Before one procreates and adds to the world’s populace, one tends to have preset, romanticized images and expectations of parenthood and all that it brings.
That perfectly baby scent. Sweetly soft cooing and long lashes resting on soft rosy cheeks. Tiny toes and rosebud lips. Baby blues and tiny fingers wrapped around ours.
There are those of us who choose never to do so, and those of us who choose to … many times over. There are those of us who know in their heart of hearts that they are destined for motherhood and motherhood above all else. And there are those of us who believe that women have every right to stand at the helm of the world’s most powerful entities with equal ability to fulfill our desire to guide and mold and nurture the precious lives we’ve borne. There are those of us who want motherhood so desperately, only to be thwarted and to hide the tears when others come to it so easily and others still turn away from the role. For each woman, motherhood and the possibilities and risks that come with it is perhaps one of the most profound decisions we make.
I have two degrees, a highly pedigreed boarding school education and life experiences that are, at turns, shockingly outrageous and unmatched in their poignancy. I’ve watched wizened women carve a life of warmth in frigid extremes, centered on family and hearth. I built a successful career and then rearranged it, sacrificing professional aspirations for personal fulfillment and a deep sense of responsibility. I survived one of the most painful journeys the human heart must endure, and I am stronger and wiser for it.
But nothing has been as terrifying and fulfilling as the role of mother.
It did not come easily to me, a gift I longed for and that I couldn’t deliver that family and friends pressed for it from the moment the ring settled on my finger. I began the process of grieving for the loss of my own fulfillment and all of the possibilities that were wrapped within it.
Then suddenly it all changed and where before I thought I would have none, I had two of everything I had ever dreamed of. And more.
The perfect baby scent. The cooing. The rosebud lips and baby blues and tiny fingers and toes. And sleepless nights. And poop oozing out of diapers and swollen breasts and skinned knees and first butterflies and collections and carefully drawn family portraits Christmas mornings and laughter and tears and sleepy Sunday mornings. Two hearts to mend.
Standing here in the pre-dawn darkness, my naked body shivering in the cold light of the refrigerator, I stare blindly back on the last decade – the happiness the pain and the triumph – and one thing is clear.