When I was little, I knew I wanted children someday and often dreamed of the kind of mother I'd be. I wanted to be caring, compassionate, kind, and understanding. I wanted to raise children who'd someday change the world and be inclusive and empathetic to those around them. However, because of my own turbulent childhood, I was absolutely terrified of becoming a mother and repeating history. I feared making the same mistakes my parents had, despite my best intentions. It's still something I struggle with, to be honest.
Motherhood, to me, means a lot of different things. It means trusting in your intuition that, whatever it is you deem right, is actually for the best. It's loving unconditionally and forgiving quickly and teaching from lessons learned. These are things I've always struggled with, though, so when I dreamed of having children of my own, I was terrified I'd fail.
My kids are now 5 and 10 years old, but before they came into my life all those years ago, I wasn't sure I could overcome my own misgivings in order to be the mother I dreamed of one day becoming. To this day, I still make mistakes, but what I've learned is that despite those mistakes, my kids are still OK. They trust in me, love me unconditionally, and forgive quickly. It seems they're teaching me more about life than anything I could've ever learned on my own. Here are some of the reasons I was so scared to have them, before I ever knew how wonderful this journey would truly be:
I Was Afraid Of Making Mistakes
I get that parenting is a continuous journey filled with mistakes. There's no set guidelines or instructions for how to mother (unfortunately). Now that I have my own children, I understand my parents that much more. It's hard. We do what we think is best at the time and, if it doesn't turn out, it's a lesson we're supposed to learn so not to repeat it, right?
I became almost catatonic when I thought about having children, because some mistakes made in my childhood are still with me today. I didn't want that to happen to my babies.
I Was Afraid I'd Scar My Future Kids For Life
You never know what sticks with a kid until they're grown. Some things my parents don't quit remember are things that are part of me now. They couldn't have known the ways they'd affect me, which is why I'm terrified of unknowingly affecting my children in a negative way, too.
Would I yell too loudly? Loud enough that they'd fear others who raised their voices in their adult lives? Would they have separation anxiety if I work outside of the home? Would they blame me, decades later, for something I said that I completely forgot about (but they didn't)? It's a lot to think about, and fear.
I Didn't Know If I Could Handle The Responsibilities
Raising children is a lot of work, both emotionally and physically. I love it now, but before I knew what it would feel like to handle so much responsibility on a daily basis, I was afraid I couldn't handle all that comes with being a mother.
My mom had me when she was just 22. Now she openly admits she was too young and immature to be a mother and, honestly, I felt the consequences of that throughout my childhood. I wasn't much older when I had my daughter and I had to make conscious decisions to not repeat the cycle (even when the responsibility felt to be too much).
I Didn't Want Strained Relationships With My Future Kids
It took awhile for my parents and I to get to a good place within our separate relationships. Those relationships have always been strained for multiple reasons and, as I grew into adulthood and moved out of the house, they eventually improved with time. One of my biggest fears was having those kinds of relationships with any of my children.
Because I suffered through postpartum depression (PPD) after I had my daughter, we didn't bond right away, so this fear remained long after she came into the world. Truthfully, the older she gets and the more mistakes I make (not knowing how to navigate pre-puberty), I still fear our relationship might not end up the way I hope it will.
I Didn't Know How To Be A Mom
As I said, I know now my parents did the best they could at the time (just as I do with my own children), but before I had kids I wasn't sure I even knew how to care for little beings. While independent and strong-willed, I barely took care of myself (and that was a lot). How could I put someone else before me at a time I needed to figure out what I wanted out of life, who I was, and who I wanted to be? I figured it out, but before it happened it was daunting to think of raising people well into adulthood when I didn't feel like an adult myself.
I Didn't Think I Deserved To Be A Mother
Because of things I'd gone through in my own life, I didn't believe I even deserved the chance to be a parent. My self-esteem and self-confidence were low and after my post-high-school marriage and divorce, I needed to find my footing before bringing children into the picture. For some reason, I just didn't believe I deserved any kind of happiness and, when I think of children, that's what they are to me: happiness.
I Was Afraid Of Love
The biggest fear I had before kids, was the fear of loving and being loved in return. Love requires vulnerability, sacrifice, and transparency. I'd grown accustomed to building walls high around me to protect my heart from pain. I longed for security, stability, and the unconditional love I knew (and really felt) from some people (like my grandmother), but didn't know I'd find them in my children.
Now, a decade later, parenting still terrifies me and I still don't want to make mistakes. However, if I'd let fear rule my life all those years ago, I wouldn't know how amazing things could be when you're a parent, or know the woman I've grown into today.