My desire to be a mom lasted for about five minutes in my mid-twenties. I was standing in the living room of my very first apartment with my ex-husband. I think we were decorating a Christmas tree and I thought "I could have children with this man." Watching him with his brother's kids was nothing short of magic. He brought out all of the laughter and smiles easily, while I awkwardly fumbled to connect on such a carefree level. Acting child-like heightened my self-consciousness, a paralyzing fear I struggled with for most of my adult life. I listened to all the women who told me "it's different when they are your own" but I was reluctant to test that theory. The urge passed and the marriage ended for a host of unrelated reasons.
My choice to "opt out" of motherhood never really bothered me until this year. I'm not sure if it's because that window has closed for me or because I'm also fast approaching a sobriety milestone that brings its own avalanche of emotions. Somehow, the decision feels selfish, although I never in a million years need to justify it. I've just watched friends go through a lot of hurdles in pursuit of parenthood this past year, and it pains me that they can't get what they so desperately want. My mother was one of those women, so I'm happy today that I can celebrate our union on this earth, and the fact that she helped solidify my place in this world.
I was not my mother's first pregnancy, but I would be my parents' only child. Her mom also struggled with infertility so, without a doubt, part of my decision was fueled by fear. When I came along, I was my mother's world. And by some twist of fate, she was blessed with a willful, independent daughter.
In learning more about her mom, I think that perhaps like height or blue eyes, rebellion skips a generation. Mom says by age two, I was pulling away when she tried to tie my shoes, insisting "I do it." By junior high, I was designing my own clothes and on the verge of a thrifting obsession. Mom indulged me most of the time, but I remember a few outfits she frowned upon. I think she longed for the sweet young girl she could outfit in handmade sundresses.
By fifteen, we were at war with each other. I resisted her every attempt to be a responsible parent while I was out being an irresponsible teenager. Somehow, we muddled through and came out on the other side as close friends. I leaned on her heavily as I navigated relationships in my twenties. Mom never judged as I poured my heart out, trusting me to come to the right conclusion on my own. Sometimes I wish it had come with a dose of tough love, but that just isn't her style.
Our relationship is far from perfect, but far better than some. She remains my biggest cheerleader, even though I lean on her less often than I used to. We have taught each other a great deal about patience and acceptance. Today, I taught her how to use Zoom and it felt as though somehow things had come full circle. I know she is incredible proud of her daughter, the woman she raised to be a great wife, career woman, and writer. I'm incredibly proud to call her Mom and beyond grateful that she never gave up on that dream.
"Follow your heart" ~Judy Campbell