I’m done having babies. At least, I think I am. My kids are now nine and six years old respectively, in fourth and first grades, and I am home all day alone. I am free to write full-time — essays, scripts, teleplays, possibly even a novel. There’s no room for babies in this full life. Besides, I love uninterrupted nightly sleep. I love not changing diapers. I love having arms free to write whenever and wherever I want.
I’m done having babies. Part of me feels like I’ve been there, done that. That part of my life is behind me. My kids are growing, and I’m enjoying their maturity. To me, being Mom to school-aged children is just as enriching as mothering newborns. We play family games now on Friday nights, and we go to Sunday matinees together. Sometimes, my daughter and I just have “girl time.” I also share a unique and special bond with my only son. This is a magical time together. They’re getting older and wiser each and every day. And yet, they’re still young enough that I only embarrass them some of the time.
I’m done having babies. Although, sometimes I think maybe I have just one more baby in me. I miss baby smells and sweet, cooing baby smiles. Sometimes my busy arms feel too empty. Sometimes I feel lost, adrift, without purpose. It was so easy to feel useful and important when a hungry baby needed feeding — when a mother’s hug could soothe a crying baby, when a healthy, growing baby was a clear sign that Mom was doing something right.
I’m done having babies. Now would definitely not be a good time to go back to sleepless nights. I’m chronically tired even without a baby in the house. My body has been depleted from years of neglect. Even though I’m now getting plenty of rest, adhering to a healthier diet, and trying to stay physically active, I’m still exhausted all the time. I’m working toward health, but it is a slow process. And one that takes my fullest attention and commitment.
I’m done having babies. There was once a naïve part of me that thought having babies would complete me — make me feel whole. And although I wouldn’t trade my children in for anything, I now realize that I must complete myself. Babies grow up. Children become willful people with their own distinct identities, needs, ambitions, and personal agendas. Moms cannot live for or through their children. I have found the boundaries that lie between my children and myself. There is a point where they end and I begin.
I’m done having babies. Now, whole days go by when I barely identify myself as a mom. While my kids are in school, I snuggle up with books and nurture my writing. I am no longer tucked away in the cocoon of my home with the primary responsibility of caretaking. I’m still a mom, and I always will be. Even my flexible work schedule is centered on being home and available for my children. Yet, as my children grow more independent, I no longer think only about those things related to mothering. I have ideas that exist outside the confines of the home.
I’m done having babies. I’m not particularly good at gestating babies. Morning sickness hits me early and hard. Life gets put on hold for nine months while a baby grows inside my belly. With two active kids at home, I can’t afford to put my life completely on hold. Plus, I have all these unfinished writing projects gestating in my mind, begging to be born. Not all babies are flesh and blood.
I’m done having babies. For the past four years, I’ve written primarily about the most life-changing experience of my life — motherhood. However, lately, I’m at a loss for words. What else is there for me to say about motherhood? What else can I say without annoying or humiliating my children? It was fine to write about my kids when they were babies. Now that they are older, I need to protect their privacy. I have to respect their boundaries, as I want them to respect mine.
I’m done having babies. I’m no longer immersed in the kiddie zone — the world of the Teletubbies, or Dora, or Pooh. We don’t spend entire days at Chuck E. Cheese’s, McDonald’s, or the park. I don’t belong to “mommy groups” or sing songs under a bright-colored parachute. Hell, I haven’t even bothered to renew my subscription to Parents magazine. I carry a real purse, not a diaper bag. My kids listen to MY rock-and-roll CDs. And I’ve begun to make friends again who know my first name and don’t refer to me as “Jared’s mom” or “Olivia’s mom.”
I’m done. An entire part of my life that defined me as a person is over. As my children grow, so do I. Together, we move forward toward new and exciting opportunities and life experiences. I have decided to put my writing about motherhood aside, at least temporarily, and concentrate on my screenwriting career. Writing 120-page screenplays is a bit more time-consuming than composing 1,000-word essays. And trying to sell screenplays is even more time-consuming than writing them. My New Year’s resolution is to find an agent or a manager this year. That task alone should keep me busy well into spring.
Still, it is with sadness that I say goodbye to Literary Mama, where I’ve shared my mothering essays for the past two years. I had the privilege and honor of seeing Literary Mama develop in the womb of many women’s minds. I was present when Literary Mama was born and let out its first healthy cry. This has been a labor of love for me, as it has been for many others. So, it is as a proud mother that I leave Literary Mama, the toddler, behind. I am confident that Literary Mama, like my own children, will continue to grow healthy and strong in the years to come.
Lizbeth Finn-Arnold is a mother, freelance writer, and independent filmmaker who lives and works in suburban New Jersey. Her work has appeared in The Independent (Film & Video Monthly), Brain, Child, Pregnancy Magazine, Welcome Home, and Nurturing Magazine. She publishes the monthly webzine, The Philosophical Mother and records an almost daily account of motherhood on her weblog. She is currently working with producing partner Sandy Longo to develop a cable TV series about motherhood based on Andi Buchanan’s Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It.