BurlingtonVT Moms Blog is partnering with Vermont Midwives Association to bring you our latest series titled “How I Became a Mother” in honor of Mother’s Day. Each of us has a unique journey on how we got here…here being in this crazy thing called motherhood. Some of us have grown our families through adoption, some through donor sperm. Some of us have struggled with infertility while others of us have needed to rely on faith and science. Bringing a child into this world is no less than miraculous regardless of how it’s done. These next two weeks we want to share with you the stories of how we became mothers, to let you know that no two families are born the same. Join us on this journey as we celebrate Moms!
Letting Go & Letting In
I have carried within me a deep yearning to have children since I was practically one myself, and this hopeful craving has guided decisions I’ve made, risks I’ve taken, and directions I’ve forged.
For a long time, in the days before Ang came along, I envisioned my future self mothering happy, healthy kids with “someone” who wanted the same life. This story of my future mama-ness was so integral to my sense of self that I fell into that painful trap of plunking every person I dated into the “someone” fantasy and taking them for an imaginary test drive.
It goes like this:
8th grade boyfriend: You and I like the same names (April and Zack), both want a golden retriever when we grow up, and both like Bel Biv Devoe. Done. Let’s get married and have kids. Too bad you dumped me on graduation day. I cried all through the dance. I guess we won’t be building that house with a hot tub and skylights.
College boyfriend: You are hilarious and really fun to be around. You are great with parents, kids and animals. Also, you were an Eagle Scout and you watch “ER” and figure skate with me. Let’s get engaged and move to Seattle together and then raise a pack of kids. Oh, and let’s keep putting off the date of the wedding until we eventually realize we are more like brother and sister than romantic partners and amicably go our separate ways, sharing custody of the dog.
First girlfriend: Holy crap, I’m a lesbian! This is starting to make a lot of sense! But wait, lesbians can’t have Happily Ever After and be parents…can they? I don’t know, I don’t know any gay families, I have to look around. Also, if I have kids with a woman, uh, how… how would we have kids? And who gets to be the mom? I don’t know if this is going to work.
Older Divorced Girlfriend: So, I know you already have kids with your ex AND you are a super busy high-powered bad-ass who travels internationally for work all the time and you have a serious auto-immune condition that is worsening, but, um, if we’re going to stay together you are going to have to have some kids with me…hello?
And so it goes.
I suspect a lot of those of us who knew early that having children was paramount in life have fallen in love with the story in our head before it plays out in real time and struggle with what unfolds in real life.
As I grew older, I came to a deeper sense of clarity about what real long-term partnership requires. I came to realize that who you get into the parenting gig with is a sophisticated thing requiring a lot more of me than my younger self could have understood: vulnerability, patience, openness, courage. I shifted my focus from how a potential partner fit into my fantasy story of raising a family toward how I could become the best, most healthy version of myself, regardless of where life was going to take me. It took some time, but I gently let go of the story I had been carrying around and worked hard to just show up for what life was going to bring. This was liberating and terrifying at the same time.
Who we parent with is at the foundation of our very parenthood itself. Single parents by choice and “accidental” parents have a different experience of this, but those of us who coupled and then chose to build families know this to be true. What I find remarkable about my own journey to motherhood is that when I got where I was going, it looked so much different than I had imagined : it looked better.
In my wife, I found someone who takes parenting a seriously as I do and was willing to commit herself to it fully. I found someone with a heart as big as the ocean, patience for miles, and a quiet, relaxed demeanor to off-set my gregarious ENFP-ness. I found someone with a whip-smart sense of humor, a penchant for goofiness and a belief that kids should be happy, comfy, grubby and maybe even slightly bruised at the end of the best days. I found someone who shares my values but gives me a run for my money on the day to day of how things are “supposed” to be. I found someone who cleans 50% of the poop and was willing to move 3500 miles back to Vermont with me because it was the right place to raise our twins.
My wife has helped to make me the mother I am. Our life together is now the setting of our children’s childhood, and how we parent consistently reflects the influence we have on each other. I am so grateful and deeply fortunate that I chose wisely.