Long before I ever became pregnant, I harbored a secret fear deep within: I worried that if I chose to become a mother, I wouldn’t be a very good one.
The thing is, I was never very “good” with kids. I have always valued children, but not necessarily enjoyed being around them. There are some women that just seem to be natural born mothers. As little girls, they tenderly care for their dolls, swaddling them up in blankets and pushing them around in miniature strollers. They help their mothers care for younger siblings, and when they are old enough, they earn spending money as babysitters.
I had a lot of interests as a child, but babysitting was never one of them. I loved animals and took great care of the pets in our home, even getting up throughout the night with puppies that would cry like babies at ungodly hours. But when it came to children, I was awkward and uncomfortable interacting with them. I was quiet and shy, and kids were loud and boisterous. I was serious and kids were silly.
When I met the man who would become my husband, one of the first things I noticed about him was how much he enjoyed children. He was a natural with them, making funny faces at toddlers in grocery lines, twirling his nieces and nephews around in the air while they roared with laughter. I loved this quality about him and was maybe a little bit jealous, too.
On our wedding day, I remember a woman grabbing my arm and whispering to me, “I hope you plan on having lots of kids, because he is so good with them.” I felt a pang of shame, knowing that it was unlikely that I would want a large family.
Then, after three years of wedded bliss, I began to notice something … babies. I noticed them everywhere I went and I literally became hungry to have one of my own. My fear that I may not be a good mother didn’t go away, but I knew deep down that I would love a child fiercely enough to learn how to be good at taking care of one.
The road to motherhood wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) made getting pregnant difficult, and once I was pregnant, I was plagued by horrendous morning sickness. The first three months with my new baby were challenging as well due to colic, but behind all of that I was grateful and very much in love.
Being with my baby wasn’t like being around other babies, holding him was natural; not awkward. Swaddling him, singing to him, nursing him … I enjoyed it all much more than I thought was possible.
I am now the mother of three sons and I can honestly say that I enjoy being around them (at least, most of the time). They make me laugh, teach me profound truths about myself and the world, and make my heart burst with love.
Being their mother feels instinctive and I find that I am now more comfortable around other children as well.
I’m still not a “natural” with children the way my husband is. I don’t think I’m ever going to be the “cool mom of the neighborhood” that all the kids feel connected to, but I’m OK with that.
My boys have a sweet habit of telling me that I am “the best mom.” And while I know that is far from the truth, I am trying my best and have learned that I don’t have to be a “natural” mother to be a good one.