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Expecting Joy — Part I

Expecting Joy is a series that explores my evolving thoughts on motherhood.
Part II / Part III

There are thoughts that grow like seeds in the mind of a young wife, hidden beneath the dark, safe soil of consciousness and emerging suddenly, like wispy-soft blades of baby grass in spring. One moment you’re tromping along solid, barren, winter ground, and the next, the world is green.

Kids were always in the plan for us — later on, after we’d achieved all the things we dreamed of and basked in calm, blissful freedom for a while. I’ve always admired the born mothers: the women who knew from an early age that they were made to be moms, who kept lists of baby names and craved newborns at just the right time. But that was never me.

I knew I wanted kids eventually. I even knew I wanted to have them young. My own mom had me at 18, and, right or wrong, that age stuck with me every year after I surpassed it. Especially after I got married. I would have a five-year-old by now, I thought, one year into marriage. I can even remember being five and asking my mom how old she was, playing with my Power Rangers doll absentmindedly as she replied, “I’m 23.”

How was this possible? I had now reached an age my middle-school self would’ve definitely considered grown-up, an age I could remember my own parents being, yet I felt no more ready for kids than ever. This idea of impending adulthood, of some great arrival to maturity and selflessness, was quickly revealing itself to be a myth.

When I actually thought about motherhood, I was surprised at how much of it repelled me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about bringing another soul into the world, first of all, or about having something grow inside me like a watermelon with nowhere to go but out. I wasn’t ready to give up spontaneity and solitude and our clean, quiet apartment. I wasn’t ready to lose the spark in my marriage or the tautness in my skin. I wasn’t ready for my creative zeal to dissolve into a routine of diapers and dishes—and I was starting to wonder if I ever would be.

I wasn’t proud of these objections. I wanted to want kids. But every time I took an honest look into my heart, there they were.

As I fretted over all this, I gave myself a loose deadline of one year to sort things out. I didn’t have to decide anything by the end of that year, but I wasn’t allowed to wait passively for clarity to fall out of the sky.

I wanted to sit with these questions, to try them on one by one and follow where they led, even if it was somewhere unexpected.

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