Afraid of motherhood…

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

I’d always assumed that Dan and I would start a family just as soon as we became independently wealthy or I turned 30, whichever happened first. 

Well, in three weeks I turn 30, (no major news to report regarding our progress toward independent wealth), which means I’ve been thinking a lot about “the plan,” wondering if perhaps it might be adjusted. 

It’s been a spring full of baby showers and big announcements. Most of my close friends are either pregnant or nursing new babies. And on top of that, for the month of May I’m focusing my research and experiments for the “biblical womanhood” project on motherhood—interviewing moms, reading a shelf-full of parenting books, babysitting each week, investigating the Quiverfull movement, sorting through the Bible’s many confusing passages related to childbirth and motherhood, and confronting my own fears about starting a family…which are many. 

I’ve been punished by fellow Christians for saying this out loud, but it’s the truth: I’m afraid of motherhood. 

I’m afraid that having children will disrupt our happy marriage. 

I’m afraid that starting a family will put a swift end to my career. 

I’m afraid that I will never figure out how to use diaper genies.

I’m afraid that my inability to multi-task will make me a bad mom. 

I’m afraid of losing myself in a world of diapers and Dora and nursery themes and mommy wars. 

I’m afraid of being totally responsible for another life. 

I’m afraid of bringing into this world a little person who can and probably will be hurt and disappointed. 

And I’m afraid that I have to figure out my own faith before I can pass it along to a new generation. 

I realize that many of these fears are either selfish or unfounded, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are there, creeping into my mind at every baby shower and in every babysitting session.  Unfortunately, the Church is not the easiest place to express such fears out loud. On more than one occasion I’ve been told that because I am not a mother, I am not qualified to write a book about womanhood.  The implication is that a childless woman isn’t a whole woman, that I can’t possibly offer any insights into my role as a woman in the Church until I’ve procreated. 

And never, in all my years of expressing these fears, have I been told by a Christian, “Well, you don’t haveto have children.” The assumption that if I can I must simply goes without saying.

In spite of all of this, I do want to have kids one day…just maybe when I’m 31 or 32 or we’ve figured out that independent wealth thing.  I have faith that when it is time, my fears will get swallowed up by love and I’ll know that motherhood is worth the risk. 

But in the meantime, I’d love to get some feedback: 

Moms—Did you ever wrestle with these fears? If so, how did you overcome them?  Did you ever feel “ready”? 

Everyone—Why do you think Christians are so hard on childless women?  Do you think there is an assumption in Christian circles that procreation is necessary for true, God-honoring womanhood? 

(Please note that I may use some of your responses in my book.)

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