During my second pregnancy I went through a period of high anxiety. “Oh my GOD, what have I done?! I can’t believe I’m pregnant! Am I ready to do this all over again? I’m not that great of a mom to the one I already have and now I gotta prove myself to TWO?! I shouldn’t have had that third drink. God, I’m already broke enough as it is!!!” and so on and so on. The really scary thing was that I thought I was the only one who went through these periods of extreme anxiety and self doubt.
Thankfully, I found a group of preggo mamas on http://www.babycenter.com and I found out that I wasn’t alone. I suppose that because of our anonymity, we were more open and honest with one another about our feelings. More honest and open than we would ever dare to be around our closest friends and family. It seemed like every mom in the June 2009 Birth Club went through periods where she was literally losing her shit. This was most common with preggos who already had a child. We already have firsthand knowledge of how rough motherhood can be, yet we get – okay put – ourselves in situations to do it all over again, like some psychopaths. Sleepless nights? Yes please! Feeling unappreciated and often unloved? Oooh, that sounds yummy! Having your name forever changed from that oh-so-unique name your hippie/ghetto/drunk parents gave you to “Mommy/Mama/ Mom/Ma”? YES – give it to me NOW!!! By the way, I can totally understand why some parents let their kids call them by their name. Mom is so common, so bland, and at times so nerve-grating. But guess what my kids call me? Yeah, anyway…
But we do it again. And for some, again, and again, and again. And it’s not like we don’t have options. Condoms are free. Sometimes the pill is too. All kinds of preventable methods exist. And if those don’t work, there are other options. You know what I’m talking about. And you know what? I’ll be honest with you all; I considered it. Hell, I even made an appointment. I am a firm believer in a woman’s right to choose what goes on, inside, through and to her body. But I couldn’t do it. I got all the way up there, fought my way through the “Save the zygote” bible-thumping Anti-Choicers and made it inside the front doors. But I couldn’t even put my name on the check-in list. So I cried all the way home, still pregnant and even more confused.
Over the next 7 ½ months I went through ups and downs, excited then scared. Euphoric then nihilistic. So in an attempt to boost my spirits, I reached out to my friends, to get some motivation, to help myself understand why I decided to become a parent again. I got some interesting answers, as varied as the crazy-ass people I consider my friends. But one thing that I noticed was a common theme of learning. As a parent you are taught SO much, especially about yourself. Some parents choose not to listen or look at what their children are (indirectly) showing them, but there are so many learning opportunities parents receive. And I think that one of the most important things we learn is unselfishness and selflessness. They are not the same thing. Some people have one or the other, or both and one is greater than the other in that individual. I am one of the most selfish people I know. I will give a homeless man the last dollar in my pocket, but I hate to share my ice cream, and I love to go shopping, just for me. So I know I haven’t quite reached selflessness.
And when I say selflessness I don’t mean completely losing your identity and independence to your role as a parent. I mean understanding that you are part of a bigger picture. It’s about more than you. You are not Beyoncé and the rest of the world is Kelly and Michelle. It’s bigger than you will ever be able to conceive, and you base your actions on that. Now, you don’t have to be a parent to grasp this reality. There are millions of people who “get it” and have never and will never bring a child into this world or raise one. Hell, I think more people should go that route. But for some of us, maybe it’s the only way we can get it. Through our struggle to be the best parents we can be; we try our best to keep one more kid off the streets or keep their adult visits to the therapist to a minimum. Through this we change ourselves, and we help change the world. And not everyone will get it. There are some obvious examples of bad parenting everywhere you look. But the balance exists. If you look harder, it’s there. And you can find yourself in it.
So when I go through my panic modes – and yes, I still do – I try to remind myself that it’s all part of the plan, the bigger picture. I must do my part in making an impact on the world. And that may or may not be made manifest in my children. All my phenomenal, Claire Huxtable-esque, mistake-free parenting may backfire. I may say or do one thing that clicks something in one or both of them that changes the whole game. God forbid, but this is a very possible reality. But something that I say or do will have a positive effect on someone, whether great or minor, and it will lead them to do the same for another, and so on and so on. And it will be without a doubt, a result of my learning process as a parent.
So when I’m going toe-to-toe with my drama queen toddler who is shedding global warming storm sized tears because she cant wear her sandals in the middle of winter, or my teenager engages the silent treatment tactic because I won’t let her spend the entire day playing Tomb of Death or whatever massacre video game her dad bought her, or I’m just dog-fucking tired and it’s only 5pm and I swear I’m one breath away from the nuthouse, I remember the big picture, visualize my weekend, check for my red wine stash and I push through.