not something you can control and have happen the moment you decide it's time. it's not something that should be done at 30, no sooner. siblings don't need to be exactly 2.5 years apart. you don't need to have a certain amount of money in the bank or own a home with a certain square footage or have worked at a job for a certain amount of time. you need to hear and accept the calling to motherhood.
so in defense of all the mamas, please stop pitying us. i didn't give up my life to become a mother. the opposite happened: an entirely new and better life for me, my husband, and my family has grown from my very womb. a life that is so full of joy, so full of happiness, that in the quietest, simpliest of moments, there is serene peace in my soul. there is no longer self-doubt. there are no longer hours of questioning what the future holds and what the right decisions might be. i no longer ask God for things in church: i go each Sunday to thank him for the blessings in my life. i am brimming with gratitude. i am fulfilled to my core.
i'm certainly not contending that women everywhere should stop everything and procreate immediately. what i am saying is that women who have chosen to accept the calling to motherhood are lucky, they need not be pitied. they should be celebrated.
so here's to you, beautiful mamas!