A Child is Like a Box of Chocolates
You never know what you’re going to get.
I hate Mother’s Day.
I’ve hated Mother’s Day since I was old enough to realize that my mother was exploiting a day for herself that she only got to be a part of because of my existence.
It’s my day, she used to say.
You wouldn’t have this day if it weren’t for me, I said back.
Then the bickering would ensue, and neither of us would enjoy the day — the Hallmark holiday I do everything I possibly can to avoid acknowledging now that I’m a mother.
I never wanted to be a mother, you see.
I accidentally got pregnant at twenty-two and for some reason at the time thought abortion or adoption were out of the question, so I had this child that I never planned for and didn’t really want.
Not wanting to be a mother and becoming one anyway is a hard thing to reconcile, and thirteen years into this motherhood adventure, I still haven’t balanced it out.
I love my daughter completely, wholly, and purely — but there are still days I wish I’d made another choice back when I was twenty-two, and I’m going to tell you why.
For anyone who’s on the fence about becoming a parent, listen up:
You never know what you’re going to get.
When I was pregnant all I did was imagine the amazing, rewarding things about having a child.
I thought back to my own childhood, which was wonderful, and started imaging what it would be like to give my own daughter the kind of childhood I had — filled with friends, sleepovers, family trips, school concerts — and then I would imagine farther — the high school graduation, the college years, the first time she fell in love, planning her wedding…
When I carried her inside of me and dreamt of her life, I never imagined how far life would stray from the dreams I held on to, trying to tell myself I did the right thing.
When you’re pregnant with your first child, you probably never imagine all the potential disabilities they could have.
You don’t imagine that within weeks of your child being born, you’ll find out that her hips are dislocated from their sockets and that your infant will have to spend the first year and a half in their life in a spica cast and hip brace, robbing her of the developmental milestones that healthy babies should reach.
You don’t imagine that when your child starts kindergarten you will be informed that she has ADHD, Autism, and is developmentally delayed. Years later, a neuro-psych exam tells you that your daughter is also Intellectually Disabled, that her IQ is so low, it’s time to start preparing yourself for the fact that your child will probably never be able to take care of herself or live on her own.
I mean, you probably don’t imagine any of those things happening when you’re planning and dreaming up your perfect child, right?
I’m no statistician, but I think most pregnancies are unplanned.
Birth control fails, too much alcohol comes into play, things happen — and sometimes babies are the result.
But I wonder what it’s like to really want to become a mother — not by accident, but by actively trying to achieve a dream — the dream of the perfect, healthy child.
I had the dream of a perfect, healthy child, didn’t you?
I had a dream that I would raise my perfect, healthy daughter and then release her into the world to live her own life and maybe have her own children, I had a dream of her growing up and letting go and moving on.
But instead, I have a thirteen year old who I worry will never stop carrying around her stuffed animals, a teen who can’t tell time even though we work on learning it over and over again almost every single day.
Some parents worry about how they’re going to pay for their children to go to college, I worry whether my daughter will be abused in group home if I don’t keep her with me forever.
Are you planning to get pregnant? Remember what you need to plan for.
A child is not a bright, shiny dream that bursts into the world to fulfill some personal desire, or to fulfill anything at all, really, except their own unknowable destiny.
Consider what you’re getting yourself into, and consider what you might never be able to get out of.
Motherhood is a choice — make it an informed one.