It’s not wrong for me to tell you that having my son was the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Sure, it sounds hokey and cliché, but it’s the truth. He’s almost three years old, and I cringe thinking about what life would be like if I had made a very different decision in the summer of 2014.
But I also cringe when I think about what I’m going to admit right now. Here goes:
I am embarrassed by how I became a mother. And I hate that I feel that way.
Our first date was in early May. I was pregnant by June.
My son’s father and I met in January 2014 through mutual friends. I had only spoken to him on a few occasions, but I must say I thought he was very good-looking. Anytime I saw him, I would stare at him – trying not to get caught. When he did catch me staring, it turns out that’s because he was turning his head to stare at me, too. We started dating in early May 2014, as he was coming out of a previous relationship. Things progressed quickly, and guess what? Within six weeks of dating, something felt off. I peed on a stick and, yep – that sucker had double lines. I was pregnant.
Did I mention we were both in recovery at the time?
Those mutual friends I mentioned were friends from Alcoholics Anonymous. The same month we met was the same month I stopped drinking and got sober. I walked into an AA meeting and changed everything about my life. I got a sponsor and went to a ton of meetings. And I met him. I did everything they tell you not to do in your first year of sobriety: dated within the program, dated too soon after I got sober, and had to make a major life change.
And did I mention I had just started a new job, no, a new career six months earlier?
I had left a 15 year career in television news to work in public affairs at a well-known public institution. It was a very good job, but I was brand new in the field and within my surroundings. How do you tell your boss you’re pregnant when you’re still figuring out where the bathrooms are?
So here I was. Pregnant. Newly sober. At 36 years old. In a brand new relationship with my baby’s father. Barely figuring out my new job. All of these questions started going through my mind:
- When had I become this irresponsible and impulsive person?
- What about the grad school programs I was researching?
- Do I keep it? Terminate? Where can someone even go to do that in this area?
- How could I let myself be stupid enough to get pregnant?
It’s really the last question that mortified me. Three and a half years later, it still does.
We’ve all been taught about reproduction since we put the little seed in the styrofoam cup. It’s not like college-educated, professional women don’t know how these things work. Well, there was now a little seed growing in MY styrofoam cup and it’s like I didn’t pay attention. I was suddenly ‘THAT GIRL’ who most young women spend their whole life trying to avoid. To put it bluntly, I got knocked up by someone I barely knew, and I was absolutely not prepared to raise a kid.
Those are all the things I’m still embarrassed about. The irresponsibility, mainly. It still makes me feel less than. Sometimes it’s as though his dad and I have failed him because we can’t give him the same relationship foundation that many of my friends can give their children. We don’t have that because I still see us as irresponsible, and I do things to gloss over it. When my son’s friends’ parents say “what does your husband do again?” I am way too embarrassed to tell them we’re not married. When the neighbors ask me how we met, I’m way too embarrassed to tell them we met in recovery so I just say “church” (which is technically acceptable because we did attend the same church at the time).
Of course, the reality is that I have nothing to be embarrassed about. The reality is that I clearly was prepared to raise a child because we are doing it. Our son is smart, sweet, funny, and just a great kid to be around. I’m so proud of who he is; I’m just not really proud of how my path to motherhood began, and I’m even less proud of how I feel about it now.
Here’s to hoping I’ll grow out of that by the time my son outgrows Caillou.