My Daughter Asked if I Wanted Kids Before Becoming a Mom
It was early January. I was 23. Just moments before, I had been standing. But I now found myself sitting in the bathroom floor — knees bent with elbows propped on top — holding the proof with both hands. My back had apparently slid down the wall without me realizing, into my current seated position. I don’t recall how I got there.
The pregnancy test was positive.
We had met in a bar a little over nine months before finding out we were going to be parents. It was rocky and bad from the beginning, and I should have read the warning signs. Mutual acquaintances giving me wide-eyed stares when I’d tell them we were dating. Stories of his flawed reputation with girls, and with relationships in general. The fact that for a whole week, my calls went unreturned, only to later discover he went out of town without telling me. And then even later discover he was with another girl.
And now I was having his child.
We got married when our firstborn was four months old. A little over three years later, we welcomed our second daughter. Four years later, we were divorced.
Some little girls — and probably some little boys, as well— know from a young age that they want to be a mommy or daddy when they grow up.
I never recall a definitive moment in my childhood when I felt this way.
So, do you think you might want to have kids when you grow up?
Hmm, I don’t know…maybe. We’ll see.
In all honesty, it was never a top priority. Motherhood wasn’t something I was focused on. I was never the little girl who — if asked what I wanted to be when I grew up— responded with a mom.
About a month ago, my youngest daughter — my middle child — posed this question.
Did you want to be a mom?
This is the child who hates going to her father’s house, feeling that he only wants her there to babysit her three half-siblings. The daughter who has recently expressed middle child angst, feelings of being ignored in a sea of sisters and brothers on both sides of the family. My one child who is currently in therapy.
I proceeded with caution.
Of course I want to be a mom!
No…I mean, DID you want to be one. Before you were one.
And that’s when I chose to either sugarcoat it, or be completely raw.
I chose completely raw.
Honestly? I didn’t know what I wanted.
But after I gave birth to your sister, I knew. I knew I was meant to be a mom.
She paused for a minute, then continued.
But did you want ME?
We’ve had a tumultuous relationship over the past couple of years. She struggles with anxiety and depression. I’ve struggled with the same.
On top of dealing with our struggles, I’m raising two other kids. I’m trying to be a good wife. I’m attempting to keep up the laundry and clean the house. I’m working full time. And thanks to COVID, I’m now educating a Kindergartner from home.
Yet admittedly , with all I have going on in my life right now , this daughter causes me more worry than everything else combined.
Her actions are carefully calculated. She has to perform these actions in twos; plugging in her cell phone charger, removing it, then plugging it in again. Turning a light switch on, then off, then on. She has outbursts, telling me how much she hates me, threatening suicide if she has to do anything she isn’t comfortable with. Like attending P.E. class because she hates P.E. Or going to her dad’s on Christmas, because she’s convinced that he and her stepmom hate her. She obsesses over the superficial, though in her eyes, the obsessions are very real. Are her eyelashes long enough? Are her hips too wide?
She always returns to reason, eventually. But during the few hours that she doesn’t, my stomach churns, and I’m physically sick.
Again, I proceed with caution.
Yes, I wanted you. Still do, and always will. Nothing will ever change that.
She gives a half-hearted smile. But that’s all I need to let me know that things are okay…at least for now.