Unless they’ve already had kids fresh out of (or in) high school, most of the people I’ve grown up with have stated that they don’t want children, and cannot imagine themselves wanting them in the future.
I am one of these people, although my reasons are quite different than those of most of my 20 something friends.
For a very brief phase in my life, I’d believed wholeheartedly that I wanted to have children. I wanted a beautiful baby boy and a wonderfully quaint family straight out of the “American Dream” E-Z Bake Oven.
Since losing so much control over my own body, my desire to be a mother has diminished.
I grew up under the care of two adults who had immense trouble caring for themselves. They never addressed their health, or mine for that matter. They were irresponsible financially, emotionally, and physically, and this impacted my childhood greatly.
Though I have nothing but love and respect for my parents, I know what sort of damage is done to a child who isn’t nurtured by their parents, and I cannot imagine what it’s like to try and care for a child when it’s a challenge to care for yourself.
These past examples often have me reflecting on my own limitations, past, present, and future.
I reference the spoon theory for a very comprehensible way to understand and explain energy reserves in those of us with chronic illness.
Being chronically ill means I have pick and choose where I spend my energy on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
I often am dragging myself to scoop the litter box for my cats. I can’t always take the trash bags to the dumpster. I regularly leave dishes to pile in the sink because if I spend my energy reserves on cooking, I don’t always have the energy it takes to clean dishes. I sometimes forget to eat because I’m not feeling well. I suffer financially from supporting myself and paying for my doctor’s visits. I can’t always make it through a full day at work. I can’t always leave bed, or stand up, without help.
All of this begs me to ask, how in the world could I care for a human being that I am solely responsible for after it leaves my body?
I’ve been seeing a quote fly around the internet lately that reads something like this, “A child doesn’t need a perfect mom, it needs a happy mom.”
This phrase gets me thinking.
I think about my parents, and how tangible their deep-set sadness has always been.
I think about how different my life would have been if I’d been raised by a truly happy mom.
I then imagine myself, as a mother, and how much it would pain my child to know that “mommy can’t go to the aquarium today because she doesn’t feel well.”
Coming from experience kids just don’t always get that, and if they do, I don’t feel like they should have to.
I don’t want a future spouse to resent me because they have to pick up my parental slack.
I don’t want a child to have wonder why I couldn’t come to their show, their game, their ceremony – or worse, know why I can’t be there, and have to find a way to wrap their minds around the fact that their mom is sick. Or try to find a way to tell their friends.
My child-bearing years are at large – yet, I do not see my opinion changing.
This could be based off fear. Or past pains and traumas. Or just my knowledge of my own limits.
I personally know women who are chronically ill and raising children at the same time, and they absolutely astound me.
I know parents who don’t let their children see their pain, and push themselves to the limit to provide the most normal life possible for their little ones.
Call me selfish, but I don’t believe I’ll be able to set aside my own needs for a tiny human any time soon.
(I am a stellar cat mom, though)
Are you a parent suffering from chronic illness?
If so, I want to hear from you about your experiences in the comments below.