Friday, April 25, 2008

Fear

Every once in a while, I become absolutely terrified at the idea of becoming a parent. Last night was one of those nights when I awoke in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, only to then be inexplicably seized by the fear that perhaps I am a fool to want to do this. Perhaps I would be messing up a perfectly good life by having a child. Perhaps I will be a terrible mother. Perhaps it won't at all be what I thought. Perhaps I would be happier without children. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. . .

Admittedly, I have a log of baggage about this topic. I grew up believing that my mother was tied to a marriage that didn't suit her because of a lack of education and thus career options, and because she believed her children were better off growing up in a two parent home, no matter how dysfunctional the primary relationship within it. It is therefore not surprising that I've spent the last 15 years voraciously pursuing my career, and married a man who everyone believed was so utterly different from me that it could never possibly work. . .and yet it does, because we are wildly in love with one another even a decade later. It has taken me the better part of a decade and a half to realize that I am NOT my mother, and that my assumptions about why she stayed in her marriage are also probably not true.

But, even as I've come to recognize that my life, my career and my marriage can be whatever I want them to be, even as I've realized that I am really not my mother, I am still afraid sometimes. I grew up believing that she was trapped by us. It seems unlikely this was true. . .it is far more likely that she was trapped by her own inability to make her own needs known to all of us who loved her. (And I definitely don't have THAT problem!)

Yet the fear persists sometimes that I will feel trapped by my choices, and that I will be a poor parent because of it. Does everyone have secret fears that they will be inadequate as parents, that they might have regrets, that having a family won't be everything they hope, or am I just hopelessly scarred by my own journey into this?

6 comments:

Manda said...

I think you're absolutely sane.  I go through all of the same things...  Every time I have an argument with my husband, I find myself wondering, "What if we had kids?!  What if we split up?  How would that effect my children?"  Or, on a whim, we'll decide to go on a vacation.  Will I miss that when I can't do it?  And we won't even get into my worries about my sex life once we have kids...  The bottom line, I guess, is that I think it's normal to worry.  It's the people who jump headlong into this without a second thought that end up miserable.

JamieD said...

I often worry if 1. We'll be good parents and if 2. We'll still manage to be a good husband and wife to each other. I won't say that my husband doesn't want children, but I definitely want them more. I am so scared that children will change our life so much he will resent me for it but I honestly can't imagine that happening. I go with my gut feeling that we were meant to be parents.

I think all of your thoughts and fears are perfectly reasonable.

Cece said...

I have these thoughts daily. My mother raised me as a single mom. She loved me a lot, but was always talking about all of our money problems and how she spent all of her money on my education. She wasn't the kind of mom to sit down and play games with you - and was certianly not the kind of mom to hug and kiss. I have a brother 12 years older than me is actaully going through bancruptcy because he was so determined to give his kids everything that we couldn't have.

I want to be more optimistic about life with my kids - but I still want them to have the good values that my mother taught me.

I'm also nervous that we are totally used to our DINK lifestyle. We go on trips whenever we want, we go out for dinner, we have a totally different lifestyle than our friends with kids. How will I handle it? I have no idea.

Rachel said...

I found you through the round-up.

As a relatively new mom, there are moments when I wonder what I have gotten myself into. When my son is crying and I can't figure out why is a prime example. The thing is, no one is perfect. If you become a mom, your life will be different but you will do the best at it that you can.

If you don't become a mom, then you already know you have a good life and you will enjoy it.

Michell said...

I'm visiting from Mel's round up. And yes I've had these fears. Fears that I will suck at being a mother, that I won't know what to do, that my kids will hate me for using ART and donor sperm. You name it, I have feared it. It does come and go, I don't always feel this way but when it does hit it scares the crap out of me. I stop and make myself think though about how no situation is perfect, yes I will make mistakes as a parent but I think that overall I will be a good one.

Kim said...

Yep, had those same fears - all three times! Mine went away each time as soon as I laid eyes on the baby! I thought how am I going to do this, how will I know what to do, what if I cannot do it. My mom told me that if I was happy and baby was happy that I was doing it right - no matter what any person or book said! I think it is completely normal!