I was pregnant with my 1st and didn’t know it when I told my husband, “I’m not sure that I want to have babies. Maybe adopt at 40.” I didn’t think I had the mothering gene. We were 29 and 30 doing undergrad at art school. We were late bloomers, who loved adventures. We had been married for 7 years – it hadn’t been easy, but we were best friends with similar outlooks on life. I was finishing up my bachelors getting ready to apply for a masters program in architecture at Yale. It had been my dream since 5th grade to be an architect. I had plans. Adventures were waiting. But then I was pregnant. Before I took the pregnancy test and was thinking that I could be pregnant I was so worried that I didn’t have it in me. I wasn’t mom material, I didn’t feel like the nurturing type. The crazy thing is the moment that test showed a positive sign all of the mothering hormones in the world hit me. I was ecstatic. Over the next 9 months I read every book/article on attachment parenting and home birth. We made no baby registry. All we needed was love and a big enough bed. I walked the stage at my graduation with my newborn in a sling. We were artist, in a city, and broke but I knew that I wanted to stay home.
We struggled over the next several years, but we made it work. Being a mom, as it turns out, was what i was made to do. I poured myself into my son’s life and loved the freedom that I had to do so. When he was 15 months we decided to leave the city and move closer to my family and a warmer climate. In Austin I would go back to work as a florist, put my son in daycare, and my husband would teach himself web design. When my son turned 3 I knew I was ready to have another baby. We immediately got pregnant. We were thrilled to be having a girl. I quit work a couple of weeks before she was born to stay home again. I surprised myself with my reaction to my first pregnancy and the way I loved being a mom, I knew I had this. But after my daughter was born it was a struggle. I felt overwhelmed and spread thin. Right after my daughter was born I launched my clothing design business. I poured myself into developing a beautiful product. When I launched my line at the trade show I had a great reception. But the next 2 years were stressful. I wasn’t being the mom I hoped to be.
One day as I was picking up my son from 1st grade I saw him and realized how fast things were going. I felt like my daughters first 2 years had just flown by and all I had been was a ball of nerves. Since I had become a mom I had thought that one day I would like to homeschool my kids. So I decided now was the time. I would put my business on hold and homeschool my son for 2nd grade. I would slow down and be more present in both of my kids life. It was a great adventure. I loved the pace of our life. I loved spending that time with my kids. I loved the freedom we had. Then again, when my daughter turned 3 I kept wanting a baby. But I was more cautious. I knew I had limits.
Over the next year I was on the fence, off the fence. Spring and summer I wanted a baby, fall and winter I didn’t. Then spring and summer won. I thought I was pregnant (positive pregnancy test), I was super scared and wondered what we had done. I wasn’t ready. Shortly into it, very early maybe 4 1/2 weeks, I probably miscarried. I was relieved. But that night I dreamt I was nursing a baby and woke up and knew that I wanted another baby. Shortly after we got pregnant. This was my first pregnancy that was really tough physically and emotionally. It was a rough 9 months. Homeschooling turned into something opposite of why I chose it. It became a burden, I was monster mom. I called our local school every other week to see if I could register my son. But I felt guilty, I kept trying. After our son was born I knew that he was our last. Finally I convinced my husband to get the “the fix”, I knew I couldn’t go through pregnancy again. Plus I had just turned 40, I was done. Knowing that he was our last baby has really helped me strive to be present in every moment and to not feel overwhelmed. I can honestly say that it has been a sweet, sweet (bittersweet) 16 months. He’s my last baby. The last one I will nurse, the last one I will rock, the last one that will walk… I find myself holding onto each of my children tightly at different times because it moves so fast. I don’t want to regret my limited time with them. As my kids get older I tell them stories of how I’m going to squeeze their kids and hold on tightly to them.
I have found that motherhood is not static. It is not defined by one particular style or philosophy. In my short 10 years as a mother my style and philosophy has shifted and changed. All of my babies were born at home with different midwives, because at each time in my life I was a different mother. I’ve been a stay at home, working, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, cry it out, homeschooling, public schooling, charter schooling, co-op schooling mom. And I know I haven’t finished defining myself. Today I have gone full circle, I am currently in the process of applying for grad school in architecture. It has been my dream, but I’m scared shitless because I don’t yet know how it may affect my journey of motherhood. If I get in I’ll be out when I’m 45. That seems crazy. But what I’ve learned from motherhood is to trust myself, try to give myself grace, listen to my gut, and to love my babies – which sometimes means creating more space and sometimes means holding them tight.