Are You Too Selfish To Be A Mother?
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“Ruined love, when it is built anew, grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.” – Shakespeare via @Persia_Lawson
Once Upon A Time, I had a little white pony called Sprocket.
She really belonged to my friend Salena, but when she outgrew Sprocket, Salena and her parents kindly passed her on to me.
Sprocket was a little shit much of the time.
In fact, I ended up in hospital with broken bones on about four or five occasions as a result of that pony.
But BOY OH BOY OH BOY, how I adored her.
It didn't matter how many times she'd chuck me off at the most inconvenient of times (usually when Salena and I were out riding in a deserted wood in the middle of Richmond Park in the era pre-mobile phones - remember that dinosaur age?)
Still, I rose and shone at 6 o’clock every Saturday morning so I could muck out her shitty stable, wipe all the muck off her dappled-white coat and get her all sparkly and shiny for another ride in the park (which would likely end up with either Salena's mum or my own having to place a piss pan under my bum, while I lay prostrate on a stretcher in the middle of one of Kingston Hospital’s busier corridors).
But I didn't mind, because Sprocket was a unicorn to me - my noble-less steed, my Pegasus with golden wings.
And I loved her.
Every now and then, miracle upon miracles - somewhere between the broken bones and the tears - we managed to win a rosette at a horse show or gymkhana.
“We did it!” I’d whisper into Sprocket’s ear as I threw my arms around her in the stable afterwards.
Such moments made all the hard bits worth it.
On the surface level – and this may sound trite and laughable to mothers of human beings - I imagine my experience with Sprocket will have been good preparation for having a baby in many ways.
Babies, like mischievous little ponies, will take absolutely everything you have to give (rather thanklessly, might I add), shit all over themselves and you repeatedly, and hospitalise the both of you on more than one occasion.
But regardless, there you'll still be each day, little grooming box in hand ready for another six (FIVE) in-the-morning start because somehow, SOME (how?!), the love you have for them far outweighs the brutal assault they wage on your body, your freedom and your bank balance.
Or, so I'm told.
On a deeper level, though, my recent recollections of Sprocket have led me to think about whether motherhood’s really for me.
Thing is, unlike most of my friends, I never really felt a desire to have a child; always felt I was missing that mumma-gene that seemed so pronounced and present in others.
Growing up in a house surrounded by active drug addiction, I learned how to protect and prioritise myself – often at the expense of those around me.
I built walls to keep others out, but they ended up locking me in - to some very harmful beliefs about myself.
One being that I was far too selfish to ever be a mother.
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
As my peers and I move into our thirties and motherhood is no longer something we can just push to the dark recesses of our mind until the next decade of our life (da fuck did the time go), we’re now being called to confront two of womankind’s most important questions:
a) Do I want to – and b) am I capable… of being someone’s mother?
I think the reason I’ve always avoided these questions is because if I was really honest, a) was a yes and b) was a… can I phone a friend/ let you know in a year or two?
I’m not sure that’s enough.
Thinking back to Sprocket – and having moved in with the man that I believe is the future father of my metaphorical child (ren) - the answer to that second question has slowly started to announce itself to me, quite unexpectedly, of its own accord.
It has said:
“Dear one, you have been capable of loving and caring for something other than yourself in your life. It’s just that it happened to be horse, not human. And that still counts.”
I hope that still counts.
The truth is, I felt safer giving my love to something that may well break my bones, but would never be able to break my heart.
I’ve broken hearts; I’ve been heartbroken. And though I’m not yet one, it’s plain to see that in becoming a mother, you risk both breaking and being broken.
Shakespeare once wrote:
Ruined love, when it is built anew,
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.
Perhaps breaking isn’t so bad, then; perhaps all children will break their parent’s hearts at some point, and all parent’s will break their children’s hearts, at some point.
Because to birth is painful, and to be born is painful.
But it’s how we become alive.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU:
Are you afraid of motherhood and everything that comes with it? How do you deal with feeling you might not be good enough or able to handle it?
And if you’re a mother – what have you learned about yourself through having a child?
Let me know in the comments – I’d truly love to learn from your personal insights :)
All my love,