I grew up with a mom who loved me and my sister more than anyone could possibly love anyone. She would sacrifice anything for us, whether or not we asked for it. Even into our thirties we remain her reason for living, and she spends most of her mental energy worrying about us. I will never be able to repay her for her selflessness, and though I know I have done what is right for me and don’t regret it, I will always feel guilty that I left her and went to live my own life, thousands of miles away.
I hope that I can love my kids as unconditionally as my mother has done. But my greatest fear in having kids is losing myself in that version of love that dissolves my personhood.
The hormones have led to a lot of unnecessary worry about everything, and this has been one of the hot topics. My mom has told me over and over, “You’ll feel differently about your needs and wants after the baby comes.” And I know I will. But every time my mom asks if I need something, all I want to say is, “I need you to take care of yourself.” Seeing her excited about something, proud of herself, and healthy, would be the greatest gift she could give me.
Love manifests in so many different ways for different people. But for me, I don’t want it to manifest as protecting my child from every uncomfortable feeling. I want my version of love to be strong enough to watch them make painful mistakes and to be there when they need me.
My mom gave me every opportunity she could, from sports to art to music. She made sure I had more than what I needed. But I saw her deny herself so much. I want to give my kids those opportunities, too, but I also hope I can model self-love for my children, to show them what it looks like to be interested in life, what it looks like to grow and take risks. I want to continue doing what feeds my soul, and to encourage them to find their own passions, which may or may not be similar to mine.
I want to raise adults who feel empowered and ready to live their lives for themselves when it is time to leave me. I don’t want them to feel encumbered by me; I don’t want them to feel guilty for living their lives instead of mine. I want them to feel steady in themselves, to trust in what they learned because I trusted them to learn it.
I was so lucky to have the mom I had. I know I’ll make mistakes daily; I just hope I can strike a balance between being a mom and being me.