Me and the future father of my children were discussing baby names yesterday for our as yet unconceived alarmingly attractive children that we will be having in the future. I believe we decided on Sean Robert for the first boy, despite my initial discomfort with the name. (You put two and two together.) The conversation resurfaced throughout most of our day together as we walked around the city and I bought shoes (yes, yes I know I didn’t need any more shoes but they were ON SALE) and lingerie (again I know I don’t need anymore lingerie but they were also ON SALE… and PINK!!!) and what started out as a joking conversation quickly got me to thinking. While I am well aware of the fact that these 3 (or was it 4?) children we are supposed to be having will not be coming for many, MANY years to come, or at least until we can determine the least awkward and friendship damaging way to conceive them. (If you know John and I you know why this is an issue.) However, it got me to thinking, what kind of mother would I be?
Now if you were to ask many of my friends, they’d tell you that they couldn’t possibly imagine me with a child. And I can’t blame them because it is my own fault for not really allowing them to see the mothering part of my personality. The truth is that I have always loved kids, always wanted a house full of kids, both biological and adopted. I always felt, for some reason, a strong maternal instinct for everyone in my life, that nurturing thing that most women have that seems to be up at full throttle with me. The instinct has always been there, ever since I can remember. But here is my issue…I’ve never actually BEEN a mother. (Obviously.) And more so than that, I haven’t exactly had the best of examples. Not that my mother was the worst, but she’s not exactly winning any awards or anything that’s for sure. Would I be a good mother? Or will I, quite possibly completely ruin my childrens’ lives subsequently becoming the stuff Lifetime movies and successful psychiatrists are made of? Oh God, if I have kids will they grow up and cut me off and then write a NYT best-seller about what a screwup I was as a parent?
And how does one balance career and family? Like I said, I’d like to have a big family. But my career field isn’t exactly pregnancy/family friendly. Will I have to give up what I love to do? Or will I, in a quest to maintain some semblence of my former self and a life of my own that I am content with, end up neglecting my children to their very capable and overpaid nanny or to their overworked father, and subsequently become one of those parents who gets to know her children through phone calls and pictures and second hand stories of what they are doing? I don’t want that. But I also know the inhumane pull of my ambition. Will I look up in 20 years and have the career I always wanted and yet still be alone?
I used to tell my ex boyfirend all the time that he and his career (and he and his pride..and his stubborness…and his tendency to not allow himself to need people) were going to have a long and happy life together because he was so ambitious and it didn’t leave room for much else (including his relationship with me). But I wonder now, was I projecting? Were those really my own fears manifesting themselves in our relationship? As much as we talked about getting married, having a family, all of those other plans we held for so long, was I really far more distrustful and insecure of it than I let myself believe? I’m not so sure anymore.
I wonder what kind of mother I’d be. I have certain ideas about things that I would do or wouldn’t do, but will they hold up in practice? Or will I just be one of those people on Oprah crying as my children attack me and tell me how I screwed up their lives? I used to not want to have children at all. As a matter of fact, I was so scared that I’d be a bad mother that it was my plan to have my tubes tied at 18. I don’t remember exactly what changed my mind. But was I right back then that it wasn’t in my best interest to have kids just as I don’t know anymore if I really believe in marriages that last? Because in all honesty, I’ve never seen either of them work. Or was I just letting my fear of failure dictate the things I wanted? I don’t know yet. But its certainly making me less excited about the future arrival of Sean Robert.