Becoming a Mother: To Be, or Not to Be?

Filed under From Marriage to Motherhood on Jul 04 12 by

This column is a chronicle of my journey from marriage into motherhood, and how I came to terms with all the difficulties in between—from the decision of whether parenthood was for me, to the heartbreak of a failed pregnancy, to the upkeep and continuation of a healthy, Godly marriage. Welcome.

I’m a naturally curly haired girl from North Carolina. I have a drawl when I talk to my family or southern friends, or even watch Hart of Dixie. I fought it for a long time, but now I try to embrace it. That’s where I’m from, and I’m proud of it. My husband, who has an accent of his own since he’s Irish, still laughs at me sometimes though, especially if I add in a few syllables to the word “bye.” After I got married, just over seven years ago now, my husband and I moved to Western North Carolina, to a little mountain town called Bryson City. The Blue Ridge Parkway was close by, and the scenery—rivers, hiking trails, and waterfalls—was breathtaking. Now I live in Southern California, at a Christian camp with a heart for inner city kids, and my husband is the outdoor Adventure Director here. I love kids and have a real heart from teenagers, especially. But coming to a decision about whether I wanted my own was another thing altogether.

A few years ago, when I was completing my degree in English Education back in Western North Carolina, I wrote a research paper about why people have children. What drew me to the subject was that I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children. My husband and I had originally thought we both would want to, but then both of us, in our own time, started re-thinking the idea. So me being the perpetual “why”-asker, I wondered why others decided to “take the plunge.” When I first started doing research on the subject, it astounded me that the majority of reasons quoted were, “It just happened,” or “That was the logical next step.” I couldn’t quite grasp this! As I took more and more steps into the adventures of adulthood, the decision whether to have children or not seemed monumental—absolutely and irrevocably life changing. How could anyone embark on this journey without taking serious time for thought? You may say that sometimes, “It just happens,” and rightly so—there’s only so much you can do to prevent it without absolute abstinence. But in general, you have somewhat of a choice or decision in the matter. And that’s what I was battling. Do I want this? There were so many reasons that I felt were selfish ones to have a child. My husband and I felt it was important to us to have a good reason to bring a new life into a world already bursting with children.

Some questions we asked ourselves were trivial, but others were things we really struggled with. Were we willing to give up spontaneous weekend trips or weeknights out? How could we maintain our “outdoorsy” lifestyle with children? Could we do life as we wanted to, with the goals and paths that we saw ourselves fulfilling, with children? Was God’s command to “go forth and multiply” (Genesis) still in effect, or did it have a time limit? And what about all the orphans out there, and the command to take care of them? On the flip side, it seemed quite selfish to have a child just because we wanted one, or to look like the two of us, or to further the family name, or even because we thought it would be fun and couldn’t imagine life without them. What WAS a “good” reason to have a child, or NOT?

I think we often judge quite harshly on whether someone has kids or not. There were so many articles I read that talked about the difference between the words “childless” and “childfree.” One speaks to someone that isn’t fulfilled, and one speaks to someone who is quite happy to be independent. With college and careers taking up so much of our time as women, where is the place for children in our generation? It is nothing short of one of the most personal questions you can ask a women—whether they want to have children or not. And it is something that must be addressed individually by each of us. The word “Mother” can be a blessing or a curse—to both child and woman—if not considered and addressed with the proper respect.

I loved my nieces and nephews (I still do). I also had four siblings, so I knew what a big, loving family could offer. Even as the only child to graduate from college in my family, I still understood the need for a strong family connection and support system. Women who chose to be mothers inspired me; I never once doubted that being a wife and mother was one of the hardest, and also most rewarding, jobs a woman could have. But I also knew that being a student, teacher, lawyer, missionary, or senior executive could be just as gratifying if God gave you the skills and passion for those things. I never felt like you had to choose either being a mother or working; my mother worked part-time my whole childhood, with five kids, and I never once was uncared for or unloved. Being a woman is tough, but we have options for our lives. I have always felt that we should be excited about those options. We should not just take the ones our mothers and grandmothers took, or the ones that society says we should.

With all these things going through our minds, it was all very confusing for my husband and I to decide to be childfree or parents, and the extra research, while interesting, seemed only to befuddle us more. And so it also seemed that the lack of an answer was our answer. If we were not sure that we wanted to have children, or why, then we would not, until we were. We would wait, and continue living our lives as God guided us—working with other people’s children, teaching, exploring new things, digging into the knowledge of what God has to offer in this world—and leave the adventure of parenthood for a possible later date, or another couple altogether.

-To be continued-

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Leigh Eddy Nelson
Leigh is currently a stay-at-home-mom, or SAHM, ministering to the community around her at The Oaks Camp and Conference Center in Lake Hughes, California. Writing has been a passion of hers since she was a little girl, and God has given her a gift to share her experiences in life, love, marriage, and her journey to, and through, motherhood. Follow her journey here every month!