I didn’t want kids. That may sound harsh for someone who often writes about them, but it’s true. I had a plan for my life and it didn’t include kids and probably not marriage. So of course, I fell in love with a guy who asked me to marry him and I said yes—shocking both of us. Then I shocked both of us again when I got pregnant.
I remember crying. Telling him that our son (for I knew it was a boy) would be on Oprah before he was ten saying I’d ruined his life. I would be a terrible mother. I would be just awful.
Sometimes I still feel that way. My kids assure me this is inaccurate.
The moment my son arrived, it was love at first sight. He wooed all the ladies with his tow blond hair and bright blue eyes. Later, when teeth came in, he had a David Letterman gap between his front teeth that only made him more adorable. He was stocky. It was like lugging around a Thanksgiving butterball in a diaper.
I loved it.
My daughter was planned. She arrived with big blue eyes and grew these long blond ringlets that were nearly heartbreaking in their beauty. She was whip smart from the very beginning, always curious, alert, and interested. I have pictures of her lying on the living room floor staring at a rocking horse like it held the secrets of the Universe.
Honestly, I hadn’t wanted kids.
I was going to be a writer, travel, do anything and everything I wanted without being weighed down. Motherhood was not for me, I said. And yet, somehow these children I had adamantly insisted I didn’t want changed my life.
They made me less self-centered, less self-focused, and somehow more creative.
Few people can make me laugh harder than my kids. And no one can hollow me out with worry and fill me up with love like them.
Somehow, the ridiculous memories are the best. My son, who came down on my daughter’s third birthday and announced, “I know what I want to be when I grow up.”
“A hair cutter man,” he replied.
Somehow, this simple statement sent my blood running cold. How do mothers know? I haven’t a clue. We just do.
I turned to him and said, “What did you do?”
He held up one of his sister’s perfect ringlets.
I called my mother in tears. She laughed so loud I had to pull the phone away from my ear.
Then there was the time my lovely well-behaved elfin daughter went rogue. I chased her down the hallway, yelling, “One! Two!—” She replied, “Freeeeee!” and stuck my stolen blush brush in the toilet and proceeded to “clean it.”
We didn’t have a lot of money. I applied blush with my fingertips for quite a while.
There was the Christmas Eve that both kids got the stomach flu and proceeded to hurl up their guts all over my brand-new monster feet slippers I’d used my birthday money to buy. Treat myself, right? Yeah. Those went right in the trash.
The following morning, I had the stomach bug and they were fine. It wasn’t a fun Christmas for Mom.
And now, here we are in the present. My son: my quick witted, wickedly funny, kind-hearted poet. He has more talent than he knows.
My daughter: remarkably smart, a talented artist who has taken up writing, to boot. To her, every challenge is a chance to prove to herself that she can succeed.
These are two amazing people that I helped create.
As a family, we’ve had our challenges. Losing their father to cancer in 2014 was the hardest, most life-changing time of our lives. I’m so grateful to have these kids. I see their father’s humor, inflections, and mannerisms in them. They’re a constant reminder of him and of the family we built and how much he loved us all.
They’re their own people, mind you. They’ve found and honed their own talents. They’re forging their own lives, but they carry with them the loveliest flickers of their father.
They are not just my children, they’re my friends, my confidants, my rocks. They make me laugh and they make me cry, they amaze me and soothe me. I look at these kids, who were not part of my life plan, and I am so glad that my life didn’t go as I’d plotted. Having the privilege of celebrating Mother’s Day for the last 22 years because of them is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.