I realize now, I could have had a second child. The dreams I have of being pregnant are far too frequent and repetitive. The emptiness I feel when I wake up from those dreams is palpable. I can still feel the baby inside, kicking and moving, yearning to be born and enter this world, crying and then smiling, just like his older brother did.
Yes, I could have had a second child. Not for my ex-husband, because he always wanted lots of kids but told me he never wanted any. Not for my son, because everyone said he needed a sibling. Not for anyone else on this planet, because so many believe procreation is the purpose of our presence.
No, I could have had another child because it just came to me this morning that I am killing it as a mother.
I battle daily with depression, yet I have taught my son it’s okay to be and feel sad and there’s nothing wrong with it. I’ve also taught him that in spite of those feelings, we soldier on and we take care of our responsibilities (mine being him, his being school).
I wrestle with body image issues, yet I have shown my boy that I love my body and myself and that no one has any right to say anything negative about me, whether in jest or all seriousness. I do not tolerate disparaging remarks about weight, appearance, or anything else that takes away from how beautiful he is or I am. It will forever be our inner beauty that far outweighs anything that shows up on the outside. If we tend to that inner beauty with kindness and love, then our outsides will reflect that as well, no matter our shape, size, etc.
I grapple with self-confidence, yet I have modeled for my kid that I believe I can do anything I set my mind to. Inside, I worry constantly about everything. He does not see this. He sees a mom who gets up every day and makes things happen, whether it’s breakfast or a published book. There might not always be a wide smile pasted on my face while making the world go around for him, but he knows without a shadow of a doubt that I will keep the earth spinning on its axis. He trusts me.
I thought by the time I reached my forties, things would get a lot easier in life. I believed I would no longer second guess myself or question the decisions I made. I’m not sure who fed me that line of bullshit, but I swallowed it whole and went back for seconds and thirds. Hell, I planted myself at that freakin' buffet. Unfortunately, the anxiety and disquiet of the mind never goes away. What I found I must do is make sure I have a second voice in my head that can be even louder and more forceful. That is the voice I must listen to because not only does it speak to me, but it shouts at my son. My only boy. The one thing in this life I’m most responsible for.
I look and see where I’ve landed in just a scant six months of turmoil and the pride I feel is overwhelming. Not the sort of braggadocio reserved for politicians and bullies (“Look at me! Look at what I did!”). I’m talking about the strength and courage to face the upheaval and devastation of a marriage gone bad without destroying my child in the process. I may still worry about how the hell I’m going to keep this forward momentum going, but that louder voice is growing more forceful with every moment I’m on my own. You can do this, Jen, it hollers. You will always figure it out, it yells. YOU GOT THIS! it screams.
Lots of women are lucky enough to come to this place I’m in and take advantage of the vessel their bodies are. They can have that second child because they’ve finally gained the knowledge, experience, and confidence to bring forth another life. Regrettably, I missed that boat. Had I known how well I could conquer my feelings of being an inadequate mother, I probably would have gone on to have that second baby, hoping for a girl so I could experience both sides of the coin when it came to raising a family.
But I cannot refer to all this as a regret because I am a person who refuses to have regrets. Everything happens for a reason, whether we understand why or not. There is a lesson in every experience, whether we choose to learn or not. Since I cannot go back and change anything that’s already happened, including being young enough to go ahead and have a second baby, all I can do is be grateful knowing I could have done just as good a job with that one as I’m doing with the first one.
May 29, 2017