I’ve never been very maternal, never craved a child, longed to be a mother. I’ve been happy in my independence, free to do as I please, when I please. I’ve looked at mothers differently, stopped seeing the person and saw the child, and their obligation.
My husband and I were going to start trying for a baby after our marriage but I freaked out. I wasn’t ready, couldn’t envisage putting myself second, not being me. When we started trying properly 18 months ago, just before I turned 32, I was doing it because time was ticking. I still wasn’t fully ready and I wanted kids because I didn’t want to not have kids. It seemed too big and final a decision to make now, feeling the consequences of that decision for the rest of my life.
Our first baby is due by elective c-section very soon. I feel ready now. More than ready. I love feeling his or her little heel push against my skin, and sit in the palm of my hand that rests on my tummy. I love imagining his or her little face, little mouth. I’m excited to grow with my child, as we teach each other about life. I’m excited to teach him or her times tables. Weird, I know.
But there’s another more rational side to my excitement. I dream that my child will love me, excel and make me proud, not make the mistakes and waste the opportunities I have. But that’s naive. He or she might not, might choose to be something I abhor. Might turn round one day and say ‘mum, I disagree. I know you hate to acknowledge your inferiority but I believe women are innately inferior to men. This is my reasoned belief and you can’t change it.’ There are certain things you can screen for in the womb, but not that.
We might face medical complications. He or she could be blind, or deaf. Might have learning disabilities. Beyond physical challenges, children might not be the key to a happier life. I saw research years ago that said people with children are no happier than people without children, they simply have different pleasures and different pains. So while I let my mind skip away into my fantasy, the dreamy ballet shows I’ll soak up next to my captivated children, the happy holidays and proud parents evenings, I’m not totally lost to the fantasy. I imagine the screaming rows too, my eternal tiredness, frustrations. Questioning where I lost myself. What happened to my life.
So I thought I might try and keep a diary of my experiences from now.
It’s good that pregnancy is 9 months, it gave me time to adjust to things. I’ve been mostly lucky in pregnancy, and haven’t faced the shockers others do. Though it hasn’t all been easy and my relatively easy pregnancy is still miles away from the perfect pregnancy the propaganda tells us to expect.
In 9 months I’ve learned about the mountains of bullshit that surround pregnancy. The unqualified and unverified opinions that are thrown at you. The judgement. Eternal judgement whatever you do. And the sacrifice. It’s hard. You sacrifice and sacrifice and no-one says well done, they say good, as you should. Think of the child. You no longer matter, think of the child. No, medicine hasn’t figured out a way to ease your burden, but don’t worry, your pain will pass. Think of the child.
I think I’m lucky that there’s a big trend now for mums to publicly speak more honestly, talk of the reality versus the propaganda. But the very fact it’s still a trend means it’s new and not established. I want to add another voice to the choir and sing about my truths of motherhood. The truths of being a parent and the truths of still being a person with needs and dreams and hopes and fears.
Motherhood has always seemed alien to me. Now I’m getting onto the mothership.