Or a mother.
Or a Moe.
I figured if I hit that point in my life where the clock was ticking loudly, that we’d see then. But until it was echoing through my ears, I was good. Of all the things I had set out to accomplish in my life, having a child – being a mom – was never one of them. (Just like finding a husband was never one either.) Oh, but I did know one thing. I was NOT going to get pregnant. I would adopt – a decision I made when I was 15 taking a biology class having to watch birthing videos because my teacher Mr Dewitt thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world. I personally think this was his way of discouraging sex or at least encouraging birth control. He made us watch 5 of these videos I think. And to be honest, that was really the last time I even had a thought about having a child – or being a mom. It just was never on my list of must-do things.
They always say there are things you and your fiance should talk about before marriage. Having children is one of those conversations. I confess, we never had that talk. We were so fixated on making sure we didn’t get pregnant that we just never talked about it. It was not a conscious thing. Just sort of happened.
So, imagine my surprise when in the summer 1998, while Garbanzo was doing a temp job to fill a gap of time in between his Master’s degree classes, we had the following conversation:
“I ran into Jan today at work.”
(Jan was his parents’ friend who I loved and for whom he worked.)
“How’s she doing?”
“Good. She asked when we were going to have kids already.”
I rolled my eyes I’m sure, so he continued.
“I told her we’d start thinking about it in a year.”
“And she said, ‘honey, you get a baby by having lots of sex – not by doing a lot of thinking.'”
“You want to have kids?”
“Yeah, I think we’re ready.”
I walked away from this conversation with kind of an “oh shit” realization in my head. He wanted kids. Fuck.
I had no desire to be pregnant – or give birth – or deal with all of that stuff. It was not me. Our lives were busy – we never really talked about it further except for maybe a recap of the last part which is “so you want kids, huh?”. For two people who are great at communicating with each other, we sure were doing a shitty job over this topic. But, we were going to “think about it” in a year. No need to push it, right?
He graduated that fall. Started a new teaching job soon after. And we started squirreling away his checks so we could buy a house. In other words, life moved on. In the back of my mind, his words were being mulled over and over and over again. And I started thinking – you know, I like kids. Babies have never scared me – I have babysat enough babies as a teenager that it’s not that. Maybe one kid. I’m not averse to being mom – it was just never on the list.
Right before the year mark came up, he brought it up again. This time less of a passing remark and more of a question – “are we going to start trying?”
I think it was the first time we actually talked about it. Life changes and life decisions are not his forte – so I was struck by how sure he was about this one – how confident he was about it. My indifference plus his confidence led to the conclusion that we would try. Why not follow the adoption plan? We knew we would not have the money for a few years – no way to really start the process until then. We instead agreed that if we couldn’t get pregnant on our own – there would be absolutely no money or time spent on fertility specialists and/or tests – we would just adopt. Neither one of us were willing to put ourselves through it. And I was not willing to put my body through it. A good decision on my part given how intolerant my body appears to be in terms of synthetic hormones.
Right after we bought our house, we threw away the birth control.
And I was pregnant immediately.
And we rejoiced about our diligence in terms of birth control all these years.
Ironically enough, this news resulted in the following reactions: I was happy – Garbanzo was fucking freaked out. It was hilarious.
I worked at the time with a woman who I dubbed an Earth Mother. She was an IT geek, old Apple programmer (like early days Apple), mom to a kid with pretty good ADHD, wife, gardener, chicken lady, artisan, former hippie and just a sage lady. She said to me one day out of the blue – “Remember, you will get the child you need.”
When DJ was born nine months later, those words echoed in my ears.
As DJ wouldn’t nurse.
As DJ would be up all night screaming.
As DJ would not sleep…..ever.
As DJ pretty much tested my patience – tested my ability to be a mom.
Made me wonder what the fuck I was thinking.
DJ and I never found that rhythm. We had our moments – the moments that kept me from going insane, but this was never a picture of a calm serene mother and child. Oh, hell no.
And all the time, I kept wondering “what did someone think I needed??”
I needed a situation I could only shape but I could not control. I am a control freak when it comes to my life and my work. I am the shaper of my own destiny. Others who got in the way were simply in the way. They could be moved.
But with a child, you have to learn to react. You have to learn how to guide. You have to learn patience. You can try as you might to totally control your child – but it can only work for so long or go so far. You have to be adaptable. You have to be flexible, but you have to know when to stand strong. Know what hills you are willing to die on – and know which ones not to worry about defending. You must find balance.
And it was exactly what I needed.
DJ overcame many of our early issues within the first six months. And during that time, I started realizing she was my kid. Strong-willed. Frustrated by her inability to communicate her needs. Determined. And focused on objectives until accomplished. Every milestone you watch for in the first year, she hit early. Not because she was a protege or better than any other baby, but because it gave her control of her environment. She was a tummy sleeper. She rolled before 3 months because she wanted on her tummy. Once there, she would sleep and was happy. She hated not being mobile, so she crawled early. She took her first steps at almost 10 months old. By a year old, she was running around and climbing. She talked early too – a lot. And with each milestone – with each newly acquired skill – she was happier. And I realized why our first six months were a struggle – and more importantly, I realized she was just as frustrated with them as we were.
That was what I needed.
A child to teach me these thing as only a child could have done.
Ten years ago, I celebrated my first mother’s day wondering if I was cut out to do this.
Today, I can’t imagine my life without them.
I’m glad to be their Moe.