As my eldest turned 14 recently, I reflected on where I was before he made me a mother. Michael and I were married five years. As I mentioned in my initial post, becoming a mother terrified me. I thought about it a lot over those early years.
Since graduating high school, I supported myself. I worked throughout college and law school. I then joined a prestigious law firm. I took comfort in knowing I could support myself whether through my law career or through the skills I had acquired. I knew I could choose to do something else at any point. I lived abroad and lived in different places in the US. Not all these efforts were smooth or easy but I felt in control.
Becoming a mother felt like I would lose all control. I had a conflicted relationship with my mother. It weighed heavy and forced me to consider what my relationship might be with my child. Would I be a good mother? Would I be like my mother? Would I enjoy being a mother? Motherhood didn’t offer me flexibility to “try it and see”. I needed to take a leap . . and that wasn’t the way I operated.
So I put all sorts of conditions on when we would have our first child. Michael needed to quit smoking. Then, I needed to finish law school and be established in my career. We need to own our home and have our finances in order. When those were accomplished, Michael asked, “Are you ready now??”
I played with his question in my mind. I found a new one feeling as I contemplated motherhood. It was a small peaceful spot within the swirling uncertainty. As I stayed there for a few moments, I realized I was ready. I was still afraid but I felt I could walk toward the fear rather run away.
The remaining uncertainty exhibited itself in different forms. I almost irrationally wanted a boy. I knew deep down it was because of my relationship with my mother. I recall being close to her when I was younger. We road bikes together and talked about all kinds of things. But when I became a teenager, we struggled as I shared on a previous mother’s day blog. Years passed and there remained a gulf.
I didn’t want to replicate this experience. And since I didn’t know how it happened, I didn’t know how to avoid it. I took comfort in the belief it would be easier if I had a boy. My husband had a close relationship with his mother. She was a young mom and in some respects they grew up together. She was the fun, beautiful woman in the pictures I saw in the albums. In many of them, he looked at her with adoration streaming from his eyes. And more importantly for me, they maintained that closeness into his adulthood. I felt I would get a fresh start with a son.
Turns out, I was right and I was wrong. I have a close, special relationship with my first born son. And we share a bond that looks a bit like my husband’s with his mother. We are pictured below in his first few weeks of life and more recently. I also now have a second boy and a little girl. I have an equally special but different connection with each of them.
I appreciate much more now that relationships are unique and complex, and ever evolving. I am thankful to again have a close relationship with my mother. In 14 years, much changed but uncertainty remains a constant. I am just more comfortable with the associated loss of control. And walking into the fear comes a bit easier.