5 Reasons I’m Not Ready for Motherhood

There is such a special sweetness in being able to participate in creation.

Pamela S. Nadav

Six and a half weeks. That is roughly how long before baby Hawkins Knell enters the world. That is roughly how much longer I need to ask for help tying my boots (I definitely never thought I would need to do that), wear Gabe’s L.L. Bean jacket, and gather as much wisdom from those who have gone before. I am waiting with excitement now, much more than fear, and it really became real at the baby shower my sister and family threw for me. There was no denying it: this baby is coming whether I think I’m ready or not.

  1. I don’t know what things are called. I’ve been researching all the accoutrements so many claim are Must. Have. I’m not much of a researcher (I prefer, instead, to make big decisions based on one or two facts, my gut, and the desire for definitiveness), so it is strange to find myself scrolling article after article about the latest stroller/car seat combo, the best crib ($499, Pottery Barn? I think not.), and the best bottles for a fussy baby (I don’t even know yet if I’ll have a fussy baby…) That being said, Saturday I was sitting at my baby shower, surrounded by women I love, opening gifts. It was my sister’s gift, and out came smooth wooden animals for teething. “Oh! Chew toys!” I said. Facepalm. “Catherine, they’re teething rings,” someone said, laughing, and I, too began to laugh. I also was unsure of the difference between a sling and a wrap, but I was duly informed.
  2. I only do laundry once every two-three weeks. This is perhaps the area in which I am least prepared for change. When I was single living in the city, I could stretch my wardrobe to nearly three weeks. This was done with an excessive amount of underwear and just enough bath towels. The only thing that really pushed me to do laundry was running out of gym clothes or underwear, and that was when I had a laundry machine and dryer handy in the kitchen. Now, living in New Hampshire, our washer/dryer is on the same floor as our condo, but it’s down the hallway. I can’t tell you how much I hate walking down that hallway with my laundry basket. I can’t even put my finger on it — maybe it’s fear that someone will walk by. Maybe it’s stressing about remembering to change the laundry over so I don’t annoy our neighbors. I hate it so much that usually Gabe throws in a few of my things with his wash, just to avoid my meltdown.
  3. I don’t know how to simplify my life. I love composting. I know this does not make sense, but every time I open the freezer and pop a pepper top in the Market Basket bag, or knock the tea leaves out of my steeper, I get a surge of joy. I can’t help but marvel at the cycle of life and think about how I am sending energy back into the earth in a way that is life-giving rather than wasteful. However, if you noticed, I said “every time I open the freezer.” That’s because living in a condo does not lend itself well to composting. I’ve struck a deal with my parents that I can bring my frozen scraps to their house, and I do so every time the freezer gets full and Gabe threatens to throw it all in the trash. It’s worth it to me. But it isn’t simple. It isn’t easy. There are a lot of things like that in my life right now. I don’t stock up on staples in my kitchen or snacks at my school because it takes planning, but that makes my days more difficult. I don’t pack my lunches in the evenings to streamline my mornings because that makes me feel like all I do is work or plan for work. I don’t put my reusable grocery bags in my car so I have them with me no matter what because I can’t be bothered to remember. I don’t know how we will make cloth diapers work if I work full-time and currently don’t do laundry. I don’t know how to say no to a new voice student, a coffee date, or a fun dinner out. What I know how to do is freeze my compost, recycle recycle recycle, try to shop frugally, and try to get as much fun in my week as possible. Babies don’t make life easier, they make them more complicated. Yet, I find myself hoping this baby forces me to learn how to slow down, streamline, plan. Fingers crossed.
  4. I function best with 8-9 hours of sleep. And the thing is, this is barely optional. I am not kind, I am not joyful, and I am not organized when I don’t get enough sleep. The kindness I do have some control over, but the organization? No, that is the first thing to leave my sleep-deprived mind. I don’t remember what I’ve said, the names of things, or my schedule. Nursing in the night is going to be such an interesting adventure.
  5. I’m not good at leaving my club. This is the one that is least tangible and therefore, the most interesting to me. I realized this about myself when I had my first post-college relationship. All of a sudden, I was in the “Couples Club,” when I hadn’t even known clubs existed at all. I was invited to events I’d never been invited to, I was asked out to double dates with friends who had never asked me to dinner before, and I found myself frustrated for my single-self, the woman who wouldn’t have minded being a third, fifth, or seventh wheel, but who rarely was given the option. Then, over a year ago, I entered the “Married Club.” This club was more overt. Topics of conversation include: buying a house, investing, saving for the future, who-does-what around the house. I enjoy many of these conversations, but it was not lost on me that my 25-year-old self would have no idea what to make of them. In fact, she would have thoroughly stuck her nose up at the boring details of married people. And now, I find myself leaving the “No-Children Club” for the “Mommy Club” (do I have permission to rename it the “Family Club”? “Motherhood Club”? anything but “Mommy Club”?!). These conversations are different: childcare options, diapering options, feeding options, schooling options. My “No-Children Club” self could barely stand it when people got together to discuss their parenting woes, but I see my time on the horizon, and I am afraid. I like the club I’m currently in. I’d like to stay here. Or, perhaps it’s not that. Perhaps it’s that I’d like to be in the “Family Club” and just do things differently.

While I wonder if these things will make motherhood more difficult, I do not lose heart. I know many mothers who could tell me they weren’t ready, either (but really, what does “ready” even mean?). Just like laughing at my ignorance about teething toys and slings, I am beginning to look at this upcoming change with a sense of humor: Isn’t it funny that I am here, doing this thing? Hopefully my baby doesn’t care about clean clothes, either. 

[P. S. I should also say that Gabe made me promise to write a post called “5 Reasons I’m Ready for Motherhood” to even this out. I appreciate the balance he brings to my life.]



16 Replies to “5 Reasons I’m Not Ready for Motherhood”

  1. As someone who was also intensely unprepared when thrust into the strange new world of parenthood, I relate to this so much. The wildness of becoming someone new as you birth someone new will forever amaze me, and fwiw, I have zero doubts you’ll find your own way through it together, adorable beautiful perfect new family of 3. I cannot wait to meet this little person!

    1. Thanks, Julianne. Watching you learn and navigate parenthood has been invaluable to me. Think of all we’ll have to talk about NOW?!?!

    1. Thank you, Christina! In so many ways I’m excited — I get to show the baby the world! What a privilege.

  2. I said that I felt like a “fake mom” until probably 18 months in. Partially because I felt that while the transition was huge, it was also not huge in its own way. It was the same sort of thing with marriage. Everyone is so fond of telling you that everything is different and you change so much once the ring is on your finger that I almost dreaded this apparent change that would occur overnight after we got married. And then I got up the next morning and I was the same person, and I realized that while things were a little different around me, I was actually still the same. I think the change with motherhood involves fitting that sameness in with different circumstances, and that in itself was sort of comforting. I have no idea if any of that made sense. But also, I love your writing and I’m excited for you to join this next club. Furthermore, I fully support banishing the term “Mommy Club” as far as the east is from the west. 🙂

    1. Right? That is so true. And marriage has been a change, but not in the same way people talked. I’m so glad you feel the same way (I have had “imposter syndrome” before haha). We can coin a new phrase!! Anything but Mommy Club.

  3. Wonderful girl, the fact that you are pondering these things so thoughtfully and honestly means you are the MOST ready momma. Your babe is gonna be the luckiest! ♥️

  4. Hi Catherine! You are so articulate, so aware, so passionate about your life and loves. I think you have a very old soul. The article is again another beautiful, joyful glimpse into how you look at life. You will be an awesome momma, and you’re already smart enough to know it should be the “Family Club.” I am so excited for you and Gabe, what a wonderful family you will have!!

  5. Very thoughtfully written Catherine. Your baby will be a beautiful addition to your life and “addition” is important as you will still be you… but even better! Very special time right now before the birth. Thinking of you and Gabe! Love Aunt Marlene

  6. I know this is an old post now, but I linked to it from your current one and am now reading this as someone who gave birth less than a week ago and feeling like I was woefully unprepared. This entry is such an encouragement to me, especially after seeing your beautiful motherhood posts, now of two babes! I have hope!

    1. Oh, this makes me so glad! It’s sometimes overwhelming to share such intimate details, but I’ve been helped by others who’ve chosen to do so. It was a scary time, but thankfully we are figuring it all out. The fear beforehand was so crazy though! It took me awhile to really adjust to my new role in life. I can’t wait to meet your little one!

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