Growing up, motherhood was never on my radar.
I wasn’t one of those girls who dreamed of one day becoming a wife and later a mother. My own parents divorced when I was seven and I barely remember them being together. Because of my own weak family structure, growing up to one day have a happy and healthy one didn’t seem like an attainable goal.
When I hear my boss at work gush about how wonderful, caring, generous and loving her mother is, I’m jealous because I don’t feel that way about my own. My mother and I have never been particularly close.
Even when I was young, I could tell she found parenthood overwhelming. Being married with a child at 18 she miss out on a lot. Over the years, she grew to resent me more and more for not being the daughter she had envisioned. Chubby, antisocial, sensitive, and quiet.
Whenever I try to think of the good days, I am reminded of the bad days. Like the time when I was eight and she beat me with a broom for dropping a bowl of Spaghetti-o’s on the floor. Set off by the simplest of childhood behavior, she would began to shake me so violently that her boyfriend Clarence would have to pull her off of me.
My own mother has told me numerous times to never have children.
“Be an auntie,” she would say. “That way, when the kid gets sick or something, you can just call their parents to come pick them up!”
I've taken her advice so far. While other girls my age were getting knocked up in high school or shortly after graduation, I moved to the bay area for college when I was 18.
Remaining childfree has given me the ability to pick up and go wherever I please. I’ve been living in New York City for about four years now, not including the nine months I spent abroad in Amsterdam. If someone ever asked me about having children I would scrunch up my face and tell them all the reasons why I didn’t like babies.
“All babies do is eat,poop, and take up valuable time and resources.” Besides, I’d scoff, “I didn’t rack up all of this college debt to end up running behind a bunch of children all day.”
Over the last few years, my feelings have changed. Now with the fear of teenage pregnancy long behind me, I’m beginning to see my peers pair off into happily married couples. It seems like every time I log on to Facebook there is some old high school or college classmate gushing about her upcoming nuptials or showing off pics of her swollen baby bump.
Things like this didn’t used to bother me but now, dare I say, I’m a tad jealous.
Almost overnight, I’ve become that lady coo-ing at strangers babies while waiting in line for coffee. As I click through the pregnancy photos of my friends in the wee hours of the morning, I ask myself, “ Have I been wrong all along?”
It’s also not unusual for my mother to lash out and blame me for her failures in life.
During my senior year of college, I tried to discuss some deep-seated issues I’ve had with her since childhood. Not trying to hear it, she clapped back with the mother to daughter insult of all time. “I screwed up my life having you. I should have had an abortion. I could have been somebody!”
Even today, it’s commonplace for my phone calls and text messages to go unanswered by her. Throughout the years I’ve just grown to accept that is who she is, and things are how they are.
And yet in some ways I am just like my mother. I am funny and outgoing just like she is and we’re both commitment phobes who value our independence. At this point in my life, mom’s advice on “keeping them eggs where they at” is proving to be the best choice for me.
But just because I saw my mother struggle with parenthood, does that mean history will repeat itself?