How Do I Know If I’ll Be A Good Mother?

Annamarya Scaccia shares her recent discovery that she does, in fact, want to have a child, and her anxiety about how motherhood will change her.

“So I’m going to tell you something that may freak you out.”

I swing around in my computer chair and look at my partner of eight years as he lounges carelessly on the couch. There is no more than three feet of space between us but it feels like 20—an emotional distance I am creating because I can’t bear to honor the truth I’m about to reveal.

He examines me with curiosity and maybe a little bit of fear. He puts the TV on pause. “What? What’s going on?”

It’s a loaded question. How do I begin to tell him what’s going on? How do I begin to put words to that one thing, that one thought that’s plagued me for the last couple of months? How do I tell him that everything he’s known about me, everything I’ve said about myself, is a complete lie?

“I think I maybe, possibly want to have a kid in a few years.” I cower as I blurt this out. I cower from the dread of admitting something I’ve fought against for so long, both vocally and within myself. I cower from self-deception, from self-doubt.

Just last month—hell, last week—I’ve beat my drum against bearing a biological child. I want to adopt an older age kid. I want to raise a child who’s been ignored by the system, by the world, I said. My body doesn’t want to be ruined by the nine months of carrying a child I’m not sure I can even care for properly. It’s not something I’m ready for.

But as I sat at my desk, taking a break from my late night editing work, I had an epiphany. Well not an epiphany—more like a clouded moment of clarity. Maybe I do want my own child. Maybe I do want to be a biological mother.

Over the last six months, my partner and I have talked seriously about our future instead of framing it in hypotheticals. We’ve lived together for our entire relationship. We know the ins and outs of our beings, our fears, our hopes, our ambitions, our neuroses. We have shed light on the darkest corners of our intolerable selves and we’ve accepted every inch of our irrational flaws. We’ve been through more together than anyone should and we’ve stayed loyal, waves and all.

So now we’re ready for the next step. As far as we can tell, that’s marriage—which is quite hilarious considering we’ve kicked and screamed against the idea for our entire adult lives. But it’s something we both want to pursue, despite how tightly we’ve wrapped our anti-traditionalist robes around our traditionalist bodies. Continuing this courtship as wife and husband excites us, our rebellious selves be damned.

While marriage is now on the front burner, the “kids” conversation has always floundered in the distance. I am steadfast on the possibility of adoption in five years, which he seems to agree with. And, for a while, he’s had sound reservations about having a child, beating my same drum about never having a biological kid. But, even with his verbal hesitations, I would catch that gleam in his eye whenever he mentioned the daydream of us dancing in the kitchen with our infant in our arms. I would see that sanguinity wash over his face at the thought of making pancakes for our child in the morning.

As much as we’ve believed we were on the same page, the truth is we weren’t. He wants his own child. It scares him, but he wants it.

Until a couple days ago, I didn’t. My body doesn’t have that pull toward motherhood, I convinced myself. I can’t envision being responsible for an infant, for a toddler, for a teenager, for an adult. I can’t bear to think that their life experiences would fall on my head; that if something goes wrong, it would be my fault—that I have failed them. What if I can’t provide for them, and what if I forget what I’ve worked so hard for in my career? What if I become a shell of myself, dragging myself through life as a decaying zombie who no longer knows how to be strong? What if I can’t pass down the exacting morals my moms gave to me?

And I’ve made no qualms about being honest about my major depressive disorder. What if I can’t take care of them? How do I move through my bad days? How do I push down all those uncertainties and insecurities to feed, to dress, to love my child? How do I get over myself?

I’ve come to realize that, under all that distress, is just a 30-year-old woman who’s afraid of what she can’t control. And that’s where I fail myself. I’ve learned to silence those illogical anxieties when it comes to my work as a journalist. I no longer keep myself locked in a vault of panic when chasing a story, or even writing a blog post like this. So why am I allowing myself to be arrested by those same trepidations when it comes to bearing my own child?

In searching for the answer, I consider my friends with kids—mothers a few years shy of 30. Their pregnancies were unplanned but they welcomed them, regardless of the chaos that befell their lives. They work hard to give their children beautiful lives, and any obstacles that fall by their feet, they simply step over. They revel in motherhood but refuse to be defined by it. They spit in the face of social standards as they adore their children and pursue their dreams. They continue to challenge societal notions about woman. They’re amazing people who happen to be mothers, not the other way around.

Being truthful about my fears has allowed me to be honest about my delicate desire to be a mother. I don’t know when I will be ready. I don’t know if I ever will. I know it’s not today, or even a couple of years from now. But I realized that I’ll never know what will happen while raising a kid. My friends don’t. My mothers didn’t. But I can’t continue to let that tear me apart. I can’t continue to let my biological clock battle my need for unfiltered independence. I can’t continue to lie to myself.

The fact is, when my partner and I decide to have a child, I will still be Annamarya. I will still be a journalist and an artist. I will still be adventurous and overwhelmed. I will still be strong and inquisitive. I will still be passionate and unyielding, concerned and exhausted. I will still be crass and vulgar.

Most importantly, I will still dance in the aisles of supermarkets when Bell Biv Devoe plays overhead. And I will dance with our child in my arms. I will bounce her on my chest and tickle her feet. I will instill in her the same child-like wonder my 30-year-old self carries, so she can pass it onto her child.

When the time comes to be a mother, I will not change. I will just evolve.

Annamarya Scaccia is an award-winning freelance journalist and graphic designer who’s written extensively on sexual violence, reproductive health & rights, marriage equality, constitutional issues, body image, and gender roles, among other rousing topics. Her work has appeared in/on Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia City Paper, Prince George’s Suite Magazine,,, BLURT, and Origivation. Follow her on Twitter @sitswithpasta.

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