I wasn’t always sure that I wanted kids. My feminist self feared that motherhood would shuffle me off to the sidelines of life. Early in my career, professional success gleamed like a silver bauble on the Christmas tree, and I had no way to comprehend how it might tarnish.
Nor had I any idea, really, what being a mother meant. So when my then-husband and I took the plunge and I gave birth to two sons in my early thirties, I learned. I learned that parenting is unrelenting, giving back only slivers of reward in the first blur of little sleep. That you don’t know if you’re doing it right. That there often isn’t enough of you to go around.
Yes, there were sweet cuddles, flashes of joy, and feeling like a hero when I stepped inside the door to my toddlers’ welcome. For me, the greatest rewards emerged when my children started to become themselves, and I could be in a relationship with those precious and unique boys.
Now I get it. I know why my parents would light up in the presence of my sister, brother, and me. Those years of intensity and challenge forged a bond that is tethered in my core.
My sons’ father was part of the same journey. We divorced when the boys were five and eight. Right then, through hurt, I might have sought to care for them full-time myself. I didn’t, because I knew their dad was important to them— they would suffer without his presence in their lives. And I would be a better mother with time to breathe.
Looking back, I am deeply thankful that we co-parented them to adulthood. The biggest reasons are, of course, the men they have become. Having two loving parents seems to have outweighed the hassles of navigating two homes.
Another reason is their father. Knowing the meaning they bring to my life, I cannot fail to recognize that they do the same for him.