The Fear of Becky Homecky

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

A friend of mine who is “considering” having a baby has caused me to think back a bit lately on what it was like when I decided to have my second child.

Decided. Man, that still sounds strange to me.

You see, for a lot of you women out there you always knew you would be a mom someday. You’d grow up, you’d get married, you’d have babies – maybe you’d work, maybe you wouldn’t, whatever – but motherhood was always part of the plan.

For women like that, I don’t know if you can ever understand how hard it can be to be completely surprised by an emotion that seems to resemble a maternal instinct.

This friend, she’s like me. That bizarre species of woman that not only never thought about having kids, but at some point may have even said “kids? me? no freaking way.” For a lot of us it’s in part because we grew up poor, or we helped raise younger siblings, or whatever, and we spent our childhoods dreaming about growing up and “making something” of ourselves. We dreamed of concrete jungles and corporate power suits – not rattles and spit rags and white picket fences.

For me, I had my first child “on accident”. I mean, yes, we know how it happens and blah blah blah – and I obviously at some point had to weigh my “options” (which for me meant raise it or adoption), and I “decided” to raise him.

But that wasn’t the same as the day a little gremlin started pecking at my brain saying “maybe it’s time to have another one.” As in… get pregnant… have baby… willfully bring another person into this world to take care of… on purpose.

My first thought was “who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my head?” I began reading the labels on my tylenol a little more carefully, sure I would find something that would explain sudden hallucinations and voices that made no sense. Something, anything, because surely this wasn’t ME… not the me I had finally begun to accept.

That’s the other thing. Growing up a female who doesn’t want kids you get to wear all kinds of fun labels – all of which hint at the fact that there is something “wrong” with you. You walk around feeling like you’re missing a crucial gene or something, as if perhaps by some kind of genetic mutation you were more man than woman. It takes a certain amount of personal growth to get to a place where you say “you know what, fuck it, that’s just how I am” and really, truly start to be OK with that.

I’ll be honest, in order to get to that point sometimes you find yourself tearing down those “other” women – the ones who “want nothing more than to be a mother”, the ones who “define themselves by their children”. Yeah, I know, we certainly play our fair share in the Mommy Wars, often in a desperate attempt to justify our own feelings of wrongness.

And then… again… after all of that, some of us all of a sudden find ourselves with these feelings. We find ourselves in jeopardy of becoming one of “those” women that we’ve fought so hard to distance ourselves from, to justify ourselves against. We find ourselves with husbands who either go “what the fuck?!?!” or “well, good, it’s about time, let’s get to it” – when we’re still not quite sure what the hell we’re supposed to do with these feelings ourselves.

Feelings… yeah, that’s how they start anyway. As odd feelings, passing thoughts that seem to appear out of nowhere like that cousin you haven’t seen since the third grade who suddenly needs a place to crash. And you look at them and try to brush them off as they grow into a constant train of thought in your own mind. A big, steel, speeding train that threatens to derail right smack in the middle of your life.

What will having kids do to me? What will happen to my career? My marriage? My free time? My LIFE? I’ve never wanted kids… what if I’m not very good at it? How do I know if this is some idle fantasy or a real sign that it’s time? What if I have kids and find out that I was wrong and I’m stuck with them? What if I don’t… and I never know…

Does it seem strange that I had these thoughts after I’d already had one? I suppose. But I think I had always figured motherhood was something I had taken on, survived, an obligation I had stepped up to the best I could because that was the situation I found myself in. I seriously doubted I was as good a mother as the stay at home mom who had played house since she could walk. Deciding, choosing… that was just different. We were no longer talking about me, the husband, and our son. We were talking about a real full fledged Family with a capital F.

Of course, now I know how the story ends. I know that those fleeting thoughts were proof that I really did have some kind of biological clock, or something. Proof that at least some part of me was made for mothering. I know I did the right thing on deciding to have my daughter. Now.

But even still, my heart goes out to those women who find themselves at the beginning of the path. Or rather, at the crossroad, the intersection of “Life is Good and Will Only Get Better” and “Who the fuck KNOWS what’s down this road… but come on, give it a shot”. I remember the uncertainty and the fear and the self doubt. And I wish I could show them the end and promise them that it will all be OK.

I wish I could tell their husband’s that this is not “normal woman stuff” for them. That this is unexpected and left field – like if these previously straight men woke up one day going “maybe I’ll try dick” – or, you know, something. I wish their husband’s knew that the financial worries and planning are just not that big of a freaking deal when we’re still trying to sort out what we want, who this makes us, what we will or won’t allow ourselves to hope for…

I will say this. If or when those women do decide to become mothers, many of them will still find themselves in The Land Of The Wrong And The Guilty. Having a baby does not make all of us want to chuck the day job and stay home. That need for fulfillment through work and success and whatever else makes you feel accomplished doesn’t go away with the belly fat (and I’m just not ready to break it to them that the belly fat stays too). And believe me when I tell you that you will often find yourself caught between two worlds.

But, you figure it out. You find YOUR balance. You get to a point, eventually, where once again you say “fuck it, this is how I am, and I’m OK with it”. And if WHO you are someday means you’re a mom, just know that Motherhood allows for the same grey area and broad spectrum of experience as the rest of Womanhood. And eventually, you’ll find your niche.

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  1. Chase says:

    Ugh. I hated the idea of having kids for most of my life. Couldn't even FATHOM ever wanting one.

    Until I started seriously seeing my guy. Now we're talking about how long after we get married should we wait to have our first child. And I'm almost giddy at the thought of being a parent with him.

    It's surreal.

  2. AmyD says:

    You’ve made some really good points here. I always assumed I would have children. Never really considered if I wanted them, just was sort of raised that that is what you did – grow up, get married, have children.

    You know the rest of my story. It happened sooner than I had planned and certainly not in the ideal way… and yeah, I drink a little and I’m not the perfect mommy (not due to the drinking, I think the drinking actually improves my performance), but in the end, it’s all been for the best.

    :heartbeat:

  3. pnbzmom says:

    I never thought I wanted kids. Actually I never thought about whether I did or did not want kids. I just simply didn't think about it at all. Then after being with my ex for 4 years I got pregnant. Not by choice or planning mind you! I freaked out a little. Well a lot. I was 21 and still pretty self absorbed. But once she was here (she is now 13)everything just kind of fell into place. And I am glad. Because I'm not sure I would have ever "planned" or "decided" to have a child. Sowhat started out as an accident turned into the best possible thing at least for me.

  4. Thank you! I too am one of those women and I am just starting out on my path. I have often wondered 'what is wrong with me'… this was wonderful and encouraging to read!

  5. Miss Britt says:

    ADW: same with me – although sometimes I feel guilty because people say "ohhhh, don't you want another one". Nope, no thank you, one boy, one girl, that'll do. And yes, I will still work. And do other stuff that is not in anyway mom related.

    And sometimes… well… it makes me feel like a bad mom.

    Melanie Marie: awwwwww – thank you! Gosh, this is one of the best comments I've ever gotten.

    Good luck Chica, you'll figure it out. I don't think anyone who actually stops and thinks about it CAN make the wrong decision here.

    debkitty: heh. Well, it will go down…

    But even now, weighing about 25 lbs less than I did before I got pregnant with the first… it's just not six pack ab anymore.

    C'est la vie.

  6. NYCWD says:

    I wish their husband’s knew that the financial worries and planning are just not that big of a freaking deal when we’re still trying to sort out what we want, who this makes us, what we will or won’t allow ourselves to hope for…

    This is so very true… more than I think we realize on many different levels.

    Money can always be made.

    Children… not so easy…

  7. Avitable says:

    I definitely think it’s something that men really can’t understand, even those men who want to be a father.

    Now I wonder if I can go see a watchmaker or something and have someone’s biological clock unplugged . . .

  8. Miss Britt says:

    AmyD: Every good mom I know drinks at least a LITTLE. :martini:

    Chase: ohhhhh you’re on of “those” – the ultimate sign of love is creating a life together kind of thing, right?

    Man, you guys will have cute ass kids too.

    Avitable: I’m bringing my little clock breakers down in about a week.

    pnbzmom: I always called my son my “miracle baby”. If it hadn’t been for him “showing up” I didn’t know if I would have ever decided to have kids – and I would have never known what I was missing.

  9. ADW says:

    I NEVER wanted to have kids – EVER. Now I have two and no more will come after, but I am satisfied and I love them. BUT – I still work and have a career and all of the other shit too. And if people don’t like it, they can suck it.

  10. debkitty says:

    I wasn’t one of those women who played house, but I did always want children and a career. Fortunately I had my career first and now I don’t particularly feel any need to rush back to it right away.

    I think this is so well written and so well put. I planned on my child, but I didn’t expect the mommy instinct to be such a surprise….

    What the hell do you mean the belly fat stays????? I am doing all this working out for nothing? Is THAT what you are telling me?? How dare you!!!!!

  11. hellohahanarf says:

    when i was young all i wanted was the white picket fence, the kids and baking cookies for when my husband came home. then after dating the wrong guy for too long i realized that i liked having a career and being single. i realized that i probably wouldn’t be the best mom. while i love kids, i also really, really love to give them back after a few hours.

    i’ve managed to avoid marriage 3 times and have no intention on changing my outlook on the institution of marriage. i just can’t see “forever” the way i once did. perhaps it is all the trade shows i have worked where i see most men at their worst. maybe i’m jaded. but maybe not because i still love to know that there are folks like you who enjoy motherhood and can keep their marriages strong while raising kids. it ain’t easy and i am thankful you are happy, that you have found your balance.

  12. J. says:

    What an awesome post Britt.
    I always thought I had all the time in the world to ‘someday’ have a kid.
    Then, like you, I had an ‘accident’ when I was 25.
    After I had her, I wondered why in the world I’d waited so long.

    I recently told a gf, you realize once you have a child that life up until that point was just ‘playing’. Life takes on a whole different meaning once they’re there. It’s an entirely different world from that point on.

  13. Had I not gotten pregnant at 15, I probably would not have had any kids. My son is my world now though. He is VERY important to me, but I do not have the “feeling” to have anymore. Personally, one is more than enough.

  14. Joefish says:

    All my dreams of the concrete jungle are completely unrelated to parenthood.

  15. Mom says:

    To joefish…SEE? For men I don’t think it’s ever a case of concrete jungle/brilliant career/wonderful adverntures in life OR children. It’s always both. Women, though, for whatever reason always go through the both.

    I didn’t ever want to be a mom and I also didn’t ever want to be a secretary – I wanted to HAVE a secretary – or a cadre of them.

    And yet I am a mom – and a grandma. And I have had adventures and secretaries and a number of very cool careers.

    But the kids have definitely been the best, the most adventure. Not that they are sweet little cherubs – they aren’t. But they are bright, passionate, interesting people that I really enjoy knowing and being around.

  16. Cheri says:

    Wow..who knew other people felt this way too! I wouldn’t have had children if I hadn’t gotten preggers by “accident” at 26. And I have no desire to have another! And I love more than I ever thought I could love another person and I’m so happy to have him. Still – more children – no freak’n way!

  17. I just had a terrifying thought after reading Mom’s comment. What happens if you do have the kids and you hate them? This is beyond the ‘will I like being a mom’ thought. What if you just have crappy kids? Is it possible to hate your own children? Would that make me a bad mom? :what:

  18. Miss Britt says:

    J.: it is definitely one of those things you can’t really explain – you just know it once it happens to you.

    themuttprincess: and that is so awesome for you that you know that and can be cool with that. Seriously.

    NYCWD: very true, my friend… very true.

    Joefish: are yours related to not having to mow like my husband’s?

    Mom: wait, what happened to you getting knocked up on purpose because you wanted me so badly?!?! :what:

    Cheri: I think you’d be surprised how many people there are allll along the spectrum.

    Melanie Marie: well, I think you hope for the best. And if that doesn’t work, when people ask you about your kid, you lie your ass off. :D

  19. Erica AP says:

    I’m just coming to terms with the fact that I don’t want kids. Everyone thinks I’m crazy but I’m learning to accept that I’m different. I think it’s great when my friends have kids and do the whole family thing, but I just can’t see myself doing it. And you seem like a wonderful Mom and don’t forget funny as hell! :)

  20. Joefish says:

    Why the hell would I want to mow your husband? Is this about the gay sex again?

  21. Miss Britt says:

    Erica AP: well, the Internet seems to be chock full of women who don’t want kids, so you’re definitely not alone there.

    Joefish:
    :crazy:

  22. ginamonster says:

    I swore I'd never had them. Helped raise my siblings. I was done. And I had other issues too. Then the one I wanted to keep ended it because he wanted kids and I didn't. So I went to counseling. and dealt with my issues. I don't know if I will have kids, but I have accepted that it might be neat. with the right person. I guess time will tell.It's nice to know there are other little girls out there who dream of corporate highrises instead to rugrats. I always wanted the white picket fence. and NYCWD? for some people, making babies is REALLY easy…Easier than making money, I think.

  23. Sybil Law says:

    Perfectly posted. You summed up nicely how I felt pre-kid, and apre-kid. :)

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