Least Likely to Have Kids – How I Became a Good Mother

No one ever expected me to be a mother. I was an only child, with no siblings or cousins to learn child rearing lessons from. I didn’t even attempt babysitting until high school, with some disastrous results.

I was babysitting my boyfriend’s three younger cousins. Their cat had recently had a litter of kittens, and we had specific instructions from his aunt and uncle that the kittens were not to be let loose or played with outside the house. His middle cousin, Amanda, decided she was going to play with her pick of the litter anyway.

After a brief standoff at the front door of their house, a short wrestling match ensued to retrieve the abducted kitten. In the fray, my knee landed on Amanda’s free hand. She screamed and cried for what seemed like hours, although was in reality only 10 minutes. We went to a neighbor’s house, who assured us that her fingers were not broken, and helped to treat her wounds and bruised ego.

At the end of that evening of babysitting, I was all too happy to return the three children back to their parents. Thank goodness those aren’t my kids, I said silently to myself, and later very loudly to my boyfriend. I was happy to be child-free, and had no desire to start my family at any point in the foreseeable future.

Throughout high school, I was a true academic. I held straight A’s, took advance placement classes, and graduated a year early. I was eying some pretty nice colleges, and thought I had my future planned out well. I would attend four years of school, breeze through rather effortlessly, and enjoy the party atmosphere that college brings. I was most ly looking forward to being free from my parents’ house, and to being able to do whatever I wanted.

While I was doing everything I planned in college, fate had different plans for me. Life threw me some difficult curve balls in my freshman year. The worst of these was my aunt’s death. After attending her small funeral, I developed a new outlook on life. I questioned my place in the world, and wondered what I was doing stagnated in four years of dull college work for a piece of paper. In my depression, I dropped out of college, and decided to make my own way into the world. Little did I know that a college education would have been the far more responsible thing to pursue, before I started a family.

Yet I finally did decide to settle down and become a full-fledged adult. I got married, and quickly discovered the challenges such a commitment brings. My husband had always wanted children. As a good wife, who had nothing against the idea, I decided to go for it. As an experience-lover, I wanted to taste everything that life had to offer, and that included motherhood. I became pregnant just three short months after we were married.

My family was shocked. My parents were cautiously optimistic. They made sure that I had thought this out well in advance, because I was notoriously impulsive. After I insisted that they could trust me to be a good mother, I dove headfirst into becoming a responsible parent. I voraciously read every baby book and website I could get my hands on. I ate right, exercised, and followed every instruction to the letter. None of which could prepare me for the day I held my first daughter in my arms.

I now had a tiny human life who was completely dependent on me. Everything I did now had to be filtered through the lens of how it would affect her. I endured jobs I hated and sleepless nights. I went to more doctors’ appointments for her than I ever did in my entire life. I learned the meaning of true worry, through a week-long flu bug and tough economic times.

Then, I found myself pregnant with my second daughter. Another blessing from above, but she was almost too much to handle too soon. I suffered depression throughout my pregnancy with her and postpartum. I doubted myself and my abilities as a provider and as a mother.

Yet I discovered that I was a good mother after all. I learned from my friends, as they went through far worse parenting experiences. I braved shopping trips and doctors with two little ones in tow. I learned the art of taking care of a sick household, myself included. I did all of this while balancing the load of full-time work and my freelance writing.

No one doubts my parenting ability anymore. It was buried deep within me, but it was there. I have two happy and healthy daughters to show for it. Looking into their smiling faces, I could never imagine a future without them.

Albert D. Sant