My Heart Is Too Small

4monthcloseupThere are times, mostly first thing in the morning, middle of the night feedings, coming home after a long day, and pretty much any time I see her face, when I am so overwhelmed by my love for my daughter that I can barely breath.

I cannot remember, when I was younger (at any time in my life, actually), thinking about “growing up and having kids”.  I didn’t do that.  I wasn’t one of those people.  I was a babysitter and nanny in high school and college.  I taught swim lessons and was a lifeguard and worked around children a lot. And, I enjoyed working around children.  I had fun with it; I had fun with them. But, there was never a moment when I thought about wanting kids myself.  When my husband and I were first married, we were on the same page about this.  It was odd to recognize this even then, but one day we had a conversation where we both talked about not wanting kids and it felt totally normal, not surprising in the least.  I’m not sure about his “why”, we never really talked about “why”; I just knew that I was OK with our decision to not have children.

Then, several years into our relationship and our marriage, I started to change my mind.  It was a slow process, but these feelings seeped in with tenacity.  I wondered, are these feelings real or is the proverbial “biological clock”?  I didn’t say anything, not to anyone, for some time.  I wasn’t sure.  I just was curiously cognizant about this newly burgeoning desire, by the emotions welling up inside of me in ways that were at once foreign and also comforting to me. Then, one day out of the blue, my husband emailed me (he was deployed at the time) and said something to the effect of, ‘so, I’ve been thinking, we should have kids’.  Um. What?!?

That email changed my whole world.  There was a lot of time, some of it tumultuous, in between that email and when I actually became pregnant and gave birth to our daughter.  There were definitely moments I wavered in my thinking that having a baby was a good idea.  Yet, my doubts were not at this time because I didn’t want kids but more that I wasn’t sure I/we/he was ready.  From the moment of that email, and in every single moment since I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t really think of why I didn’t want children before.  Now since my daughter has been born, I simply cannot imagine my life without her – I cannot imagine my life before I was her mother.   I honor that woman I once was, the one who did not want children. I find her brave in her choice of solitude from children.  I do not question my friends and others who remain on the path of life with no children; I do not think that makes their lives less full or rich or fruitful or meaningful.  I do think it is a very personal choice, when it is able to be a choice, and I am constantly stunned at the fact that my feelings so drastically changed and that I am now a parent.

I love being a mother.  I love being her mama. I do, however, find myself overwhelmed for the amount of love and care I have for her. In my reflections on becoming Charlotte’s mama, sometimes I do not think my heart is big enough to hold all the love I have for this little creature.

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