I've never felt more relieved in my life to not be a mom. There I said. I promised you honesty! The Internet might explode more from me saying this than our current administration committing treason. But you know. Priorities.
The weird thing is: I always figured I'd become a mom. While at the same time doing everything I could to avoid it. How's that for ambivalence.
I see now that I figured I'd become a mom because that's just what women in my family, in our culture, do. Also, I'm really good with kids. Which is in large part because I started raising them while I was still a kid myself.
By the time I was six years old, I had two younger siblings and two younger cousins that lived across the street. By the time I was eleven, there were two more cousins for a total of six younger kids I helped care for. I literally have no memory from my childhood where I was not mothering children.
Years ago, I had a meal with some Jewish women who grew up in a really large family in Brooklyn. The two sisters were the oldest of nine kids. They were very clear about not wanting kids. That was the first time I connected the dots before between my ambivalence and my childhood.
I finally got it.
We'd already changed a million diapers, held a baby while it screamed for hours, cleaned puke from the cracks of a small bed.
Sure, of course, we also know the milky soft brush of a baby's head against our cheek. And the joy of a newly walking toddler falling into our arms after first steps. Or the giggles of a child as they tell a story that is so incredibly un-funny it becomes hysterical.
And it's all beautiful. The good, the bad, the ugly.
We so badly want everything to have only good when we're young. We want everything, dare I say? Perfect.
But the reality is that life is full of all things. Motherhood is full of all things. Not being a mother is full of all things.
All I know now is this: there is no "right" way to do anything.
There is no shame in not being a mother.
There is no shame in being a constantly cranky mother.
There is no shame in being glad to not be a mother.
There is no shame for sometimes wishing we weren't a mother.
Life is hard.
Whether we have kids or don't have kids: life is hard.
In our culture, we're told over and over again what we need to "accomplish" in order to be a "successful" person. Marriage. Children. Money. House. Check. Check. Check the boxes, quick, quick QUICK before we're outpaced by our peers!!!!!!
That's not to negate the very real urge and desire to couple and raise offspring.
I'm just saying that handling societal pressures can sometimes feel more daunting than coping with the very strong and very primal urges of our body.
I want to share a version of this narrative that isn't often shared out loud, let alone publicly:
Now that I don't have any baby-making equipment, am three years into menopause and *happily hurtling toward my 46th birthday, I feel liberated.
Yep. I said that too. I. FEEL. LIBERATED. The pressure is OFF. I get to just be ME. That damn heavy biological clock around my neck that kept getting tighter and tighter, threatening to choke me until I couldn't breathe, is now gone.
And it feels glorious.
We're so indoctrinated with the importance of motherhood and the fear of becoming a dried up crone but now...I call bullshit on all of it.
My life is still important even if no one calls me "mommy." My contribution to this planet is still worth SOMETHING even if I don't have someone giving me cards on Mother's Day. My presence in this world is still just as important as my peers who are parents.
All that fear from transitioning from fertile young woman to aging egg-less woman is gone now.
I did it. I survived it. And the truth is that I'm pretty fucking happy about it now. Now, there's a whole BUNCH of stuff I'm not too happy about in my life. But that's not one of them.
I just want a different conversation around motherhood, menopause, and aging because the old one is outdated. Tired. Antiquated.
We live so long now that we have to find ways to celebrate the second half of our lives. Make peace with whatever happened in the first half. Decide what our worth is based on something other than anthropological labels. Learn to love whatever life hands us.
What? Love what life hands us? I'm not saying I'm awesome at it. But I see how important it is for our state of mind. Eating the same thing every day is very, very hard. But the more I resist it, the worse I feel.
Ok, maybe not loving it. Mmmmm...let's settle on accepting it. Accepting what life hands us. Whether it's more kids than we wanted. Or less kids than we wanted. Or no kids at all. Whatever it is.
Accepting what is. There, now I've co-opted the core tenets of Buddhism in my Mother's Day Post. I think that's a wrap.
In all seriousness, I just want it to be okay to say these words out loud: I'm glad to not be a mom. It's that simple. And not just because I didn't pass on my horrible genes or have to worry about them when I'm unwell. But because I think my life is better as a non-mom. I'm not ashamed to admit it.
I'm glad I have the time to fight for all the moms, kids, families out there that don't have the energy or time to do it. I'm glad I have the energy to spoil my nieces and nephews. I'm also glad I get to spend hours reading uninterrupted. I'm also glad to be in a position now to say it's ok over here! On the non-mom side!
In the end, whatever we're doing is okay. No matter whether we're a stay-at-home mom driving around a dirty mini van. Or, a single, overworked career woman with no food in the fridge. Or, a harried stepmom hoping to get it right.
Or someone like me. Still a child-less, non-married woman adjusting to menopause and all that it encompasses.
Because it's all ok. WE are all ok. We're better than ok. We're amazing no matter what labels are attached to our person. No matter what Hallmark tries to tell us.
We all have to take it easier on ourselves and know that our path isn't going to be just like everyone else's.
This is one of the lessons I've learned.
And for that, I'm grateful. Happy Mother's Day.
*happily because it means another year that I'm alive