It’s yet another Mother’s Day and I am again, not a mother. Day to day I think I’m good. Everyday gets way better and I am definitely more healed than I was before. I can talk about it without getting that pre-cry lump in my throat and for the first time in a long time, a friend of mine shared with me that he and his wife are expecting their first child and I felt sincere happiness for him, not jealousy. I cried when he told me. I think I made him uncomfortable. Sorry. I think the tears came because I was/am genuinely happy for him and I think I caught myself off guard with the fact that I did indeed feel happiness; proof that I am healing.
I really am much better. I feel so much less resentment, less envy and less anger. That is of course unless one more Kardashian gets knocked up. You have to be fucking kidding me with how incredibly unfair that is. When people ask me if I have kids, I no longer hate them to the very core. They’re asking a perfectly normal and socially acceptable question. Even though, lets be honest, if people have kids they make a point to somehow bring it in to conversation. It’s like Vegans. You don’t have to ask, they will tell you. It used to stab me in the heart when people asked me and then linger with me well after the conversation passed. Now I have inner monologues with myself and move on, almost amused. Just yesterday I was in the locker room at Equinox and one of my regular riders was talking to me about the early morning classes I always teach and I said that if I can sleep until 6:00am its like sleeping in. “Just you wait until you have kids.” She said with a smile and an eye roll to indicated she was looking for sympathy. “They’ll wake you up at the same time on the dot every morning whether you’re well rested or not.” Like a scene from a tv show in which the main characters inner thoughts become the narrator I thought “First of all, bitch. I will never have kids but thanks for that reminder but also my cats wake me up at 5am every single day with an aggressive paw to the face whether I am well rested or not soooo…” That is what I thought. What I said was, “I’ll enjoy my alarm clock while I got it then.” With a smile and light hearted giggle. And then it was over. I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t need a moment in the bathroom stall to either hold back or push out tears. I went on with my day and it was a great day. Proof I am getting better.
I have gotten really good at reminding myself of all of the perks of not having children. While on vacation, we sat by the pool sipping margaritas, absorbing the sun and speeding up the sign of wrinkles on our skin while my sister in law had to be on constant alert. Two kids, several pools, a water slide and a lazy river. She could not relax. I took note at how relaxed I was and added that tally to the pros list. Two weeks ago I was with my closest girlfriends in an airbnb in Jersey. It was one of those first warm spring days and as I sat, again drinking and soaking up the rays, (maybe I have a problem)I watched as they each frantically stayed up on their feet constantly tailing their toddlers. When I held my God daughter to take a little ease off her mother it was nice but as soon as she got fussy, I got to give her back. Jessica:1 Motherhood:0. I also have the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want. A random Tuesday and my favorite spin instructor was teaching in Manhattan. Should I drive to the city for one 45 minutes spin class? Yep! Because why not!? Should I fly to Florida for Lauren’s 30th? Should I go to Jamaica for Crystal’s bachelorette party? My credit cards say absolutely not but my lack of children and obligation say heck yeah!
Since September I’ve gone through all five stages of grief. Anger was the longest lasting. That might actually be residually in me for life. Depression and denial kind of went hand in hand. Actually it was more like I was in denial that I was depressed. I’m Jessica, I don’t do depressed. I do cats and exercise and smiles. Big big smiles. But I was in fact, depressed. I’m not anymore but I was and it sucked. I’m not sure which stage it falls under but for a long time I felt like a failure. I live my life inspired by hardworking go-gettem women and wanting to be an example to other women. But how could I be an example? How could I be the best, the baddest, the toughest and strongest if I didn’t have that ultimate badge of honor as a woman; motherhood. I felt resentment toward my best friends that they were better than me because they had children and I did not. That them having children meant that everything I do day to day, which is whole lot, wasn’t as honorable. I work my ass off and yet I had this crazy psycho mentality that nobody saw it as worthy because it could never compare to being a mother. If I’m going to take a deep psychological look at myself, the reason I probably took on all of these jobs and can just never say no to work is because of some deep seeded need to prove to myself that I can in fact, do it all with or without children. I know nothing actually does compare to being a mother, and I never want to take that away from mothers, but what took me some time to realize is that I don’t have to have children to earn an equal amount of respect and I don’t have to have children to be a mother. I am a mother every day. I know you’re probably smirking right now, anticipating my rant about how I am a mother to my cats. They are most definitely my babies and I cannot express in words my love for them but that is not solely what I mean. I arrive to the home of a severely autistic child three days a week. Each day when I arrive, he is crying, partly because he knows I am going to make him work on things that are hard for him but also because his father just took the iPad away. Whatever the reason, my heart longs to make him feel better. He is three years old, he does not speak, he likely never will but I can soothe him just by holding him and singing songs I know he enjoys. I may not be his mother by blood but in that moment, I am a mother.
The last several years I worked with a little boy in the city. I met him when he was just two years old. I watched him and helped him in school and at home until he turned five. It was not hard to fall in love with him from the very first session. His chubby cheeks and gigantic smile engulfed my heart. Whenever he would struggle in school emotionally he would, without hesitation run to me, “Miss Mikel”. In those moments I ached to take away his hurting and holding him until he stopped crying only fueled my love for him. I was only his behavior therapist in school but in particular circumstances, I became his mother.
I could give you a thousand examples of times I have felt deep in my gut how I am a mother. I work with children each day, I have nieces and nephews. My besties are raising babies that call me “Auntie Jessica.” None of these tiny people are mine by blood but if I had to, I would raise them like they were and I already love them as if they were.
This is my third blog on this topic so if you’re new to my posts and you’re wondering why all these dramatics, refer to post “Still Not Knocked Up; it Just Isn’t in the Cards.” In there I write about how I’m not doing all of this for pity. I can not emphasize that enough. I do NOT want pity. I just have to put it out there. Even if nobody reads this, attaching it to the link in my instagram bio is an instant leap into a new level recovery.
Some women are mothers, some women are not and that title doesn’t come from actually bearing children. You may disagree with that, and that is ok but I know I am a mother. I don’t have kids but I am a mother. I am loving, I am (at times) selfless, I am nurturing and none of that will be wasted simply because I can not procreate. To all of the mother’s, I wish you the very best mothers day tomorrow. Especially to my mom, who from across the country and without having spoken to me, knew I was in some ways struggling with this holiday. It’s like the birthday of a lost loved one. The day is a reminder of love lost but it gets better. I am getting better. I AM better. So tomorrow, not only will I celebrate my momma, my best friends, my sisters-in-law, my mother-in-law, my aunts, my cousins etc, I will celebrate how they all taught me how to love unconditionally and discover myself as a mother. I will celebrate myself and how far I’ve come. And maybe, just maybe, Tom will come home with a gift to acknowledge how incredibly well I am raising our fur babies.
Beautifully written, Jess. Fortunate are the children whose lives you have touched and will continue to touch. The value of your mothering is priceless! We wear many hats, at times, as teachers, specialists, behaviorists, support staff etc, and “mother” is one of them. xo