I knew I was going to marry my husband the moment I met him. Maybe it was love at first sight or maybe it was just a strong gut feeling. Either way, I just knew. After several years of dating, we both began to verbalize our desires to see our serious relationship through to marriage. We loved each other, and while we are incredibly different people, we shared similar viewpoints and beliefs on everything from spirituality and politics to dog ownership (namely, that our home would never be without one). But there was one particular point we couldn't quite seem to agree on — not even as we took our vows. My husband and I didn't agree on children.
My husband has always wanted children. He's an incredibly affectionate man who comes from a loving, supportive household. He wanted to start a family with me and — being 10 years my senior — he didn't want to wait too long after the wedding. I, on the other hand, was dead set against having children for as long as I could remember. I did not grow up around young children, I never babysat, and my one day spent as an elementary school substitute teacher was my last one for a reason. Honestly? I didn't really enjoy being around children. I didn't believe myself to have "maternal instincts." And, frankly, I was much too focused on my career to think about rearing children. I was the first woman in my family to graduate from college and was convinced that family planning would throw a huge wrench in my career planning.
I'd be lying if I said our opposing viewpoints on children didn't start to come to a head after our wedding. It did. The subject was brought up frequently and I — who still hadn't traveled outside the country, who was currently feeling trapped in a dead-end job, who didn't know the first thing about pregnancy or babies — was feeling overwhelmed. It wasn't always easy. We argued. We both endured feelings of disappointment. But we did our best to listen to one another and continued to talk through the subject. My husband, knowing that I had a strong desire to travel, booked a trip for the two of us to visit Scotland and England. He encouraged me to continue writing during a time when I was very much on the verge of calling it quits. He helped me foster the side of myself I was afraid of losing should we decide to pursue parenthood.
We continued to keep the lines of communication open. Instead of focusing on the newborn days that so easily came to mind when we talked about starting a family, we started expanding our vision. We asked ourselves, what will our life look like in five years if we have children? What will it look like if we don't? We continued to think bigger, each of us imagining both scenarios and how they would look and feel 10, 20, and 30 years down the road. I realized that while I wasn't necessarily eager to change diapers or sacrifice my sleep, I was admittedly excited over the idea of one day having older children. People who I could converse with, share traditions with, and — ultimately — love. I began to think of children not as a burden, but rather an opportunity to grow the network of love and support my husband and I had established with our commitment to one another.
Fifteen months after our wedding, I found myself pregnant with our first child. Initially, I was excited. But as the reality of the situation continued to grow as steadily as my protruding abdomen, I got anxious and, at times, perhaps even depressed. I suffered through a very difficult pregnancy and often wondered if I had made the right decision. Throughout this difficult time, my husband was always at my side. He could see the toll the pregnancy was taking on my mind and body, and, to this day, I credit his enduring support for having made our relationship stronger than it had ever been before. But the days were long and difficult. And more than once, I found myself crying, asking the universe, what if I'm not a good mother?
We never used ultimatums, and we never pushed the other to change their mind.
As it turns out, I now believe motherhood was always in the cards for me. The moment my son was born, I knew I could never again imagine a world without him in it. Being a mother has brought me insurmountable joy and opened my heart to a love so deep I would have once thought it impossible. Less than two years following our son's arrival, my husband and I are blessed to now be expecting our second child. I also have a job I adore and am able to freelance write in my free time. I'm pained to think of my younger self who was so scared that motherhood would be a hindrance. The reality is, fear almost prevented me from experiencing my greatest joy and finding my true self: a woman capable of having both a career and a family.
I'm thankful that my husband and I pursued our relationship in spite of our opposing views on parenthood. We never used ultimatums, and we never pushed the other to change their mind. Instead, we used open communication and a desire to truly understand one another to build a life that, perhaps, neither of us could have ever truly imagined. It was never about choosing one side or the other, but rather working together to discover and manifest the life we were meant to have. My husband, son, and unborn child are more than just my entire world — they are my universe, and my greatest motivators for achieving all that I was once afraid of losing.