Two years after we moved to America, my genius brother debuted on PBS on the Science Bowl (a quiz show about science). The host interviewed him mid-game and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew and he said completely sure of it, “I want to be an astronaut.” (add a really thick Indian accent) Thanks to him, I am now obsessed with quiz shows. He went on to be on It’s Academic in high school and I went on to watch Jeopardy every night on my couch at 7:30 est. There’s something brilliant about getting the right answer before a contestant rings in. Actually, there’s something brilliant about knowing without a doubt the right answer. In the past few years, Neil and I have started a contest: who ever gets the right answer to the Final Jeopardy question is the ultimate genius in the house. For the past few weeks, I have been consistently answering the Final Jeopardy questions correctly–completely to my surprise. It’s thrilling to hear Alex Trebek’s voice say the same answer as you!
Last Friday, a few friends and I sat down for happy hour drinks and snacks at La Porta’s in Alexandria. Being among female thirty-somethings, the conversation inevitably shifted to motherhood and a continuing question in my life: Should I become a mother someday? We discussed the matter at length. One of us had made a clear decision to not have children, but was in the closet about it with certain people in her life, one of us was considering starting to try in the spring, one of us knew she wanted children, and one of us was completely confused and undecided about it all. I’ll let you guess which one was me. While all of us shared our opinions about the matter, we seemed to agree on one thing: having a baby changes one’s life in a way that is impossible to plan for.
Because of our age, the topic of a deadline lingering over our heads came up. “I’m almost thirty, I’m almost thirty-three, I’m thirty-six!” I assured myself and my fellow friends with “we still have time”. Although I said it out aloud, inside I wondered do I really have time and how much? What if I have trouble getting pregnant, if I keep putting off the decision? What if the RA flares during pregnancy? (RA: Rheumatoid Arthritis) What if I live in regret for never having children? The “What if’s” swirled around my head like a smoothie in an electric mixer.
All these questions got me researching famous people who never became mothers. Instantly, I thought of Oprah Winfrey. Not only did she go against our societal norms by not getting married, but also never became a mother. And look at what she became in spite of it all. I began researching why she didn’t become a mom and she stated in a readers’ interview that she has “no regrets at all…[and realizes] how much sacrifice and attention is required to do the job of mothering well”. She also stated that she knows that she wouldn’t be able to accomplish all that she has and be a good mother at the same time. This definitely a question that in on repeat in my mind: will I accomplish my dreams if I become a mom or will my dreams become about my child and is it wrong to want my dreams more than a child? Later in a Mother’s day special article Ms. Winfrey wrote: “I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.” Well, when you put it that who wouldn’t want to be a mother?
My truths about it all, for now, are as follows:
- I agree with Ms. Winfrey.
- I have a zillion fears about it all. Especially, connected to the courage it would take to continuously make wise decisions and allow myself to make mistakes that may affect another being and putting aside my dreams even temporarily.
- I enjoy the relationships I build with my students which makes me think that I may enjoy my own children.
- I also really enjoy having my dreams and selfishly want to work towards them.
In conclusion, it is my theory that there is a very small percentage of women today who can declare without a doubt that they want to experience motherhood. Most of the ones that I know have doubts, like me. Perhaps to move towards motherhood, one must sit with the doubts and the anticipation–each in one hand respectively–and dive in.
As I sit with my doubts and my anticipation, the final scene in Runaway Bride comes to mind. In this scene Julia Roberts says to Richard Gere:”I guarantee that we’ll have tough times. And I guarantee that at some point… one or both of us will want to get out. But I also guarantee… that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.” I often remember this as the most realistic promise ever made in a romantic-comedy. In fact, it was what I had in mind when I wrote my vows. So yes, I may have the correct answers for many Final Jeopardy questions, but in life I’m not sure there’s a correct answer. There’s just an answer. What follows is not my fault; what follows is, instead, up to me to learn how to adapt and to enjoy.
Read Oprah’s Interview here: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Oprah-Gets-Interviewed-by-O-Readers/4#ixzz2JnfMnnHE
Read Oprah’s Mother’s Day Article here: http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Oprah-on-Motherhood#ixzz2JlH1XUUw