This post is part of The Week of Understanding, which has already taught me a lot about putting myself in someone else's shoes.
When I was fourteen, I realized I didn't want to be a mother. I had a summer "mother's helper" kind of job in which I cared for two young children, and much as I loved them, I was very happy to turn them over to their mother at night. In college, I remember my friend Fran sprawled out studying with he, with her head on my stomach, exclaiming "I have never heard a more barren womb!" My career and lifestyle — lots of long and irregular hours, nightly events, a house filled with hazards, world travel — were in no way child-oriented. We had a lot of friends who were childless by choice, and many more whom, though I enjoyed being with their kids, I felt that same relief at the end of the night.
And then, all in a breath, my life changed. I was no longer at the demanding job that had defined my life for the last decade, my marriage ended, and most of all, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Though at that time I did not actively decide I wanted to be a mother, I certainly mourned the exclusion of it from my life, because at that time that door seemed very firmly closed.
Two years later, another major change. I was married again, I had two stepsons who I loved dearly, and on Christmas Day, my mother passed away. With us both turning 40 later that year, we took a deep breath and thought "Why not?" And almost at that exact some moment of that exhalation of hope, our daughter was conceived.
So now I'm at that other side of motherhood. Some things are the same, and some are very different. I'm in another demanding job, which I love, but it has flexibility and it has to stop when my daughter needs me, and for both my clients and me, that's ok. We travel, perhaps not as spontaneously or exotically as before, but travelling with her seems to mean more, too. I'm already planning the Big Trips, and even the ones like Disneyworld. We go out less, but as I put it "We don't go out for as many fun things, but every day is immeasurably more fun." I have to say that the morning Princess Dance Party beats the vast majority of the Ironic Hipster Events I've been to in my lifetime. And so, for a choice that seemed to perhaps offer me less, I am given more and more each day.