|My mother, long before me|
My mother wasn't willing to be a mum. It simply was not what she wanted out of life.
Her idea of living well was to be free - and a mother is forever (or at least for 16+ years) bound to her children. She felt caged. She didn't embrace the idea of loving, nurturing, supporting these needy beings that had entered her world; our needs were a burden to her, dragging her down, holding her back. I was very self-sufficient and independent by a very young age, because she encouraged that: it meant that our needs suffocated her less.
Because of us, her work life suffered. We sometimes kept her from being able to go to evening events. Or we got sick and she couldn't go to work. Work - teaching music - was what her life and ambition was about. If we wanted love and attention, we needed to enter her world: once I was old enough to learn to play, she took an active interest in me. I was never enthusiastic about the music, but I was desperate for her presence and her approval... perhaps more so than my sister was, who was content being more or less ignored by her and instead forged a stronger relationship with our father.
I have always said I didn't want children. Mostly that's because I was frightened I might react in a similar way to the incessant needs a child hangs onto you with: that I'd flee, need to get away, the way my mum did into her work. I've come a long way from that place; even though at some level the fear is still there, I don't reject children any more. Three reasons for that:
- I have been completely changed on the inside since becoming a Christian and I'm simply not who I was. Her upbringing of me doesn't define me now.
- If God gives us children, I don't have to rely on my own strength, which I know won't be enough. I have access to all the strength I need by leaning into Him. My mother never had that.
- I'm not on my own, and I'm not in an abusive relationship like she was. I have a loving, capable, supportive husband - and with him by my side, I can just begin to imagine motherhood.