30 Days of Truth: Day Three
Something I need to forgive myself for:
My face feels hot just thinking of the foolhardy decisions I have made in the past.
Overall, I have forgiven myself for the mistakes I have made in antiquity because I cannot change them. It profits me nothing to whine and cry about the choices I made. They are all the sum of the whole person I am now and the hard won lessons I had to learn.
But, there is one thing that keeps me up at night and I have struggled for far too long with forgiving myself.
I need to forgive myself for my attitude towards having a family before we were family. I was so adamant that I did not want to be a wife or a mother and certainly not both. It pains me to type that now, as if the blessed life I have would magically disappear, sinking far into oblivion.
It is true. I did not want to be a mom or a wife. I wanted to practice International Law. I dreamed of the glamorous life of jet setting through Europe, making real changes. I was going to change the world. Armed with my idealistic notions and wily ways, I dove headlong into the pursuit of my childhood dream. I could change the world and I would. There would be no husband, no children standing in the way of my aspirations.
At some point, I deserted this fruitless quest to changing the world. Law school was going to be expensive and I fell head over heels with Mr. Bear. I decided to see where things would go. Instead of going to law school, I entered yet another graduate school to pursue a teaching credential. Little did I know how much I would love it! Previously, I had no desire to teach children. Hell, I did not even like most children. Teaching, however, was my own space, where I could leave an impression on my students. I was doing something meaningful and I was good at it. I was working with high students with special needs and I was making a difference in their lives.
Soon after, Mr. Bear and I were engaged. Master’s degree and teaching credential in hand, I was deeply entrenched in a career that I adored. I was engaged to be married and we were traveling regularly. We took several vacations a year, we were financial secure, and happy. When we married, we continued traveling: the Carribean, Puerto Rico, Sedona, Seattle, Tahiti, Santa Barbara, anywhere we wanted to go. I began training for a marathon in the spring of 2005 and we booked our first European vacation, with a stop in New York. We were going to Paris, so I could show Mr. Bear around (I lived in Paris for a semester during my undergraduate studies and was a French exchange student in high school) and Mr. Bear was going to show me around New York. We would leave a few short weeks after the marathon. We were thrilled.
Life was perfect. I remember thinking—almost too perfect. In my glass half empty pessimism, I was secretly waiting for something to go wrong.
It was less than a month after we booked our New York/Parisian extravaganza that I discovered I was pregnant. Not part of my plan. I was devastated. I could not believe something so terrible could happen to us—to our perfect life. We called our families to share the news. Everyone was happy about it. Everyone was overjoyed, except me. I was angry. How would I finish the marathon training? (I wouldn’t. I would rejoin the following spring and finish my first marathon when my daughter was exactly six months old) Would we have to cancel our pre-paid vacation? (No, we would not) I could not see past my self-absorption.
There was another reason I was less than perky about my circumstance. When I was in my twenties, I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. I was treated and proclaimed cancer free after multiple surgeries, but my cervix was not the same. It was unlikely, so the doctors would say, that I would carry to full term and in their infinite wisdom, advised against ever getting pregnant.
Looking back, I think my anger and resentment about the pregnancy was because I was scared. I was petrified of being pregnant and losing the baby. I was terrified I would be a terrible mom. I was accustomed to being selfish and was supremely satisfied with not having to care for anyone else. Our lives would be forever changed. There was a portion of my heart that would need to open and make room for this baby. What if I could not do it? I was not sure I had the motherhood gene. It was not the ideal state of affairs.
Eventually, I would embrace the idea of being a mother. It was incremental and it took a long time, nonetheless, it happened. I was a high risk pregnancy. I had to fight for proper care from the doctors. That fight to save the life that was growing inside of me brought out the motherly instincts that were always there. I was strongly scolded for ridiculous behavior and coldness by some close friends and family (Which I appreciate so much. Sometimes, you need a good friend or YOUR OWN MOTHER to slap you into shape). I took notice and allowed myself to finally enjoy the perfect and beautiful process. I cried when I saw that first sonogram picture and every one thereafter (One of the few wonderful aspects of a high risk pregnancy—lots of sonogram pictures!). We took that trip to New York and Europe and while it was a stressful one, I came to realize that being a mom was not the end of the world. It was the end of one chapter in life and the start of a new, improved, beautiful life (thus, the birth of this blog).
In retrospect, I cringe when I think about my attitude, my outlook. I wonder why I could not see the happiness that would result. I look at my daughter now and there is always that lingering guilt. It was not that I did not want her. I was terror-striken and immature. Selfish. I often wonder if can ever forgive myself for thinking that being a mother would be a horrendous thing. There have been countless blessings that our little one has brought to our lives and into our home. I acknowledge the shameful attitudes I had before. They do not define my present sentiments. It is requisite that I release myself from the guilt that has bound me for so long. I need to forgive myself.
My life is not the same as it would have been without her and I could not be any happier about that. I am a good mother and have been since that little girl took her first breath outside the womb.