Children have been on my mind a lot, lately. The subject of whether or not I want them, to be precise.
For quite a while the idea of childbearing made me turn up my mental nose as though I'd smelled a fowl stench. What had caused such distaste in my life you might wonder? Especially after previously wanting at least a dozen of my own?
Let's be honest... it's not me. It's you.
Wait wait wait don't leave. I didn't mean it like that! I really just wanted to use that line.
But it's not the kids that turn me away... it's, sadly, the mothers.
Today's social media sites have become an outlet for "Mommy-shaming" and other sorts of mother stories. People will post pictures of how they messed up or failed as being a mother, they'll post stories of how they want a vacation from being a mom, they talk all about their kids' terrible twos and thrilling threes and how much of a tornado their toddler is and how--my goodness you just need to lock them in a cage for a few hours! Now, in the realm of mothers, who understand, this seems normal. But to an outsider, to ME, this is horrifying. I've been subjected to a lot of stuff, and some of the stories aren't even that bad, but when you group them all together I just have to step back and think: WHY would you want to subject yourself to that?? What possessed you??
Why would you give up a perfectly sane existence as a single, independent person for THAT? (and the topic of marriage and husbands is another post entirely.)
And then the moms say, "oh... but it's worth it..."
I'm sorry, but after posting about how your child is covered in marker and just redecorated your room in the stylings of crayola... you can't just say "it's worth it" and expect us to understand! Especially when there's sooo much negativity posted on Facebook about children! Who wants to put up with that messy world of mother-comparing, where you don't feel adequate. Don't deny it, I've seen tons of articles telling mothers that they are adequate--why? Because they feel inadequate! Why?? Why do you put yourselves through that?? I mean they made a movie about it! (Mom's Night Out).
By the way.. I'm not referring to any one person, so if you get offended over this, I'm sorry. I'm not trying to attack anyone, I'm just sharing my thoughts on this journey of self-discovery. It would be wrong of me to pin-point people and call them out. This all happened over the years of reading one thing here, one thing there.
I called April up in a panic one day. "Why would I give up a NON-stressful, single life for something that's only going to stress me out, make me cry and make me constantly want to run away on a vacation?? Do you know how terrible that sounds?? Who wants a vacation from their children?? And who's going to want to marry a cranky bachelorette who is terrified of having children?? No one doesn't want to have children! It's something everyone loves to complain about!"
April told me something so astonishing that it shut me up: "You don't have to be them."
What. I don't... have to be like everyone else? No! She explained that these are just other peoples' reactions to what's happening--I can choose to react to Monsieur Crayola's redecorating differently! I don't have to be stressed out in any situation, really, it's all relevant. Someone spilled paint all over the floor? Not ideal. But it's life.
Kid pooped in the kitchen and now the dog's eating it? Welllll... yeah that would be tough. But still, the stress is only there if you allow it to be. It'll pass, and then it'll be a story!
Taking care of my grandma showed me this. And I mean... she made WAY bigger messes in the bathroom than I've ever seen a kid make. She'd... well... I won't go into it, but I've had to deal with this kind of stuff on an adult-scale and it was NOT fun, but God showed me how to treat it with patience, Grandma had alzheimers, she didn't know any better, it wasn't her fault. I could apply those same lessons to raising kids. I didn't have to let it get to me, I didn't have to publicly shame myself on Facebook whenever it happened.
Now I have a few good friends who are mothers, and let me just say "thank-you", they post sweet videos and photos of the joy and pleasure of being a mother, of their families chilling out in a happy coexistence, they talk about how much they love their kids. They don't usually--IF EVER--post anything bad about it. OR if they DO, it's in good humor, "lol, look at this mess this silly kid made". Thank-you. Thank-you for showing me that it isn't always terrifying. Because, while we shouldn't go into motherhood with false expectations, it's important to remember that raising children is a great job! And rewarding! It's because of you (and April's advice) that I realized it's not all that bad, that I really do want to have kids, despite all the things that *could* go wrong. In the end I had made the decision based on how I want to live my life, I want to raise a family so that when I'm old and wrinkled I'll be surrounded by lots of kids, not nieces and nephews (which are great, too) but my own kids, my own grandkids. I think that will be worth getting my phone flushed down the toilet or having pasta spilled all over the kitchen floor.
But I really wanted to post this to pose a question to mothers out there: Are you maybe guilty of "Mommy shaming"? Yes, motherhood is hard, but it's also beautiful. Try to SHARE the beauty in it and just remember that when you share the horrors of parenthood... there's a single woman out there hiding under her bed covers and murmuring, "never gonna have kids, never gonna have kids."