Today, my beautiful friend Danielle and some of my other co-workers threw me a baby shower at work. Two other women at our school are expecting boys, and our school wanted to celebrate this with us which I totally appreciated. However, I’m not really thrilled to be the center of attention. I’m not girly, I feel kind of awkward when people are watching me open gifts, and I think to myself, “So many of these people would rather be somewhere else.” Because of this, I sometimes fail to enjoy the moment. But, I am who I am… Which brings me to the reason I decided to blog in the first place.
One thing I realized during my baby shower two weeks ago and the shower today at work is that “it” still hasn’t set in. I’m surrounded by onesies and burp clothes and bibs and little socks and booties. What used to be our home office is now a quaint nursery with a crib, rocking chair and soft blankets. I look around at this stuff, and I wonder why I don’t feel different. How can I not feel different? Each day, I have the feet of a little 4.5 lb boy kicking my ribs. It’s uncomfortable. It’s fascinating that he’s in there growing and I’ll meet him in fewer than six weeks. But I don’t glow and talk about it all the time. And for this entire pregnancy, I’ve often felt one emotion: guilt. Guilt because I am not what everyone seems to expect me to be.
Early in my pregnancy, when I literally couldn’t do anything but hug the toilet seat or clutch a plastic bag in the car, I wondered why I got pregnant in the first place. And I felt guilty. As this pregnancy has gone on, we’ve had to make financial sacrifices–no, we can’t spend money on that for Christmas because we need to buy furniture for the nursery–and I wondered why I got pregnant in the first place. And I felt guilty. When I tell someone I may not have another child, that one might be enough for me, and they look at me funny, I feel guilty. When people tell me that breastfeeding is the absolute BEST thing for a child and it will be SO detrimental if I don’t succeed in doing it, I feel anxious–what if I can’t or don’t? Does that make me a bad mother? And I feel guilty.
But I’ve been thinking about things lately. When I went to high school, and many of the girls around me loved to shop til they dropped… or wore a lot of make-up… or had more purses and shoes than they knew what to do with… or had sex with their boyfriends while I waited til marriage… Did I feel guilty? Did I feel like less of a woman? No. So why should becoming a mother let me question who I am?
I don’t think natural labor is the most beautiful miracle in the world. I think it’s going to be painful and I don’t look forward to it. Will it be completely and totally worth it? For sure. When I see what I hope is a healthy, tan baby who resembles my husband, I will probably forget about all the nausea, all the contractions, all the discomfort, and I’ll be totally content. I’ll forget about all the anxiety and all the wonderings and all the, “Why did I get pregnant?” However, I can ALMOST guarantee I’ll never smile and tell someone that I didn’t want every painkiller in the world while I went through it.
I would like to get my Masters degree and still pursue a career while simultaneously mothering my child. Some people would call this selfish. Well, guess what? I don’t care about some people anymore. My husband and I love each other, and intend to raise our son with as much love, faith and support as we are able to give. Our son will be surrounded by family members who adore him and will guide him as he grows and makes decisions. I’m learning that I don’t have to feel guilty for being me AND being a mother.
One of my closest friends who recently had a daughter wrote me a note that simply said this: “Don’t let ‘mommy guilt’ get to you.” It’s probably the best advice I’ve gotten so far. I’ll never wear a ton of make-up, buy designer purses or wear high heels. Just like I probably won’t have 5 kids and dedicate my life to homeschooling them all. I respect and admire many of my friends who have mastered the art of being a woman and a mother. And what I notice when I look at all of them is that they are all different. All good mothers, but all different.
I am who I am. And I think today, I’m okay with that.