A fellow BMWK writer, friend, and soon to be first time dad posted a question on social media asking people to honestly share their fears about becoming first time parents. I started to respond to the post by listing all of the fears that had plagued me before becoming a parent. However, I decided against it. I didn’t want to scare the crap out of him with my paranoia and I didn’t want to shut down his Facebook timeline with my never-ending saga like post of fears. So instead, I decided to write this blog.
I was like most first time parents in that I did have fears and anxieties to contend with. My fears may have been a bit more irrational than most, because I never ever had a burning desire to have kids. I didn’t have anything against kids. I really liked most of the ones I had encountered. What I liked most about kids was the fact that I could give them back to their parents when my kid-o-meter expired. I just didn’t see myself as full-time parent material.
The Root of My Fear
Allow me to take a moment to explain and put my first time parent fears into context for you. First, as a child, dreams about my future never included a husband, kids, white picket fences, or a mini-van. When I would hear my friends dream out loud about those things, I’d think to myself “Oh how boring, that sounds so lame, or is that all you really want out of life.” I imagined that I would have a fabulous career in a major city (New York, Paris, San Francisco) and be as strong, successful, and powerful as Olivia Pope on Scandal, as ingeniously fashionable as Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, all while being as funny, loyal, and authentic as Joan Clayton from Girlfriends.
Second, babies cost too damn much. I could not fathom having to choose between globetrotting and pre-school tuition, and a stunning pair of stilettos and pampers. I was care-free, independent, and was a proud card carrying member of the, I believe in spoiling myself club. Having to become selfless financially was very unappealing to me.
Third, I grew up during the Atlanta missing and murdered children era. I lived right in the midst of the neighborhoods where little boys would go missing and never return home. I don’t know what was scarier as a kid, knowing that kids were being killed or the looks on parent’s faces as they wondered if their kid was next. One of my elementary school classmate’s brother was a victim. That hit very close to home and resonated deeply with me. It was way too scary to imagine bringing a child into this world, unconditionally loving them, and then having some tragic event abruptly and unexpectedly steal their life like a thief in the night.
I couldn’t understand how any sane adult would want to have children. Little babies were indeed cute, but becoming a parent seemed like a life sentence of endless giving and worry.
So imagine my shock, awe, and surprise when I fell in love with my college sweetheart, married him, and had not only one but two children with him. Somehow, I ended up living that “oh this is so boring” superwife and supermom lifestyle fully equipped with a big house in Norman Rockwell-esque lake community, new cars, private schools, t-ball games, and boy scouts all while whipping up southern style home cooked vittles 6 days a week in my high heels June Cleaver style.
Living in denial with unspoken fears
None of these things were a part of my life’s plan, especially kids, so I was scared out of my mind at the sheer thought of being someone’s mom. I was scared to the point of being in serious denial with my first pregnancy. I couldn’t deny my huge belly, but I tried hard to ignore it, and even had the nerve to be surprised when people noticed it. I had pregnant cravings. I ate pineapples and watermelon like they were going out of style. Heck, I snuck away to Red Lobster and Steak n’ Shake so much the workers knew my order by hard when I came in.
I was so deep in denial, that I thought I was fooling my husband and believed he couldn’t smell the garlic from the cheddar bay biscuits and shrimp scampi or wouldn’t notice the ketchup stains on the seat in my car from the triple cheeseburgers I devoured on the way home. I went to all of my doctor’s visits, took my gigantic prenatal vitamins, and had vicious invasion of the body snatchers type morning sickness. Despite the obvious physical changes and crazy eating habits, I managed to block the reality of my very pregnant experience. I didn’t accept the truth of my reality until I found myself 7 months pregnant and unable to stand up, without assistance, after squatting down to retrieve an item from the bottom shelf in a toy store.
I cried inconsolably as all of my fears released themselves from my purgatory of denial and flooded my mind like a cataclysmic typhoon. Fear surged, panic spread, and thoughts raced through my mind at the speed of light. What if I dropped the baby and broke it, didn’t feed it enough or too much, left it somewhere, didn’t protect it from crazy people, didn’t have good parenting skills, made too many mistakes, or didn’t nurture and love it enough?