Going into this motherhood journey of mine, I wasn’t but a kid myself. I managed to conceive the week after my twenty-first birthday, finding out about six weeks later. I freaked out because I had just spent those six weeks celebrating the legal status that came along with this milestone birthday – the one which made me a full-fledged adult in my naïve, youthful, barely grown logic.
Entering motherhood when I still hadn’t matured as an individual… still hadn’t fully experienced adulthood… still hadn’t grown out of my childhood… was a challenge in and of itself. My life was only beginning to unravel itself. Everything I knew about responsibility and stability was merely secondhand knowledge, as I had barely gotten my feet wet thus far.
Now I had to add raising a child to the mix. All the secondhand knowledge I had about that wasn’t going to get me very far. Despite spending the mass majority of my childhood looking after everyone lessens children, I knew there was so much more to being a parent than what went into babysitting. I needed to fill in the gaps my dysfunctional, alcoholic parents had left out of the equation, so I began a quest to learn how to be a “real” mother.
The first thing I did was run out and purchase every copy of the ‘What To Expect…” series- the original expecting one, the first year, and the toddler years were all covered now. But, just in case, I grabbed a copy of The Everything Baby’s First Year, The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide, and Mother & Child: A Journey from Conception to Birth. One can never have too many books, after all. I read them all, cover to cover, before I ever felt my fetus kick for the first time. I already began picturing how my journey would unfold.
Then I discovered how wonderful the creation of reality television was in the beginning of this new century. A Baby Story, A Birth Story, A Special Delivery, Make Room For Baby, Bringing Home Baby: Multiples… every episode of every season was meticulously studied and dually noted. How did mothers and fathers look and appear? What kind of lifestyles did these adults have? How did these couples interact within their marriages? What kind of celebrations did they have? What kind of clothes, gear, nursery décor, car seats, etc., did the parents choose? What was their birth plan, what type of birth, and what complications arose? My needs to know grew with every passing day.
In between the books and boob tube, I engrossed myself with baby and parenting themed magazines and milestone tracking websites. I joined chat communities. There was no end in sight to the resources I was using to fill in the empty space left by my fading youth. By the time my baby shower rolled around, I had a clear picture of exactly how my life would play out forevermore. Just like a grownup version of my favorite childhood game, M.A.S.H., I had hand-selected every critical detail of the life I would be providing for this baby. I never wanted it to grow up in a remotely related environment as I had been raised in. And certainly not in one like the deadbeat loser sperm donor had brought to the table, either. Every last detail was figured out. I knew exactly what I wanted, how I wanted it, where I wanted it, when I wanted it. Nothing was too good and perfection was required.
Then I opened my gifts.
It was all wrong. I swore I would never allow my baby to use those cheap, store-brand and knock-off dollar store items. God only knew what kind of poisonous, cancer-causing chemicals were in those products. It was MY right as the mother to decide what brands were acceptable and it seemed like I was being disrespected before my child had even been born! What was the point of having a registry if no one was going to use it?
When my son was born, I carried on with the madness. Focusing on the image of motherhood portrayed in these resources, I continued my quest. Every time, though, life handed me limes to make my lemonade with. The farther along into my journey I went, the farther away from my picture of perfection I got. The life I had expected was always just out of reach. No ostentatiously decorated nurseries. No fancy strollers. No baby scrapbooks with accompanying video diaries. The high-tech, high-class baby monitors, cradles, and swings I had coveted were out of my realm of possibilities. The adult relationship I craved was just a joke to my boyfriend – instead of a marriage proposal and a mortgage I got a defunct apartment and a second pregnancy.
The resulting disappointments gnawed at my tender heart. I allowed them the power to control my emotional state. They crept in when I was preoccupied with being in love with the living piece of my heart I wanted to hold tight and breathe in deeply forevermore. They made me feel guilty for being so young; I knew it was why I couldn’t provide all the nice things those participants of my never-ending studies had. Couldn’t even give my child parents who were joined in holy matrimony for better or worse, let alone, a farther who wanted to rise to the role of family man. Before my baby and his unborn sibling had a chance in this world, I had failed them, miserably. I felt worthless compared to those mothers I so greatly admired in their mall store bought maternity wear and white picket fenced-in suburbia homes. I said I would never, yet here I was; everything I hadn’t imagined.
Twelve years later… I am looking back at those days over four not-so little anymore heads as a married woman to good, family man, laughing at the naivety of my youth. All those things I never expected or wanted or imagined ever mattered in the first place. The whole ordeal was completely unnecessary. And insanely unrealistic. Life… motherhood… marriage… none of it can be scripted ahead of time. There is no copying someone else’s game plan, because everyone gets a very different test. I was quite the immature, materialistic narcissist when I first became a mother at twenty-one, but my children have changed me. For the better.
I am living every never I swore against and couldn’t be in a happier place. The only thing I ever needed to be the perfect mother I was hard-driven to become was love. I had plenty of that to give all along.
My subject is: “Ahh, naivete . . . what are some things that, before you had kids, you swore you’d never do but ended up doing”.
It was submitted by: Baking In A Tornado.
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Baking In A Tornado