I love babies. How could I not? I am the youngest of six daughters and I come from a really big, Catholic, Chicano family with lots of babies aka my nieces and nephews who are now adults and having babies of their own. Yes, that's right, my nieces and nephews are having babies - before I am. This isn't too shocking, given that I was still a kid when my nieces and nephews were being born, so we're really close in age. I always figured, however, that I would have a baby in my 20's, but here I am, 32 and childless.
I've always wanted a baby. I think that pregnant women are beautiful, the baby shower seems like so much fun, the tiny clothes are so cute, and while I've been told that labor is difficult, painful and exhausting, it's amazing to me to that women can endure something so intense. Tiny babies are so cute and make little cute squeaky noises and even their little cries are adorable. Yes, I've always wanted a baby, but I can safely say that until recently, I've never thought much about what happens after the baby is born - I've never considered being a mother.
Having a baby and being a mother are two completely different things, and I now realize that being a mom scares the shit out of me. I live a very carefree "get up and go" lifestyle with very little thought of anyone else. If I feel like going to an all night diner at two o'clock in the morning on a Tuesday, I can. If I go to a party I can be the last person to leave without thinking of the baby or the sitter or the consequences of being up really late and having to be up really early the next day. Basically, I'm not accountable to anyone but myself.
The fear of being a mother is the same as the fear of being in a relationship. If I don't let anyone get close, I don't have to run the risk or getting hurt or worse, loving someone and sharing my life with him (which means including him in my life plans, or at least thinking of him while I plan). With a baby, not only do I have to love and share my life with her or him, but I am completely responsible for another human being's life. I will always be that baby's mother, and I will have a huge role in shaping an ENTIRE person, and therefore I have the potential to really screw up. That is the scariest thought in the world.
Motherhood is something that should feel completely natural to me. I have a great mom, my sisters are great moms, my nieces are great moms. I'm genetically predisposed to be a great mother. Okay, not really, but I'd like to think that I would be a great mom. I love the kids in my family like they were my own, but the truth about being a mother is that I'm afraid of changing my life. I feel like I waited so long to start living and I'm not ready to change.
My mom is anxiously waiting for me to meet someone, fall in love and have a baby. Don't get me wrong, there is a part of me that feels the same way, but I don't know if I feel that way because I'm supposed to or because I really want to be a mom. I really want to be pregnant, I really want to give birth, but do I really want to be a mother? I can't solidly say yes, but I can't give a definite no either.
While I love my "get up and go" lifestyle, there is a part of me that fantasizes, not just about the baby, but about being a mother. Sometimes I think about my kids and what they would be like and what I would be like. There are times when I would trade all the freedom, travel, and fun for a chance at being a mom. I want to feel the love that flows so freely from my mom and understand what it feels like to be connected to someone who is a part of me... Hell, I even want to feel the exhaustion, frustration and sheer despair that I always hear from parents who are at the edge of a break-down and instead open their arms for one more hug, answer one more question and fill up one more cup of milk.
I don't have the answers - I just came to the realization about "motherhood" versus "having a baby" so I think I'll need some time to sort it out. The nice thing is that I have the freedom to explore the possibilities and I don't have to make a decision today. I know that if I get into a relationship, it's a subject that we're going to have to tackle and I'll have to prepare to let someone else in on my decision. Sure, I can give birth and raise a baby on my own (I know some amazing single moms) but I would like to have a partner in RAISING the baby (not just the fun of making one).
Someday I may trade in my carefree days for caring about someone in a way I didn't know possible. For now, I get to be the cool aunt and when I feel the urge to get up and go, I do.
Next time: Oh, So That's What I'm Afraid Of