Let me first say that I’m not questioning my decision about having my baby girl. But on the other hand, there are days when I think that I must be out of my mind to think that I can do this alone. I already feel like my days are packed from morning to night. Can I really raise a baby on my own?
I don’t live alone; I still have the two boys I took in as teenagers living with me. My “nephews” are now in their early 20s, and while they are technically adults and often a huge help to me, I’m not always sure I’m finished raising them yet. Certainly they have been working hard to help me get ready for the baby, but I still have a house to organize. I work full-time as a high-school English teacher; I also work part-time with autistic and developmentally delayed children as a Behavior Specialist; and I run a household. I’ve decided not to continue my part-time job once the baby is born, but I don’t know what else I can cut out. By the time I finish work, run my errands, make dinner, clean up the kitchen and grade papers, it’s time for bed. Then I do it all over again the next day. I could delegate dish duty to someone, but I’m not sure that’s going to be enough.
I just read in a magazine that during the first several weeks of my baby’s life, I will be spending a total of approximately eight hours a day feeding her. Just feeding her! Then there are diaper changes, baths, getting her dressed and perhaps feeding and bathing myself now and again. So when, exactly, am I cooking dinner, running errands or doing laundry? I’m not even thinking past my six weeks of maternity leave.
Of course, it’s not just about the time. I feel uncomfortable thinking about money in relation to a child, but the truth is that kids are expensive. There are more months than I’d like to think of when I consider which bills I have to pay and which ones I can shuffle until next month without having anything shut off. I know that costs are going to go up and, if anything, my income will be going down.
And then there is the guilt. I had a wonderful childhood. I had the suburban ideal – safe neighborhood, green yards, two parents, wonderful grandparents, two weeks at the seashore every year and lots of trips and great experiences. My family took road trips to different states. We visited historical sites like Gettysburg. We went to the zoo. We went to aquariums, amusement parks and even a World’s Fair. I know that in my current situation, I can’t give my daughter all of those things. I live in a row house in an urban area without a blade of grass in the small yard; she will only have one parent; and because my parents have both passed away, she won’t have grandparents. As for trips and experiences, at this point I feel like the best I can do is the Travel Channel.
The closer her due date gets, the more I wonder if I’m going to be enough. I have always wanted to be a mom, and I really thought I’d be good at it. For years I’ve read the parenting magazines in doctor’s offices, mentally planned future birthday parties and imagined being the team mom. I got to do a little of that with Jon and Ace, but they were teenagers when they came to me. I think they’d both give my “mom skills” a high rating, and they laugh through my Valentine’s Day heart-shaped pancakes and birthday party rituals. But I still longed to start at the beginning. It’s just that when I imagined all of those things, I never imagined doing them while working a full-time job, let alone doing them by myself. Can I do this? Will I be good enough?
All I know is that I love my baby and I want to be the best mom I can be. Every day I have to remind myself that God will be with me. He will help me. Someone once told me "the will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you." It's a daily struggle to remember I’m not alone, but I'm trying. I'm trying.