My dream growing up was always to have three or even four children. I have always loved children. I started babysitting when I was twelve years old and still sit to this day. My first steady babysitting job was for a family of three. Two angelic girls and a sweet little boy. I would watch them every Monday and Tuesday during the school year (their mom is a teacher so I had summers off). I started when I was twelve, the oldest was in kindergarten, the middle child was in preschool and the youngest was only six months old! Those children brought so much joy into my life back then and I am happy to say, they still do. Watching them grow for the past fourteen years has been a highlight of my life.
During the summers in high school I would watch my younger cousins while my aunt and uncle worked. This was the best job! We would go to the beach almost every day, and for someone who loves the beach, that’s the ultimate dream job! I bonded so much with the boys over those summers; I consider them my younger brothers.
When I went away to college, to study education, I was heartbroken I had to stop watching these five children, change has always been difficult for me, so moving away from home was no exception. I loved certain parts of living away but in the end having to deal with my illness and living away at eighteen proved to be too difficult. Sophomore year I started to commute to school every day. Thankfully I was able to stay at the same college, since it was only a thirty-five minute drive.
My aunt said to me one hot summer day going into sophomore year of college, she didn’t know who she could hire to get her boys from school two to three days a week. I instantly said to her, “I can do that!” So there I was back into babysitting again! After classes ended for the day I would either travel home or to my cousins’ schools’ to pick them up. Almost every afternoon we would go to the local ice cream shop downtown and get slushes. The oldest would always order a blue raspberry slush and the younger one would always have two scoops of two different flavors-three scoops if he was lucky! I would bring them back to their house, help with homework when they got older, and we played until it was time for me to cook dinner. Their house became my second home. I would stay over the nights I watched them so I didn’t have to deal with the hour plus commute home through the Boston traffic.
Of course, my illness would sometimes get in the way of putting my best foot forward while babysitting. That was always difficult. I loved these children so much that I worked through it to the best of my ability. I would have my mom on speed dial if I needed anything and she would walk me through my anxious or depressive feelings. “Take deep breaths and count to ten,” she would say. She would always help distract me from my feelings and help me get back into babysitting mode. Of course some days were harder than others to get back in the mode, but I was so grateful to babysit for people who understood and accepted my invisible illness.
After college I went on to become a preschool and toddler teacher. Oh how I loved my job! Going into work each morning and seeing the smiling faces of those children made my day, every single day! My first couple of months of teaching were a dream. I loved all of the children and I loved everyone I worked with. After a while my depression deepened and it was affecting my job. I would leave work early and even miss some days completely because of it. After a bit of struggling with working full time I took a medical leave of absence. During this time I went to a mental hospital to seek help since my medications were not doing the trick. I thought, oh I’ve tried everything I can except for the hospital, so that must be the cure! Well, I hate to say this, but it wasn’t the cure. After five weeks off of work, going to doctors and therapist appointments and adjusting medications, finally a combination of meds started to work enough for me to think I was ok to go back to work. I went back for a couple of months then again had to take another medical leave. This time that leave lasted not five weeks like before, but five months. Five long months of being home, adjusting medications and trying to get myself back on track enough to work. Those five months were some of the longest of my life. I was heartbroken I couldn’t work. I missed my students and my teacher friends. Again when I thought my medications were balanced enough I went back to work. I started out part time and thought I’d be able to make my way back to full time shortly. Boy was I wrong. I ended up having to resign from my job in the summer of 2014. This killed me. I loved my job but working just became too much of a struggle while trying to deal with my bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
Now you’re probably thinking, what does this blog has to do with the title, “To be a Mom, or Not To Be a Mom?” Well, here I go. Today I went to my friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. It was wonderful. Her daughter was so happy and so was I! I love this little girl so much; she brings so much joy into my life. Watching her grow the past year has been amazing! Watching her blow out the candles after we all sang “Happy Birthday” I was thinking, will I ever be lucky enough to have a daughter, or a son for that matter and be able to watch them grow? Living with my illness I can only hope that my dream of having children can still be a possibility. Knowing how much goes into being a great parent; I don’t think my dream of having three or four children is realistic, for my personal self. I think having that much responsibility is a total blessing, but I don’t know if I’d be able to handle that big of a blessing.
I hope that one day I can have a child of my own, or maybe even two if I’m lucky. Then again I have to think of my capabilities and how being a mother might totally overwhelm me. Living with my illness I personally don’t know if I could be the mother I’ve always dreamed of being. This brings me back to my number one goal in life, doing what is right for me. I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but I can only hope and dream that it’s going to be a great one!