When I was younger I always said I didn’t want children. For a multitude of reasons. I was THAT person. The one when you shoved your bundles of joy into my arms I had the “deer in headlights” look plastered on my face. The “what the hell do you want me to do with this squirming, crying thing” girl who hates bodily fluids, shrill noises, and such. Um no thank you.
I avoided baby showers and first birthdays like the plague. Something always came up right before and I would “regrettably” have to cancel. My childhood friends always said I would never have kids. I married my ex husband shortly after turning 23. He, fully aware of this, respected it and married me anyways.
I think a lot of it had to do with the fact I basically raised my younger brothers. My mom suffered a traumatic brain injury when I was 13 and my bio father was a raging, emotionally detached alcoholic. My mother didn’t know who I was for a year and a half, not to mention what the hell was going on day to day. Thankfully she did go through rehab and made a somewhat full recovery. But I spent those formative years being mom and not a typical teenager.
Fast forward to age 27. Financially secure and had recently purchased the first home. I don’t know what happened. The fact that everyone I knew was starting families, biological clock pounding, or maybe the next logical thing on the life checklist. Who knows. But I woke up one December morning, looked at my then husband, and said those words…I think we should have a baby.
Now my ex who had resided to the fact we were never going to have kids was elated. I stopped taking birth control and we stopped using protection. Those two months I didn’t think much about it. One late February night I was on the phone with one of my best friends, drinking my glass of wine as I do most nights, all the sudden I threw my guts up in the bushes. I still remember thinking to myself, oh fuck. What have I done because I knew, I knew at that moment I was pregnant.
And six pregnancy tests later, all positive mind you, I was. What struck me odd is I was excited. Really excited. Then the dread set in. Oh my god what am I going to do? I’m an asshole. No really an asshole. I was terrified that I was going to be an absolutely awful mother. What the hell was I thinking?!?! But okay, seriously I can handle this I told myself.
I had a wonderfully easy pregnancy, worked up to the day before I had my precious son though I was in labor on and off for two weeks but never mind that. When they placed him in my arms everything changed. Those thoughts of self doubt melted away and maternal instincts took over. He was the best baby. He spit up twice, no joke, on my mother both times thank god. Never really drooled, put things in his mouth, and enjoyed being clean.
My son has grown into one of the sweetest, well mannered, and intelligent child a parent could want. Kind to no end, shy, and sensitive. So sensitive. Me being a very tough, rough around the edges, snarky, and sarcastic person I can be one of the least sensitive people I know. I sometimes hurt the feelings of friends unknowingly, absolutely not on purpose but it’s just the way I am. Things come tumbling out before I think of the outcome, mouth diarrhea.
The past eleven years have been a struggle. I am not that kind, sweet, doting mother that comes to mind for most. I remember when he was about four he fell off his bike, skinned his knee, and crying his poor little eyes out. I calmly walked over, crouched down, checked out the damage and determined it didn’t need stitches, just some alcohol and a bandaid. I calmly and reasonably talked to him and told him to tough it out. No biggie.
My friend looked at me in horror when I walked back over to sit down and said “you aren’t going to kiss his boo-boo?” I looked at her and said “what the hell is that going to do?” Maybe my actions weren’t the right response but hey I’m human and well I am who I am. Nobody’s perfect. And no I have never read any of those “what to do” books. I winged it.
But that incident did make me look at things differently. Perhaps I did have something to learn about sensitivity. Over the years my son has taught me that I too can be sensitive and I like to think that maybe I have taught him how to stand on his own two feet. He has been bullied for years. Not beat up but more of the name calling, mostly nerd, dork, geek. He would come home crying and it would take moving mountains for him to tell me why. One day he finally did, not too long ago.
My first response was “throat punch them”. Oops. He looked at me wide eyed and say “mom I can’t do that it’s not nice”. Well it’s what I did. I was that kid that chose to fight instead of flight. So I refocused and came up with this. I said “you know those kids who say those things to you and make fun of you because you’re smart? Well one they’re jealous and two most likely one day you are going to be their boss. And you know what that scares the hell out of them.”
The satisfying grin on his face told me I had finally reached an understanding with my precious, sensitive little man. His confidence seems to be soaring now which might have brought a tear to my eye when he walked across the stage this morning, beaming a smile ear to ear with his head up, for 5th grade ceremony to accept the excellence in math award. So maybe this asshole has finally gained some sensitivity. Maybe. I guess time will tell.