It took me a long time to admit to myself that I wanted to become a mother, let alone others. Even now, after being actively engaged in a community of women that are focused on motherhood and how to get there, I usually talk process, rather than risk getting overly emotional, and making the resultant choking sounds that should be reserved for sea animals, by verbalising the core emotional thrust of my quest.
Examples of statements that have never come out of my mouth include:
- “I just can’t wait to have a baby!”
- “I’ve wanted to be a mum my whole life!”
- “Look how cute that outfit is/awesome that stroller is/ adorable that soft toy is – I can’t wait to be a mum and see my baby in that/on that/cuddling that”
- “Imagine how awesome it’s going to be when we all have kids and X happens”
One of the advantageous things about shifting motherhood high up one’s life to-do list over other equally valid pursuits, such as moving to the Middle East, climbing a huge mountain or striving to finish that PhD on the rare Mexican fire breathing ant colony, for example, is that people very rarely question or challenge your desire to become a parent. It’s accepted broadly that it’s a difficult to pin down/difficult to explain biological urge and if you’re talking about the How (even if it involves conversations about donors and turkey basters), it usually doesn’t have to include the Why. I actually find this a little odd (as I am sure you would if you’ve read The Mask of Motherhood) but for the purposes of this post, and those conversations, it is a good thing. For me.
In line with my no frills communication policy, I have never commercially manifested my goal to mother either. I have not collected artefacts that could give the game away, even if it was only to myself. No hidden, or not so hidden boxes with special little outfits, socks or cuddly toys.
Until last year.
In the period leading up to trying to conceive, I did start to collect baby items. Yes, this was a surprising movement in positioning, but I went with it. A wonderful friend cracked open the gate that would flood by sending me some leggings in honour of the beginning of my baby making adventure. Hoorah! I then started collecting socks and 2nd hand singlets at markets. The dollar started to improve and “Hello!” – Threadless were having a $10 sale on onesies! And I just had to have the beautiful baby quilt from the Etsy seller in Colorado. I piled all of these items on a shelf in a wardrobe – and then snapped up Itti Bitti cloth nappies on sale to round it out.
I didn’t feel overly attached to the items. But they were ‘nice-to-haves’. Just to glance at as I grabbed out the day’s work outfit, or packed away a scarf when I got home on a chilly evening.
This weekend just gone, roughly three months after my last failed attempt at trying to fall pregnant, a box happened to free up (err, I may be still unpacking from my move in June last year) and within minutes, the baby shelf was no more. It wasn’t distressing me or screwing with my thoughts about what my next steps were, but it needed to be done nonetheless. While I am still moving towards parenthood, the avenue I have chosen to hopefully get there does not (often) offer the opportunity to parent an infant. Going directly through to the program designed for adoption (officially called ‘permanent care’) almost always means that you will not be placed with a child under the age of two years old.
I am fully cognisant of this and have obviously decided that parenting an infant isn’t necessarily a critical component to my overall parenting experience, otherwise I would’ve probably continued to try and conceive, but it is still something that I need to process and come to terms with. I also think I’ve straddled the unusual divide of being young enough, but wise enough, to know that anything can happen – parenting an infant may still be in my future. However, in order to open myself up fully to the possibilities and opportunities with adopting from foster care, I also need to recognise and accept the elements of the parenting experience that I will most likely not be privy to on this round and make sure I am reflecting that in my environment. So baby clothes, begone!
Plus, what must my traditionally minded Burmese house cleaner be thinking?!