For Want of Being a Mom

I remember, my first year of teaching, meeting a Special Ed teacher who told me that his wife was bipolar and had gone off all of her medications when she’d gotten pregnant. No mental health medications are fully clear for pregnancy or breast feeding. My colleague shared that he’d never been so scared as that year because her depression was so intense – no meds plus hormones – and he’d made his wife swear that they’d have no more children unless they adopted.  
I had a couple of miscarriages in my twenties, but never got pregnant while I was married. I honestly saw this as a blessing because I knew our time was coming to an end. But, in the years following, I felt my biological clock ticking and yearned for a daughter or a son. 
However, the reality was that I felt full & truly cursed by my bipolar. I had years of yoyo’ing moods and emotional instability, jobs fraught with conflict, friendships on the rails, dating disasters… I believed that having a child would be irresponsible because he or she would likely be cursed with bipolarity, too. How could I willfully burden my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren with experiences anything like mine?  
I’ve felt, at times, like I am missing an essential key to womanhood, adulthood. But, not always.  
You see, I think part of my need to teach and work with young people is that “lack.” My students become “my kids.” I am protective, will fight for them – and with them, have high standards for them, even as I know I spoil them, hurt for them when they’re hurt… and am so proud of them. The fact that I still hear from some of them means a great deal to me. I was never an easy teacher, but I was & am passionate, dedicated, and fair.  
People, even kids, sometimes ask me why I don’t have children. It’s part fate and part what I’ve always felt was responsibility. Nowadays, with the way I feel and am, I wish I had the chance… but perhaps there’s a reason I don’t have my own children – I can be surrogate godmother, aunt, mentor to hundreds – and what a blessing that is.

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