At 24, on a lunch break from work, I peed on a pregnancy test. I knew, I already knew what it would say before I even bought it.
I went home that night, to the apartment that my boyfriend and I shared and told him. So we went and bought another pregnancy test and I peed again and he locked me out of the bathroom while he stared at the clock and two little pink lines and he walked into the hallway and looked at me with a beaming smile and announced what I had known, deep, deep in my heart for weeks.
To the book store I went and I looked, red-faced and embarrassed, through pregnancy books because oh my god what would people think? What if I saw someone that I knew? Nice girls like me didn’t get knocked up at 24 with a boy they had only been dating for 18 months.
Pouring through the pages later that week, I came to the spot that explained the developmental stages of the fetus week by week. Now it seems far away and so, to be honest, I can’t remember if it was week six or week seven, but I read: The baby’s heart has started to beat.
My eyes filled with tears and the relevance of what other people thought fell away and from a very deep and primitive place, I was connected to the little soul inside of me. 18 months together or not, I already knew I was going to marry Steve. We had already had many conversations of babies and weddings and a future together. And so, like that, two became three. And so, like that, I had fallen in love with my baby. My baby. My baby. I was thrilled. I was terrified.
Here we are, eight years later and for the first time, I’ve stepped outside of the home. Sure, I’ve dabbled before. I went back to university a few years ago, the girls have been in childcare outside of our home a few days a week for most of their lives.
I did a lot of soul searching last year, and while that sort of searching definitely kicks up dust that can take a long time to settle, it always came back to my belief that in order to be a good mother, I have to be good to myself. I’ve always known that staying at home with my children full time is not what I want. It’s not me being the best mother I can be, because I become short and cranky and bored and resentful. At the same time, creating a certain balance and energy in our home has been my priority, and so I’ve never been willing to dive into a job that requires that much of my time.
Until now. I gave this a lot of thought and I came to the conclusion that opening a yoga studio was the right thing for us to do. My girls are a little older now, both in school and they enjoy spending time with their sitter, so for one or two hours after school they head to our next door neighbour’s house until my husband or I show up to take them home. There’s tae-kwon do and gymnastics and highland dancing and dinner and baths and reading and snuggles and tears and whining and laughter and lots and lots of hugs and kisses. And there is a big basket of guilt that I have been carrying with me.
It was unexpected. It surprised me. I tell myself that this feeling of guilt doesn’t serve me. I tell myself that just because the picture of their life doesn’t match the picture of my childhood doesn’t make me a bad mother. I tell myself that I am more present in the time I spend with them than I would be if I were at home all day. I tell myself it’s only the beginning and I’ll get used to it, and that they’ll get used to it and yet… it’s still there.
There’s no easy conclusion here. It doesn’t seem like a simple solution will arise (remove x, add y and you will discover z). It feels murky and confusing. It feels like I’m wandering here, alone, and no matter what anyone says, it’s me who has to figure out how to lead my life this way, finding room for everyone and everything that matters to me. It won’t always be confusing; it won’t always feel like I’m choosing between three different things on a To-Do list. Logically, I know this, I really do. But then again, I’ve never been a very logical person.