Usually I write my mommy blog posts on tidbits or reflections on how motherhood has changed me - for better or worse, or updates on things we're doing or enjoying as a family. Today I'm sharing a different perspective thanks to a book club assignment. This month the Silicon Valley Moms Blog network read This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper which chronicles one doozy of a week for a man who discovers his father's death, reconciles with his siblings, and works through his estranged wife's yearlong affair while facing impending fatherhood. Despite the tragic outline of the book, it was actually filled with humor and a lifetime of family insights. A couple lines in this book hit home for me, but one of the most memorable was this quick excerpted exchange:
"Having kids changes everything."
"Not having kids changes everything too."
The first was said by a new mother. The second line was the reply by the main character surmising that the loss of a pregnancy may have caused the end of his marriage.
Huh. Expectations are such double-edged swords. In the whole scheme of things it's having expectations that opens us up to be let down. If we don't expect anything, then we can't be disappointed or angry when things don't go as we envisioned. When you expect that you'll have children, and you have them, do you really know what to expect? The sleep deprivation, the worries in the back of your mind, the love, the pride and at times the embarrassment . . . you can never truly be prepared for what parenthood brings to your life - and its rarely ever what you expect. On the flipside, when you expect that you'll have children - and you don't - it can affect your perspective as well. Whether you're envious of others with children, or playing the blame game with your partner, or despairing over this one area of your life that you have no control over, or throwing yourself into other areas of your life and pretending that it wasn't that important to you to begin with; the act of not having children (when you intended to) frames your views and decisions just as much as having them. I've never looked back at my life to think about how it'd be different if Li'l Boo hadn't joined our family, but I have spent the past years wanting more children and not having them.
Having my son changed my life. But I never think about the changes I've made as a result of having him. What I spend some free time contemplating is the lack of children since. When I think about the fact that I agreed to move so many times recently, that I've worked part-time from home while I've wanted to be a full-time out of home worker, I take exception - not with my son - but with the fact that my hubby and I haven't had more children yet to justify my decisions. I've sacrificed myself - who I was and who I dreamed of being - for something that hasn't even come to fruition. Not having another child has changed me more in my mind than having one.
My frame of mind has been to "dismiss" my mom friends' envious remarks about my ability to travel, or head into NYC often, or dine out with my son at a whim. They have multiple children and it's generally difficult, or too expensive to do these things alone with their infants or toddlers in tow. I don't have to deal with those issues. I only have one to look after and he's potty-trained and capable of following directions, and getting on the subway or train or airplane and even hailing a cab. Even before he could manage those things, I had a free hand or two to run after or grab him or lead him along. Would I have traveled and shown my son as much if I had a second or third child with me all the time? No, I likely wouldn't. So there's one positive thing for my son and me as a result of us not having more children yet . . .
I enjoyed reading the book, and encourage you to read what other moms have reflected on as they read This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper by reading the recap and links to other posts on SVMoms starting on Tuesday, October 13th.