This article, by Elisha Kiriel Carter, is the first in our guest writers series.
When I was child of about eleven or twelve, deep in the throes of the excruciatingly awkward phase now deemed “tween,” I was staying with a family friend who was pregnant with her second child. I had grown accustomed to staying with Julie and helping her keep her two year old daughter occupied. One evening, Julie, sitting next to me on her sofa, turned to me with a very somber expression. She then lifted the shirt covering her bourgeoning belly to reveal a large amount of creeping blue veins and stretch marks. She warned me that this is what would happen to me if I were ever to become pregnant, so I must be very careful. The somber look faded as I asked if I could touch her belly and if she could feel the baby moving inside. Something about the way with which she spoke of her unborn child told me that, despite the strained appearance of her stomach, she wasn’t very upset about this— because the baby inside meant so much more.
There is a stigma surrounding marrying young, marriage in general. It has been engrained in many of my generation that divorce is the most likely outcome of any marriage: that people leave, that people cheat, that in the end you will hurt. This is a result of watching so many of the generation who birthed us get married flippantly and divorce with passionate rage, or worse yet without much of a care at all, moving on to the next spouse and repeating (basically) the same life over again. Many of us 90’s and millennial babies come from blended families, divorced parents. We have been raised to stay guarded. This hasty glimpse of marriage detracts from the true beauty of marriage. It is remarkable and immensely comforting, the act of building a life together. There’s a certain strengthening quality in making a promise to stick around and follow through. It is a commitment that isn’t suitable for all people. It is deeply selfless, sacrificial; an amorphous entity. It is a labour of love from which you reap what you sow.
It is true that you should make sure that you have a good foundation in life before having children. It is a huge responsibility as well as a test of will and selflessness, but the daunting idea that having a child ruins your life is not correct. At least, it certainly hasn’t been for me. It is true that parenthood consumes you, but like most labours of love, you get out what you put in and the reward outweighs the cons of the job. From the moment this terrifyingly tiny, vulnerable, beautiful creature is placed into your arms, it is your job to make sure that they stay safe, happy, comfortable, loved, nurtured, and educated. The list goes on. It is a job, if a severely undervalued one, because it is work— but it is entirely a labour of love; that of which the payout is a healthy, happy, well-functioning adult who (if you do it right) will give to you the invaluable gift of taking part in their life.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I haveever done; it is a far, far better restthat I go to than I have ever known.” ~Charles Dickens
Motherhood will chew you up and spit you out. It will make you question everything you know about yourself and the world around you. Ryenne has taught me an immeasurable deal about life and myself in just the two years in which I’ve been blessed to be in her life (three if you count her gestation, which I do). Every day is a journey in who I am, who I need to be for her, and how I can get there. My entire state of mind changed from the moment she entered this world, with a bang, through my dreams. I feel as though I am possessed of two lives: pre-Ryenne and post. I can never return to who I was. I can only move forward, mindfully, meaningfully and lovingly, figuring out how to fulfill my dreams all while setting the framework for Ryenne to fulfill hers.