For many, many years I felt guilty about something. It was a secret that I shared with only my closest friends. The dark secret was this: I didn’t feel comfortable in the role of motherhood. The idea of being a mom scared the woman out of me. This is natural, you may be saying. How about this? Even after I became a mom, I didn’t feel comfortable in the role of mother.
You see, before I had my firstborn, I was woefully undomesticated. I had to learn a ton about keeping a house through trial and error, and pulling my hair out, and sitting in corners staring in disbelief. To top off this new life of responsibility, I was a full-time college student. So imagine my dismay when I discovered that I was pregnant; just when I’d started getting a grasp of things.
I had, up to that point, never changed a single diaper. Never held a new baby, or a fairly new baby. Never had any real desire to actually ever hold a baby. I checked my feelings. As women we are always told that the instinct will come. They -the confident ones- always make it sound as if I were split in half. As if the other half of me would one day show up at my door, packing in her suitcase the inevitable part of me that wants to be a mom, and I’ll greet her with open arms. And I will be complete. Because, of course, something is missing at present.
So I checked my feelings and nothing. But surely, after I had my son I expected that the surge of mom juice would intermingle with my stale living off of cereal brain juice and I would feel like a natural mother. Me? I relished when my kids were sleeping. Yes, this is normal. But when my son was an infant, him falling asleep on me meant that I would be immobilized in my location for hours just to ensure that he didn’t wake up. The same was true later for my daughter. It was shortly after my first child that people would start asking me if I was ready for the second one and I want you to close your eyes, breath in deeply and imagine a wave of vomit washing over you. Yup.
I love them both with all the cells in my body. I’m ready to Khal Draggo anyone who looks at them with too much attitude. The love was and is there. However…
I was the mom who forgot to pack water bottles or snacks. I was the mom not saying how much I missed my kids when they were away at school. I was the mom who wasn’t sacrificing the gym or my hobbies for the sake of my children. I was the mom who caught her child two inches from the ledge. I felt, quite often, like the weirdo mom.
What happened to those instincts I was supposed to be bestowed with? I grew instincts; I wasn’t endowed with them. And that’s okay. If I’m a good mom then who cares how I got there, right?
I like to think that my lack of heightened sensitivity to their needs allowed them a childhood of more carefree exploration and confidence-building then were I to be on the heels of their every step. Naturally, there’s a middle ground. All I mean is that if I had to choose, I’d let them eat dirt.
There’s the type of parent that imagines that their child will be the one kid on the playground that will ingest a parasite from eating dirt. Then comes the doctor’s bills.
Then there’s the type of parent who could never imagine that their child would be the one to ingest the parasite. Secretly they think, “Only dorks get parasites and my kid ain’t no dork.” That was pretty much my default setting.
So obviously, if your kid is a dork, you love him all the same and keep him out of the dirt pile. In education we call that differentiated instruction.
Don’t listen to the hype. Motherhood, parenthood, is amazing. Do the very best that you can and sleep soundly at night. Afterall, we aren’t this lady.