The kid and I stopped to see a
friend acquaintance who just had a baby over the weekend. She’s younger than me and this is her second child (her first is four). There was another, much closer friend, visiting already when we arrived. I felt this friend’s judgement as soon as I walked in.
“You an only child?” She asked.
Confused, I replied, “He is.”
“Didn’t break the cycle, Mom?”
I replied, “Oh no, I have a sister, but he’s an only child.”
I’ve heard this response before. The judgement-non-judgement of those who hold disdain for parents of only children. Even when the judger has no children. For a long time, there was part of me that felt ashamed that I haven’t had another child. But then I look back at the last nine years, and I remember the following:
- Pregnancy was full of anxiety for me. Having been born with a birth defect myself, I spent the majority of my baby-growing wondering if the baby would be healthy.
- My birth experience was literally a nightmare. I am not exaggerating. Let’s just say the epidural wore off just in time for the c-section.
- I have chronic depression, so feelings of inadequacy are pretty much standard. Add that I knew nothing about boys … I’ve spent much of motherhood asking my husband, “Is this normal?” Not a huge confidence-builder.
- We miscarried. All our excitement for a second child was shattered when, at my first check-up, things didn’t look good. I had to wait another two weeks (to analyze blood work, allow for changes in the ultrasound) to learn that I was carrying a dead embryo inside me. And I didn’t miscarry naturally. I had to have a D&C.
- When we decided to try again, I chose to go off all my meds. No more sleeping pills or antidepressants. I stopped drinking alcohol. After about two months of this, with a three-year-old testing his boundaries, I came to the realization that I would rather be a good mom to one child than a fractured, damaged, and anxiety-ridden mom of two.
When I reflect on the above, my shame melts away. I just take a deep breath, smile, and try to ignore the judgment. But while I feel no shame, I do feel judged. And I don’t like to feel judged. So I guess I was feeling a little down this evening. Until this:
The Kid: (as I’m taking out my contacts and getting ready for bed). Mommy, are you coming in my room tonight (to read and snuggle)?
The Kid: Yes!!! (then singing, intentionally with the speech impediment) I wuv my Mommy. I wuv my Mommy! (over and over again).
And I realized that I am right where I should be, doing exactly what I should be — and can be — doing. So, in honor of last night’s post, as Taylor Swift so appropriately puts it, “Haters gonna hate hate hate … I’m gonna shake it off shake it off …”