When I was 8 years old, I did something stupid. I said, out loud, “I’ve never broken a bone before.”
Two weeks later, my dog veered to the right in the middle of an un-leashed race home from the end of the block, and I ended up in a cast up to my elbow.
Two years later, on the playground, I said, “I’ve broken my left arm–but not my right.”
Within the month, an unfortunate rush to catch up with the other girl scouts on the way to the campsite bathroom (and a failure to tie my shoes before said rush) resulted in my camping out at the emergency room that night instead.
Needless to say, I’m superstitious. I always knock on wood, say “kenahora,” and do all of the requisite finger-crossing and pinch-of-salt-over-the-shoulder-ing I have to in order to make sure bad things don’t come my way.*
That being said, I did something very stupid.
In high school and college, while I was suffering from the worst side effects of PCOS (or whatever is wrong with my ovaries) and dealing with the other side effects of being the oldest child in a family that included, at one point, 8 children from various marriages, I joked, “I wish my period would go away–I’m never going to have children anyway.”
Today is the day after Mother’s Day, and I’m feeling a little pensive. I’m halfway to 27** and my period went away. There’s a good chance that, if I don’t figure out how to heal myself, I may never have children.
It’s weird that I’ve found myself thinking about this. I don’t want children–not now, anyway. I’m still a child myself. Or so it seems. Which got me thinking:
My mother is strong. Insanely strong. Ridiculously strong. Stronger than a woman should have to be.
And while this definitely applies in the literal sense (to quote Dave Asprey in a recent interview with Kelly Starrett, “My mom can deadlift your mom!”), I mean this in the emotional sense as well.
You see, I’m 26 now, the same age my mother was when she gave birth to me. My mom, who battled her own disordered relationship with food, who dealt with adversity growing up, who altered her dreams to fit the constraints imposed upon her by reality…
I don’t know how she did it. Because I know that, while there are obvious physical restrictions on my ability to procreate, there are also serious emotional road blocks I still need to conquer before I could ever even consider the thought of motherhood.
How she managed to put aside her own life in favor of looking after first mine, then my sister’s and then (much later) my little brother’s is still a mystery to me. My mother is even stronger than she looks, and while I am so so grateful for everything that she gave up to give me and my siblings life, I am also sorry. In some ways, I feel bad that, at 26 (and a half), I’m still (selfishly?) dealing with my own issues in my mother’s house–instead of moving on, growing up, and maybe even becoming a mother someday myself.
I said in a previous post that ED robbed me of 13 years of my life and left me stunted in my damaged inner 13 year old’s mindset. From the social anxiety to the fear of intimacy (both sexual and emotional), I haven’t allowed myself to develop the kinds of relationships that could ever help me feel like the “grown up” woman I’m supposed to be. And while so many of my friends post their engagement/wedding/baby photos on Facebook, I find myself spamming my networks with pictures of my dog and wondering.
What if I had done things differently? If I hadn’t promised myself to ED on the day I hit puberty and had instead learned to play the field? What if I had learned to eat to nourish my body and my mind instead of alternately starving myself/overexercising and following every fad diet and quack fitness protocol the internet could show me? What if I’d been open to exploring the beautiful world of womanhood instead of starving the sex out of me?
I don’t know if I’ll ever be a mother–or even if I’ll ever find that special someone who doesn’t mind sharing the bed when ED comes for a sleepover (or someone who can help me kick ED out of the bedroom once and for all)–but it’s a thought that sometimes haunts me. Amenorrhea, anxiety…they’re more than a health threat.They’re a threat to Mother’s Day.
That said, I am glad that I don’t have children for now. I’m glad that I’m finally in a place where I can–and am willing–to work on me. I’m glad that I’m finally in a place where, if I ever get my period back, I will welcome it as a beautiful, natural, necessary part of me.
If you’ve dealt with reproductive issues, how have you coped with the subtle ringing of the biological clock–even if you’re not ready to reproduce? If you have children, has disordered eating played a part in your relationship with your kids?
Stay hungry (and Happy Mother’s Day),
PS Mom, I’m so grateful for you–your support and your love, through the best and worst, is nothing short of a miracle. I love you. ❤
*I know. It sounds crazy, but combine superstition with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and you have a recipe for disaster.
**May 23 is my half-birthday. Who’s down for an un-birthday party?