“You’re so good with her. Do you have kids?”
This question always startles me a bit. Am I old enough to have kids? I always forget. People I went to school with now have 3 and 4 kids, and more than one is on a second marriage. I guess that qualifies me as “old enough”.
“No, I just really like kids. I have the world’s best godson, though.”
“Well, you’ll make a great mother someday.”
This exchange always leaves me feeling . . . something. I’m not sure what. I don’t know if it’s sad, or scared, or guilty, or a combination thereof.
Allow me to ‘splain.
I’ve always loved the wee ones. My favorite toy growing up was a very realistic looking baby doll, and I was always “taking care” of the babies at church . . . no matter if they were mere years younger than me. I also knew pretty early on that I would never have kids of my own.
Genetics are a funny thing. I have a brother with multiple disabilities, caused by a reaction to his childhood vaccinations. I was never immunized because a predisposition to vaccine reactions is often genetic. Once I understood that (as much as anyone ever could understand that), I started to doubt if motherhood was in the cards for me. Over the years, more and more things cropped up in my own genetic makeup that I didn’t want to pass on: depression, anxiety and, of course, eating disorders.
Beyond genetics, fear kicks in.
I’m afraid of what I’d do to a child. I mean, I know what NOT to do, but I’m afraid I’d be so paranoid of doing something wrong that I’d end up doing everything wrong. I’d be so afraid that my child would end up with an eating disorder that I’d either indulge her into obesity or watch her food intake so closely that she’d end up anorexic in retaliation. Out of fear of stunting her emotionally, I’d end up with an uncontrollable, over-dramatic child. I’d be so afraid of her being hurt by others, she’d be an overprotected mess. I can’t risk it.
I’m not good with the unknown. If I can’t be sure that I wouldn’t ruin a child, I can’t risk having one.
I’m almost relieved that my hormones are out of whack. There is very little chance of me carrying a child past the first month, so the choice is somewhat out of my hands. That makes me feel better.
My own children may not be in the cards, but I am quite happy giving all my love to the “other people’s children” in my life. My godson makes me happier than anything. I was there when he was born (birth is an intense experience!), there for the first Christmas morning he was awake for, and I’ll be there for him as long as he needs me. And I know, if he’s crying and I can’t figure out what to do, he’s got a good mother to take care of him. I’ll settle for being a good fairy godmother.