This blog entry will be a little more personal, so if you would like to maintain your image of me as quippy and crafty, wait for the next blog entitled Booties! (And I can’t blame you if you like that image of me – I prefer it myself, for the most part.)
First, I know some amazing women who have had babies or are about to have babies. It is really cool to be at the age to see women I admire becoming moms. You know that because they are so unique, so inspiring, so darling, that they are going to have the best kids and be the best moms. You see them become fuller people (and not just in the belly), because they are about to experience the most amazing process and be the mom of another human being (IMAGINE – the mom of another human being!)
But, like, all things, there are two sides. I am not going to have a baby. Not ever. And selfishly, stupidly, sillily, that makes me pretty sad sometimes. Because I think I would be a great mom. I am way smart, way funny, way energetic, and way loving. Way! But that isn’t the whole side of that story…
I saw my mom right after going to a baby shower recently, and she asked me “was it very hard?” Only she would know to ask that question. I just started crying. I mean baby showers aren’t my favorite things in the world, but it was for an amazing woman who will be an amazing mom and I am over-the-moon happy for her. But sometimes it is hard knowing that I won’t be a biological mom. And, because it will be easier to explain in list format, let me tell you why…
(list 22) Why it is hard knowing I will never be a biological mom
1. Because I have the best mom in the world. And I think I know how she does it. Over the years I have learned her tricks of how to completely know and completely love another person. And there really isn’t an outlet for that except motherhood. It would be creepy to love another adult that way, and it would be creepy to love my stepkids that way. And it makes me sad (or whatever that thing is after sad) that I will never be able to use that knowledge. It is like learning to cook from Julia Childs and not having a kitchen.
2. Dolls. Any daughter I would have would love dolls. Almost as much as I loved them. And pink. And tea sets and flouncy dresses. And it would be great to be able to share all those things with a child who had to listen because I am the mom.
3. That whole genetics thing. I am an only child and will not have a child – and there are some good genes that will never see the light of day again. And in my less gaurded moments I think of the charming, competent braniac DH and I would create. She would be unstoppable. Although she also would probably be chubby, have terrible vision, and be slightly clutzy. But in an adorable way.
4. Being a parent might be the toughest job in the world, but I think being a stepmom or stepdad gives it a run for its money. In many ways, you have most of the responsibilities for being a mom (in my case, most of those are just financial) and all of the worry, without the loyalty, decision-making power, or built-in genetic thing. I love my stepkids as much as I would love any kid of my own, but that is not reciprocated. They are loyal to their mom – as they should be. I wouldn’t want anything different for them, and DH does everything he can to shoulder the burdens, but it is like learning to cook from Julia Childs, not having a kitchen, being a vegetarian, and having someone else cook veal parmesan that I have to pay for and not being able to take the veal parmesan to Take Your Kids to Work Day. Ok, that simile totally broke down, but I know my sophisticated readers know what I mean.
The other part of this is that the benefits of not having kids (and there are plenty!) are not completely realized because I still am a parent. Not the mom and not the dad, but I still have school functions, and weekends where DH and I are at the will of the darlings, and clothes and books and toys to buy. (And did I mention the worry? Yea, that is still there.)
5. My parents. There was no kid loved more than me – and there would be no grandkid loved more. And my biggest sadness about choosing to not have kids is thinking of my parents – and what they are missing out on, and what a grandkid would miss out on. They love and adore the twins, but it is different – different access, different relationship.
So that is all with the whining, now the positive, or at least realistic, spin. I chose this. Most of my life I have chosen school and career over the things that get you married with kids. And that was my choice. And then I chose a man who already had kids and didn’t want more. At the time I “chose”, I wasn’t sure I wanted kids. (And for those who have wanted kids since they were kids, I am sure they are crying Party Foul! but some people just don’t know, and I was one of them. And if pressed, I would say I didn’t want kids to hide a desire that I was sure would never be realized.) And I didn’t really choose my husband. I met the smartest, sweetest, most interesting man who seemed to be delivered from my dreams. A wish I had never had the courage to wish for. And he showed up practically on a platter, with falafel, hummus, good greek olives, and two four-year olds. Even with the Jerusaelem cafe vegetarian platter and the future stepkids, there was no “choice”.
And having stepkids and not biological kids is my life challenge, and my parents’ too. After the crying bout, I told my mother that the only way I am going to get through this is to know that I will somehow leave my imprint on my stepkids. That some part of the amazing people they will become will have some of my amazingness. And she said “Of course. It already has happened.” So, that’s good. And that kind of love is a challenge without the inherit easiness of biological parenthood – and I loves me a challenge! So, when I see them this weekend I am going to try anew to leave them with part of me. To be amazing, inspirational, funny, smart, challenging enough that they want to incorporate some part of me into their emerging personhood. I know I can do it – and if you know me, you know I can do it.
And I am very, very, very lucky to know some great women who don’t have kids and won’t ever have kids. And they are an inspiration to me to make my life as loving and as full as theirs are without the traditional ending and beginning. You all help me get through the damn ticking of the damn clock. And I know this will be a challenge my whole life – this not being a mom thing – and it is nice to have a network of those who I can lean on. (As well as the cybernetwork of childlessstepmoms.com – an invaluable resource.) And I hold out hope that someday I will make a friend who shares this same experience – being a stepmom but not a biological mom – and we can lean on each other.
Sorry for the pity parade, it now is ending with a baton thrower. I’m cool. I’m happy. All of the energy I would put towards biological motherhood can be put towards equally worthwhile things. And I can get a solid 8-hours sleep! And I love babies – other peoples’ babies, that is.