I never planned to be a mom. That’s a bold statement since I am one. But it’s true.
As a little girl, I fantasized more about career options than kids. I didn’t play with dolls. In fact, they kind of creeped me out. When I played, I pretended I was a vet, or an artist, or a fashion designer, or maybe a Broadway star. I didn’t pretend I was a mom. Motherhood just wasn’t part of my plan.
This mindset didn’t change much for me as I got older. I never babysat in high school or college and generally wasn’t a fan of kids. If someone brought a baby near me, I recoiled in near-horror and declined all offers to hold them.
By the time I hit my 20s, people who knew me knew better than to ask when I was having kids. For those who didn’t know me as well, once they heard my answer they never told me I’d change my mind when I got older. I guess my quick and adamant “NO!” was pretty convincing.
I met my husband in my mid 20s and we got married in our early 30s. Even then, no one asked when we’d be having kids. They already knew the answer. “Never.” We were free, and we liked it that way, thank you very much. My mom gave up all hope of becoming a grandmother and was perfectly content doting on our four dogs who she dubbed her “granddoggies.”
So what happened? How did I, the independent, career-focused, never-having-kids-no-way-no-how woman end up here?
Well, it was a surprise.
This isn’t something we talk about often, as mothers, as a society – unplanned pregnancies for married couples who didn’t want kids. It’s almost taboo. Because if you’re married and pregnant, of course you planned it and of course you want kids. But I didn’t. And I spent the majority of my pregnancy terrified. Terrified that I’d be a horrible mother, terrified because I’d never held a baby before in my entire life and had no idea what I was going to do with this tiny human once he arrived, terrified that my life would turn into something horribly unrecognizable.
I lost friends because of this. People didn’t get it. And I understand that. With so many couples out there who try and try to get pregnant and can’t, how could I, someone who didn’t even want kids, end up pregnant so easily? It’s not fair, and I realize that and acknowledge other people’s struggles and feelings. But that doesn’t mean my feelings were invalid and the lifestyle I planned for myself was wrong. To me, life had turned upside down and I had no idea what was going to happen next.
When I first saw the positive pregnancy test, I cried. I’m fairly certain I saw my life flash before my eyes because at that moment, I thought my life as I knew it was over. And the reality was my life as I knew it was over. But not in the way that I thought.
My sweet little boy was about to bring more love and adventure into my life than I ever thought possible. He was also about to introduce to me to the world of Frozen, The Good Dinosaur, Cars, and Mighty Machines. I now know more about trucks than I’d ever thought I would, and our house looks more like a daycare center than a magazine spread. I also know the joy of watching him learn new things. The way his eyes light up and his big, proud smile when he throws a ball or paints a picture.
And those feelings of terror? I’d love to say they melted away the first time I held him (which by the way, was the first time I’d ever held a baby). But they didn’t. They just transformed into a new kind of terror. The kind where I knew I had to do everything in my power to protect this precious little boy, to teach him how to be a good human, and to ultimately, let him grow up and let him go.
My son is now a tornado of a toddler, and I’m a little over two years into this mom thing (stop growing up so fast, baby boy!). And I’m pretty sure my 20-something self would run away screaming if she looked into the future and caught a glimpse of my current life. Heck, sometimes my current 30-something self wants to run away screaming, but I wouldn’t trade it. While my life has definitely changed, I’m still me. I still run, I’m still chugging along quite well in my career, and I still have a social life (although sometimes that social life involves sippy cups and the kiddie pool). And I have my little mini me by my side.
It’s not easy – not that I ever expected it to be. I still have moments where I miss my kid-free freedom (doesn’t every parent when they’re in the midst of a toddler temper tantrum?). And there are still times when I’m fairly certain I have no idea what I’m doing (um…stopping the temper tantrum?). But then, neither does my son, so we’re learning together.
People ask me what I’ll tell him about all this. Won’t he feel like a mistake if he finds out we didn’t plan for him, they ask? And to that I say, no, my son will never feel like a mistake. Because he wasn’t. And I’ll tell him that, yes, he was a surprise, but not an accident. He was unexpected, but not unwanted. And then I’ll tell him that yes, it’s true, I didn’t plan to be a mom, but that he was the only person in the entire world who could change my mind about that. Because he’s mine. And that makes him pretty special.