Discovering: I Am Not Less of a Mom

There’s something I have been wanting to write about, but have been putting off. I think I have been avoiding it because I know some feelings are sure to arise. I am not a big fan of being publicly vulnerable, but I am a person who processes feelings through writing. My intention for this blog, has always been to be relatable to others, and to keep it honest. Which brings us to this post–a touchy subject for some folks.

not less of a mom

A funny thing happens when you start dating someone–people start asking you if or when you plan to get engaged. Then you get engaged, and people demand to know if you have set a wedding date. You set a date and get married, and then everyone wants to know when you will be having kids. (Ok, in my case we didn’t go in this exact order, but stay with me here). Then you become pregnant, and people want to know the baby’s gender and name. Baby is born. Life changes–you cross over in to the parenting world. And then people start asking when you are having another, since your first is so cute and all.

It is actually a bit exhausting, and if you don’t have some solid internal boundaries, it can add up to a lot of pressure. I blame human nature and our desire to inquire. (I am most definitely guilty of some of these inquiries.) But with that being said, I am going to tell you what may (or may not) be going on, on the other side of these questions.

After Mike and I had Ayden, our world was rocked, (and that is putting it mildly). No one was getting much sleep at night, Ayden was a difficult feeder, she liked to party at night and  only wanted to be held. Mike was working full-time and in school full-time. Money was tight. Emotions (hormones) were wacky. Life was hectic. That aside, Ayden was also an incredibly happy and smiley baby, who hit all of her fun milestones crazy-early. One thing was for sure, life was in session in the McAllister home.

A couple of months in to parenthood, we started getting the inevitable questions about when we would be having more kids. Most people had an opinion about the matter telling us things like, ‘You don’t want them too far apart’, or ‘You don’t want her to be an only child–then she won’t have anyone’, or ‘Don’t wait too long!’ To be honest, these comments felt intrusive and presumptuous, though I didn’t fully realize it at the time.

And then there were the comments from other moms (of two or more children), ‘One is so easy’, or ‘You only have one?’ Granted, this was not my interaction with all moms of multiples, but there were a few and it caught me off guard. I don’t believe that these comments were meant to be malicious, and I have learned to try not to take others personally (operative word being ‘try’), but if I am being honest, (I am), it felt a little passive aggressive.

Once upon a time, when being parents was just pillow-talk between Mike and I late at night, we planned on having two children. We each grew up with a sibling, and it seemed the natural thing to do. We also had very strong beliefs about exactly how we wold raise our hypothetical children. We were strong in or convictions. We would never raise our voices, never let our baby ‘cry it out’, never allow our child to throw tantrums in public, would allow for only minimal TV watching, never use modern technology (iPhones / iPads) as a means of child supervision, make all of our own baby food, etc, etc. We were so sure. And we were so wrong. If I have learned one thing from becoming a mother, it is that plans change quickly after a baby is born.

Cut to: Ayden’s 2nd Birthday, (the time of year we had planned to begin trying for baby #2.) We sat at or dining room table, us two. The conversation began. And then it happened; Mike had changed his mind. I couldn’t believe what he was saying; was he allowed to do this? Was he allowed to change his mind mid-game? I won’t go in to too many details about why, because this is my story to tell. I am speaking from my own experience, and it would be unfair to my husband if I attempted to write his story.

I will say this; that conversation led to more conversations, arguments, tears, praying, debates, soul-searching, a counseling session (with a not-so-great shrink), lots and lots of writing, weighing of options and eventually over time, acceptance. For the sake of my marriage and family, I had to come to a few conclusions:

  1. If I believe in a higher power (which I do, and choose to call it God ), than I am not really in charge of the whole game-plan. I cannot impose my will on anyone else; even my husband. If we are meant to have another child, then it will happen. If we are not meant to have another child, then we won’t. God is either everything or nothing. So in a sense, this situation was forcing me to dig deeper, spiritually.
  2. I was not willing to deceive or trick my husband in order to become pregnant again, and I was not willing to leave the marriage over it. This meant I needed to find a way to be ok with his change of heart. I didn’t have to like it, I just had to find a way to be ok (for now), with it.
  3. In order to become ok, I needed to find a deep sense of gratitude for the blessings that I already had in my life. I had to focus on all of the beautiful things, people and experiences that I am lucky enough to be afforded. I had to recognize that Mike and I are jackpot winners, when it comes to Ayden. I had to remember that not everyone who wants children get children, that some people lose hildren and that I have been blessed beyond measure in becoming a mother. I found that when I stay busy focusing on loving and appreciating what I have, I spend less time worrying about what I don’t have.

This doesn’t mean that some days I don’t drift in to the worrisome head space where I compare myself to or feel envious of others. And on those days, when I feel extra sensitive about it all, I do my best to be gentle with myself. I write a gratitude list about my life, I write down 5 things that I love and appreciate about my husband, I forgive him all over again for not always being perfectly in line with my desires and I remember that nothing is set in stone.

And some days, I am so content with our little trio, that I could explode with joy. I feel a deep sense of closeness between the three of us that is more fulfilling than I am capable of putting in to words.  I feel lucky. I feel full.

Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world that has experienced this with their spouse, which makes it even more daunting to write about. But the chance that someone may read this and relate, forces me to write my truth. Also, I have learned that when my feelings are fear-based, they’re usually off-base.

At the end of the day we really don’t know what other families are going through; whether it be fertility issues, losing a child or situations like mine. What I do know, is that it is never safe to assume. What I have decided to learn from this is that I can be happy. I can be happy if our parenting journey begins and ends with Ayden, or if we go on to have more children. And quite possibly the most important thing that I have learned is that either way, I am not less of a mom.

xo, Em

11 thoughts on “Discovering: I Am Not Less of a Mom

  1. This is beautiful. Let me just say that I am a completely happy, satisfied only child. I know that in my experience, I was able to do so much more than I would have had the chance to do had my parents had more children. I do not feel slighted in the least, and I have formed bonds with cousins and friends that I might not have, had I had siblings. You’re right that what’s meant to be will be, and God will always make that happen. My husband and I have been married for a little over a year now. When we met we assumed we would have children, and more than one. Now, luckily, we’ve BOTH changed our mind. We don’t know if we even want one. But we’ve talked, and decided that at some point we may “pull the goalie” (for lack of a better term), and leave it up to God. What’s meant to be, will always be.

    Your family is beautiful the way it is now, and it will remain beautiful if things change in the future. I think the most inspiring part of your post is that you clearly have an amazing relationship with your husband, and that is the most important part. For you, for him, and for Ayden. 😉

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  2. I read this and some of your other blogs this morning with my coffee.Thanks for bringing up the subject of having an only child.Being a mother of one myself I can relate.-I like how you kept that real.You are so right about not being less of a mom.Only children have so many advantages but also have there share of challenges.At the end of the day,your selflessness and respect of Mikes wishes will be honored by God.Your family will be beautiful one way or the other.-Good writing Em! I know you will write a book someday. 🙂

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  3. Thanks for sharing this Em! I’m an only child and because of that my mom and I are best friends. I think if I had another sibling my relationship with my mom would definitley have been different (not better or worse … Just different). Today, I look back and I’m grateful for all the special moments we shared together and woukdnt want it any other way. God knows what is best for you and will put exactly what you need in your life. I think he knew what he was doing with Ayden ;).

    All that being said, I’ve dreamed of being a mom since I was born. At 31 and 100% single, I look around at all of my friends having children and wonder why isn’t it my turn yet? Meanwhile getting the,”You don’t have kids – lucky!” comment. I constantly have to stop and count my blessings, not take things personally, and trust in God. We all deal with this struggle in one way or another…. You are not alone. Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, sarah. I fully believe you will become a mother!!! (I had ayden at 32). People don’t realize how personal some comments and questions are. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. 🙂 xo

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  4. Emily, As usual, this is great. Talk about honest! My man is 3.5. And he RULES. While i was pregnant, i hurt my back, and was in a lot of pain toward the end of my pregnancy, and had back surgery when he was just 5 months, putting me out of commission for 4 weeks. He was allergic to soy & dairy for the first year, which caused him real misery for the first chunk of his life. I couldn’t breastfeed, which crushed me. Long story short, it wasn’t a piece of cake.
    So now that he is 3.5 and potty trained, and HYSTERICAL, and smart…ok, you get it, i am not all that into going back there…atleast not just yet.
    Some days, i feel really awful about not giving him a sibling. Other days, i feel calm. I feel like i am doing a good job, and i am not overwhelmed. Which i love. My life is not chaos. I can’t do chaos.
    so, i focus on how insanely blessed i am to have a healthy, happy family of three. And that is good enough for me.
    xo,
    a

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  5. Thank you for writing this Em. Miss you BTW. My husband and I have been struggling to get pregnant for awhile. A few months ago I actually got pregnant but lost the baby. We’re still trying but I often wonder if it will ever happen. Since it’s taken so long, at this point it’s not looking like our dream of 2 kids will be in the cards. We’d be lucky to get one. It’s weird but, even before I get lucky enough to have one, I’m already grieving not getting to provide a sibling. Anyway, I love what you wrote. It seems there’s a lot of external and internal pressure to be the perfect mother these days…. or, maybe it’s always been that way but I just notice it now.

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