Some days are easier than others.
The days where I don’t sit in the teachers’ lounge, the days I don’t go to church, the days I don’t talk to my friends. Sounds odd doesn’t it? Shouldn’t those be my encouraging encounters?
Most days I am bombarded with social media reminding me of all the happy parents: the mamas and the papas. I giggle at the photos, share them with my husband, even repost some of them.
Let’s roll back the clock before I get ahead of myself.
I am the second of three kids that eventually became four. My youngest brother joined our family when I was 12 years old. He easily fit right in seeing that he had the eyes to match his sisters and the red hair like his brother. There was no denying he was our flesh and blood. I immediately took to him.
My dad was a carpenter and he constantly remodeled any home we moved into. With the addition to the family, we obviously needed to up-size our home. It was a simple choice – hold tools for dad or entertain the baby. Hmmm. He quickly became my best friend, my companion, my baby brother. I knew his first words, witnessed his first steps, and shared his adventures as he discovered this new world.
When he turned 7 the world stopped on a dime… I felt my chest cave in when I heard my parents explain what Type-1 diabetes meant (the kind that never goes away, the kind you can’t prevent, the kind that requires shots, counting, shots, blood tests, shots, finger pricks, shots, counting carbs, and shots). I was 19 and I was grieving just as much as my parents. That’s when I realized I had assumed the role of another parent to my brother. He was more my child than my sibling.
Rachel – it means “motherly”, it means “gentle like a little lamb”. These were the encouraging statements my parents would tell me growing up as they watched me interact with him. Statements that were meant to build me up, I’m sure.
May 18th, 2014 – My 26th birthday. The age my mother was when she had her first child. The age that pushes me closer to thirty. An even number that craves balance and stability.
July 4th, 2014 – Our 5 year wedding anniversary. My favorite number. Halfway to a decade of marriage.
582,212 – The number of times I’ve been asked if I have kids, the number of times I’ve been asked WHEN I’ll have kids (as if I could control it), the number of times people assume I have kids because I am married, own a house, or teach middle schoolers.
Zero – The number of people that think before they ask.
What if I had ovarian cancer? …How would you expect me to respond?
What if my husband and I were getting a divorce? …What would you say then?
What if he couldn’t father children? …Would you be embarrassed?
What if I was sexually abused? …Would you change the subject?
What if I had a miscarriage? …Would you try to comfort me?
What if we wanted to adopt? …Would you try to mask your surprise?
What if we didn’t want children at all…?
As I sit in the staff lounge, mingle in church, interact at family gatherings, or browse social media, I am bombarded with the BORING details of “motherhood”. The pregnancy selfies, the creatively unique announcements, the baby showers, the nursery inaugurations, the hospital bed pictures, the breast feeding debates, the diaper sizes, the sleep patterns, the developmental stages…
Honestly? Will those things matter in 5 years? Is this why children are born? So women can role play? If this is motherhood, then I don’t want to be a mother.
I am the outcast. I know nothing of being in labor, giving birth, losing sleep, or tending to the needs of an infant. I just got to watch my brother for a few hours. What do I know about children? Does this discredit me from contributing to these conversations?
I am the outsider. I don’t have cute baby things to buy or post online. I’ve bought enough baby shower gifts to create two nurseries of my own. When I go to baby showers I want to crawl under the chairs and play with the toddlers to escape the “mommy mob”.
I am the outlaw. I don’t want to be a mom. I want to raise children. I want to see them run and jump and reach and grow and imagine and create and pretend and learn and try and fail and laugh and play and love. I want to pour my heart and soul into a little miniature mixture of me and my husband and watch it flourish in the Son. In 1 Samuel, Hannah prayed for a son so she could “give him back to God”.
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
I was born to love and be loved. I was born to become a daughter, a sister, a student, a teacher, a follower, a leader, a wife, and – one day – a mother. It’s in my blood. It’s who I am. My heart aches for my students. I’ve taught kids in school who don’t have a mother or a father. My soul cries when I see kids and teens in orphanages or foster care. They have learned to believe they are unwanted. My body craves to be a mother. I long for the days to come where I hear midnight giggles down the hall, I see tiny tops of heads peek over my bedside, I receive surprise tickle attacks.
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. - Psalms 139:13
Through our interactions at church and work, my husband and I are constantly told how we’d “make great parents”. As if we decided against it and should change our minds. Since we were engaged at 19, we have crafted a list of boy names and girl names, names that are clever or carry a legacy. One by one they have been stolen by others around us. We have created house rules that we enforce on our puppy as if he could fill this void. We watch parents and swear we will never be like that. He is my soul mate, my best friend, my favorite. I know he will become a great father and I will become a great mother. These things don’t happen the second a child is born, they are roles we learn about , train for, and practice.
He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Psalm 113: 9
When? Is that really any of your business?
Rachel grew up a pk (pastor’s kid), rebelled for a few years, then fell in love with Christ. She married her high school crush from 7th grade and will be celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary on July 4th. She works as a middle school English teacher who has 134 “kids” of her own. You can often find her running 5k’s, reading trendy young adult novels, or wrestling with her dudley lab, Bogart.