I considered not having children. Seriously.
I’ve had people say, “Oh Shandra, I’m praying that you’ll get pregnant. You HAVE to have kids. You’ll be missing out!” Really? Who says? You? And since when does anyone HAVE to? I didn’t know it was a requirement to live out others’ expectations. Such a controversial topic I know, and yet I’ve always wondered why. We are all created so differently, we live in crazy times, life is ours to figure out and live out. Right? Oh I used to get so furious at the flippant comments and dictatorial(possibly narrow minded) attitudes.
Parenting is a daunting task. It is not for the faint of heart. I understood that fully and wasn’t sure I wanted the responsibility of raising a human being who would eventually make their own choices and decisions, influenced by how they were raised. Ugh. I used to listen to all the conversations about dysfunctional families, the whole, “I won’t do what my parents did,” and wondered truthfully if it would be worth the risk. What if I’m not the parent I think I’ll be? What if, what if, what if? The thoughts plagued me. I really wasn’t convinced I was up to the task. I can just hear some of you now, gasping and quite possibly you’re one of those who thinks everyone needs to experience parenthood. It’s just what you do.
Then I found out I WAS pregnant. Decision made. Was I upset? Absolutely not. I had a great pregnancy, horrible labour and delivery, and voila – the most beautiful little creature was laying in my arms. She was the epitome of baby-dom – happy, content, traveled well, slept through the night early on, completely wonderful. My second child was quite the opposite. He cried nonstop for 10 months, was hardly tolerable and everyone in the house was utterly exhausted and sleep deprived as a result. Then we found out he was born with cancer and there was a reason for his tears. As horrible as it was, at least we had an answer. We came out on top – he’s just fine and is now considered cured. The third little addition to the family (who would have ever thought from potentially none to three??), was somewhere in between. She wasn’t the ideal, she wasn’t completely fussy either, but she was certainly unique and she made the craziest baby faces ever!
Fast forward a few years and I do have a mixture of emotions in tackling this topic. Tonight I watched my youngest at gymnastics, saw the gleam in her eye and the excitement on her face. It is etched in my memory forever. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her that happy or expressive. Pure joy. Last night I watched Mitch at his first soccer practice of the season, his first time in a league since we moved to Calgary 3 years ago. Peeling him off the ceiling would be an understatement. My teenager loves theatre and it does my heart good to see her light up when she talks about live productions, her musical theatre class, or her part in the school play. Love it, love it, love it, love it. Yes I find parenting a huge challenge, emotionally draining and utterly rewarding all in one big package.
I can’t even imagine not having my kids now (I’ve heard that one once or twice before!), but I clearly remember the consideration of whether to take the plunge into parenthood or not, and the emotions attached when the comments came flying. I think about those who do choose not to have children, those who haven’t been able to have kids, and those who may have lost children. You have no idea what goes on in another household – what choices they make, what challenges they face. I sometimes think we pass judgments too quickly, project our own beliefs or expectations on others, and are far too vocal when it comes to the ‘you shoulds’ of baby making. As a result we create an environment that brings discomfort or a need to defend our choices, even if it is unintentional.
My hope is that in reading this you will think before you speak, respect others’ choices as exactly that – their choices. I also hope that you will adopt an attitude that recognizes we are not all cut from the same cloth, we don’t all fit the same mold and therefore we cannot expect everyone to automatically see things as we see them. Besides, don’t you know they broke the mold when you arrived on the scene?! HA!
Don’t ask me where this rant came from….not a clue.
Food for Thought
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” ~ Stacia Tauscher