How did I decide to become a mother? I was talking with a client about her long-term goals and whether her behaviors would lead to those goals. It dawned on me that if I were to look at my own long-term goals of eventually becoming a mom to more than one kid, what I was doing wasn’t really matching up either. I decided to take my own advice, to take chances and not just follow my fear.
Before having my son, I thought it would be easier to balance everything. I hadn’t understood that baby time is completely all consuming. I remember right after he was born the insane amount of time that I spent nursing him — just sitting in one place not doing anything but nursing — and how initially that was really difficult because I was used to getting things done. I hadn’t anticipated that. I hadn’t also anticipated how much being with him would be so rewarding, like having a good friend. I didn’t understand that he would be more than just a baby but also this relationship that I value so much.
How have I changed? I don’t feel the same pressure to do as well with my academics in order to make sure that I become a tenured professor. I feel content with this other side of my life. I realize that following these more personal goals have an incredible value, too. I find myself enjoying the moment more.
As a therapist, I sometimes struggle when encouraging my clients to take big risks. I think my taking the risk to have a child at this point in my studies and seeing what a positive thing it has been will make me more willing to encourage my clients to take their own risks instead of worrying that if they fail, I’m a terrible therapist.
Teaching parenting classes, I have a lot more credibility now. I have a much better understanding of just how difficult it is to figure out a new baby. I also feel really fortunate. I’ve worked with adolescent moms and women in substance abuse treatment. I see how much easier my life is with husband and a supportive job.
I’m also more comfortable not knowing what the future will bring. I’m going to prioritize my family more than I thought I was going to and I’m proud of that.
As for my relationship with my husband, it’s amazing to watch another person fall in love with someone you love so much. I’ve seen a kinder part of him and I feel like the amount that both of us care for each other really shows up at 2:00 in the morning when we’re both completely exhausted and Leon’s getting fussy and neither of us wants to get up and both of us say, “Oh, well, I’ll do it.” We have lots of those moments where I see his kindness towards me or our child. That’s been really wonderful.
When Leon was three weeks old, we found out that my mom had breast cancer. I value my time with my mom more. It looks like everything’s going to be okay but for awhile, there was a real possibility that I would lose her. That was by far the hardest part of having Leon — loving someone new so much and at the same time being so incredibly scared and sad about my mom. It made me really appreciate that I had made the decision to have Leon now, that I had some time when she and Leon were on the earth at the same time.
I have thought more about the gift that it is to raise a child while you still have a mom. Making the decision to have a kid at 30 when most people in my position would have their first child at 36 or 38, hopefully I’ll get another six or eight more years with both of those people in my life.
Advice? I would say follow what you want in life. If you want to start a family, don’t get caught up in all the things that might be difficult about it. I had a lot of anxiety about the future. Having Leon, I’m now more able to enjoy the moment. Don’t be afraid of what a child will bring into your life because it will work. You’ll find a way to make it work.