I am a non-mother. I have been told many times that “you’re lucky you never had to go through childbirth.” Yes, real mothers have gone through the pains of labour. I did not. I have never birthed a child. I have never had a C-section. According to my mother, my life is wanting and incomplete because I have never had a child of my own. After years of hearing this definitive and repetitive chorus of hers, I have decided that I am a mother. Perhaps, not called “mom” or “mama”, but the functions I have performed would absolutely qualify me as being a mothering type of woman.
My love of children started when I was young. Coming from a large family there were always children younger than me running around. In various photos you could find me holding one of the youngsters. I LOVED holding babies. I loved playing games with them and making them laugh. This was not contained to just my family. At school recess time, I would head over to where the kindergarten children were and play with the kids there. I became something of a hero to these little tots. Kids my own age would play baseball or soccer (I was never good at sports). Then there were the mean kids who just played pranks on people. I didn’t want to be part of THAT group. So, hanging out with blissful people (children) was way more fun!
As I got older I started planning for the day that I would have my own children. I started buying Disney movies. I collected children’s books. I was going to have lots of children because all my life I just wanted to be a mommy. It would be easier buying everything while I had a disposable income and living at home. I got mommy practice after my sister had kids. I got to change them, feed them, bathe them, dress them, even potty training was on the agenda. Yes, I was getting my mom-training hours in. I would be the best mom ever. As time passed I realized that you could be planning for your life to go one way and then suddenly there is a fork in the road with a tough decision. You can decide with your head or with your heart.
When Wiseguy and I first started hanging out I knew he had three children. He was not planning on having anymore. I had always wanted many children and now I had a decision to make at this fork in my life road. Should I choose to be with the man of my dreams who made me laugh everyday? The man who understood me like no one else had before? A man who loved to dance and enjoyed living everyday of his life? A man who adored his children and wanted someone who could share his life as well as theirs? The other path was to leave this wonderful man behind, find someone else who would want to have children. Would I find someone who intrigued and entertained me as much as Wiseguy? Was my happiness more important than the prospect of a life with children? What if I couldn’t have children? As you already know, I followed my heart. I chose love. I chose Wiseguy and his (now our) children.
The kids did not call me mom. I didn’t want them to. They already had a mother. We were (and are) “Dad and Maryann”. I didn’t need a title. I was an adult female who would do mommy things. I would be there to kiss the boo-boos. I would be there to apply bandaids. I would be there to teach them things. I would play with them. I would guide them. I would advise them. Sure, sometimes I would beat myself up for things I said, but I grew up in the house of “tough love” and sometimes being honest is harder than being kind. The truth hurts, but oftentimes it will get you so angry that you will persevere and move along in life. Sometimes being hard and honest is what true love is about.
I do not accept my mother’s definition of a “mother” to heart. I am not short-changed in life. If anything, I am one of the wealthiest women / moms around. Not only do Wiseguy and I have his/our wonderful children, but we watch (and happily cry) when we watch these youths (now adults) raising their children. They do the same things we do. They parent and worry that they are getting it wrong. They think that maybe they are horrible parents. To them we say: if your child is clothed, fed, and happy then you are an absolutely incredible parent. Parenting is so harshly judged. It is the the most thankless and difficult job to do day in and day out. No rewards. No awards. No praise. No accolades. Parents, be kind to yourself. You are doing a wonderful job! Congratulate yourself on the small things.
As for me, the non-mother who became a grandmother or “Baba” in Croatian, I love and adore these children! Each one has a special talent, gift, personality, and smile that wins me over. I do not compare them to each other because each is unique. They have their own personalities and talents and thoughts. Ok, I’m getting teary-eyed because I am so captivated watching them become their own individual being. There is the honour of being able to be their Baba and being able to love them.
As hindsight is 20/20, I can say that by following my heart instead of my head, following love instead of expected behaviour, I chose the right path when I got to my fork in the road. I can also say that, although my bank account doesn’t show any lottery winnings, I am the World’s Wealthiest Baba.