Alright, I’m just going to say it.
I was embarrassed.
As I sighed and rested my head on my husband’s shoulder, I was embarrassed.
We had been married about a year and a half, and I had just started teaching at a private university. Things were going well; we even had free housing on campus while I held the position of “visiting professor.”
I was thinking about applying to a low residency MFA program and completing the degree while teaching. Children weren’t on my radar, and frankly, they never had been.
I was (and am) an independent sort. Instead of dreaming about a big wedding and bassinets full of babies, I dreamed of writing books. I remember leaning up against the cold cinder block wall in the hallway during high school waiting for Chemistry class. And I ached to write a book. Ached. I just wanted to write.
And all throughout college, I still didn’t dream of babies. Truth be told, when I saw someone pushing a stroller, I usually thought to myself “glad it’s not me!”
So yes, my initial reaction when the pregnancy test showed a little plus sign, was embarrassment. Why was I embarrassed? Well, I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to put that into words, but looking back I think it was the crashing of two realities that in my mind could not possibly work together. My own life with my own dreams and goals vs a little life growing inside me. A little life that would become great at bossing me around and determining my schedule. However, amid the embarrassment, I did suddenly understand why I had been so tired. Oh, I was so tired the sidewalk looked like a perfectly comfortable spot for a nap. All I needed was a blanket.
I’ve always been hesitant to share some of the thoughts I had when my journey to motherhood began. But then I realized: these thoughts need to be shared. Had someone told me about their struggles into and with motherhood, I might have been a bit more prepared and not felt like I was all alone. I might have felt happy instead of embarrassed. I might not have felt like a terrible mother for thinking the things I did.
I might have been able to find the truth and hold on to it.
I might have been able to find the joy.
However, the truths about motherhood are sometimes hard to learn “on the job”. Mothers are usually too busy and exasperated to pause and ask “what great thing should I be learning from this moment”. At least, I was.
And although I have a mother who should be sainted by the Catholic Church, I still didn’t truly understand motherhood. The motherhood truths that I have stumbled upon after 7 long and messy years of being a mom, are something I might, just maybe, could have learned long before having kids.
Or at least, I like to think so.