The #UnintendedJoy of Reluctant Motherhood

This week is the week of “choices.” It is School Choice Week (a passion of mine) and it is also the week of March for Life, where we are once again made aware of the issue of “choice” in pregnancy and abortion.

As we head into the annual March for Life on Washington this Friday, #UnintendedJoy is currently popping up across Twitter – women and men sharing their stories of how an unintended pregnancy led to unimaginable joy and thanksgiving. Pundit Mary Katherine Ham penned a particularly moving article about her amazing baby girl, born just two months after the loss of her husband, Jake in a tragic accident.

I don’t have any stories of such magnitude. I’m blessed to be parenting two amazing children with my husband of 18 years. I’ve never had an unplanned pregnancy and since I was very young I always knew I wouldn’t want to be a single parent and planned my life (and sex life) accordingly.

My story feels inadequate compared to others, but I wanted to share it anyway, in case a young woman is out there who might be moved in some way by my very simple but life-changing tale.

I never wanted to be a mother. I always viewed children as a burden.  I knew of almost no one in my own family who actively planned their families. Rarely did I see a pregnancy met with joy, only concern and disappointment. Of course, that always changed once baby arrived, but the sentiments stuck with me and I unknowingly internalized them. I didn’t want to create the same kind of burden for myself that I had visited upon my single mother.

Then something crazy happened. I fell in love with a family man. A wonderful man, the son of a dedicated pastor and stay-at-home-mother, raised in a stable home with three other siblings. A “traditional” man. We did what few black couples do these days (statistically speaking)…we got married. Once we’d decided on marriage it happened quickly…within months. Tongues started wagging at church. The pastor’s son marrying so fast? She must be pregnant!

I was not. But just like that famous line in one of our favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally.

When you meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Despite our commitment, I was sure I could do no child any good as a mother. I just wasn’t the “mothering” type.

My husband was patient and understanding. As I matured into my marriage my love for him deepened and there seemed no more natural way to express that love than to create a life together. After a few years I agreed to start a family and within a year we were the parents of a healthy, handsome baby boy.

I couldn’t have known how utterly and joyously helpless I would become the moment I held him. I was suddenly a slave to love and there would be no turning back. Years later we added another bundle of joy. What my kids gave me was a deeper sense of purpose than I’d ever known. Suddenly I wasn’t just living for myself.  I was right that children were a heavy burden to bear…I was wrong about how terrible that burden would be.

It is the sweetest load I’ve ever borne.

Becoming a mother has also gave me a whole new understanding of God’s love for me, for each of us. I suddenly saw myself from His perspective…the perspective of a parent.

I once overheard my toddler son singing some praise and worship songs from church as he played. I stood behind his door for 30 minutes and just listened to him singing and playing.  It was as if I’d never heard singing before. In that moment I couldn’t have imagined a more moving, amazing, talented singer in all the world. My love for him seemed too big to fit in my heart.

That is how God sees us – with warts and flaws, yes but also as the most beautiful of creations. Our voices are His music. Even when we are disobedient or selfish He still sees us as stunning and perfect, the way were created to be. Just like I see my children as incredible, delightful and wonderful human beings even in their flaws, so does He see us.

Ironically, as opposed to stopping my forward momentum I strongly believe being a parent has at times been my only reason for continuing to move forward when all I wanted to do was stop everything and give up.

Parenting has made my husband and I closer in ways I didn’t know possible. We’re an exclusive team and this is the family we’ve made together. No one knows what we know about this family, this life, this experience called the Davis family. It’s a sweet secret that will always bond us.

I am so glad God changed my heart toward parenthood. It frightens me to think of all the #UnintendedJoy I would have missed out on had I let my fear dictate our path. In pro-life circles we (rightly) focus our efforts on women and men who are struggling with the fear of unintended pregnancy. They need our encouragement to know that while right now it might feel like the end of the world, in reality it is only the beginning of something great.

I only wanted to add to that encouragement. You don’t have to be single and alone to be terrified of parenthood. Even the comfort of having a partner didn’t spare me from the insecurities about my future if I allowed myself to be a mother.

I’m fourteen years into this parenting thing and I can say with full and complete honesty that there has never been one day, one hour, one second, one iota of a moment that I have regretted my children and their presence in my life.

That is the true legacy of #UnintendedJoy.