November 19, 2008
I’m going to be a mother. And I’m terrified.
I’m not maternal. Nothing biological has ever ticked. I can’t even keep houseplants from dying. The prospect of having in my care a living, breathing child — one who needs to stay that way — is beyond overwhelming.
But it’s going to happen. Despite taking precautions, I soon will have another mouth to feed.
How did this happen? I’ve always been so safe!
What’s worse, and I know this sounds perfectly hideous, is that I’m not over-the-moon excited about this blessed event. In fact, I don’t know if I even want it to happen. Of course I could decide I don’t want it to happen. I do have the choice to say “no” to this whole business. There are ways.
However, after searching my soul, which unfortunately did not result in any epiphanies, I finally looked in the mirror and decided, “What the heck? Other people have kids. So can I.”
Now the challenge is getting comfortable with my decision. I’m not yet. I’m in the “fake it until you make it” stage. I repeat affirmations like: “Not everybody’s life comes to a screeching halt upon arrival of said bundle of joy.” “You will be a good mother.” “This will enrich your life in ways you’ve never thought possible.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
I tell myself this is an opportunity and an adventure and that it will be fun.
Only I’ve started to seriously worry about the financial ramifications of this major life change. Is that ghastly? My god, kids are expensive! I’m supposed to be building wealth for retirement. Instead, what I should be saving is going to go for clothing, food, medical care, not to mention a college education and a car.
Then there’s the all-important list of intangibles to provide: safety, security, love, guidance, inspiration, confidence, encouragement, fortitude — and that’s just for starters.
I wake up in the middle of the night consumed with doubts about setting boundaries, curfews and house rules. All of a sudden I wish I were smarter. Why oh why did I always skip over articles on parenting advice?
I imagine scenarios like broken curfews where I call the police, and the arrival of questionable boyfriends who look like they take drugs. What do I do if she fails a class or when somebody breaks her heart? There’s no Dr. Spock book for the teenage years.
This is insane! I barely know her and she’s already taken over my life — my single-girl, carefree life, where I answer to no one and thoroughly relish living that way.
But I can’t dwell on that. I need to prepare. She’ll be here soon.
I already moved my home office from my really nice guest room into the basement. I had to. I figured if I made her sleep in the basement, Child Protective Services would show up at my door, and that’s usually not good.
The only thing I’m certain of is that I’m going to make an unbelievable amount of mistakes.
But I do know what friends with children mean when they say, “They grow up so fast.”
I wasn’t present when she was born, but when she was 4 years old, I helped her win (I was very proud) the starring role in a national television commercial advertising cheese. At the audition, I had her stand on stage and sing “Hakuna Matata” from “The Lion King.”
If you recall, “Hakuna Matata” means “no worries.”
Maybe I should start singing that song again.
I have absolutely no idea what it will take to care for an 18-year-old who, for extremely sad reasons, simply can no longer live with my sister and brother-in-law.
Gone are the days of being the “cool aunt” who, when visiting twice a year, would slip her cash and listen to gossip about cute boys. It is imperative I now become far more than that. I need to be her ally and her friend, her strength until she develops her own. I need to be her mother — and I have to do a far better job than her biological one.
She’s as torn about this transition as I, but she gave me her permission to write about it. We have to start somewhere.
If only I knew the pitter-patter of little feet I would one day welcome would be made by size 7s that want to borrow my strappy crocodile skyscraper sandals.