I Never Wanted to Be a Mother

motherIlina Ewen isn't a mom who pulls punches. This "left-leaning" mother of two lets it all out over on her blog Dirt & Noise, and we love her all the more for it.

She's helping us celebrate Mother's Day the way she always does: with no-holds-barred truth about how she came to be a mom.

I never wanted to be a mother.

As a girl, my imaginative play never included weddings, babies, or boyfriends. I used to line up my collection of dolls from around the world and stage my very own lilliputian Miss Universe Pageant.


I even made paper sashes for all my dolls and made a microphone out of bits of cardboard and tin foil. I’d scavenge around the house looking for scraps of fabric and ric rac to hand-sew Barbie clothes. I cut out photos from magazines and glued them to the walls of my shoebox Barbie house, drawing intricate frames around those images that were to be Barbie’s artwork. I spent hours dressing my Barbies, ignoring Ken who had been relegated to Skipper’s babysitter.

When I was a bit older I spent my time inhaling books and writing. Short stories. Poems. Letters. I wrote over the top gloppy, cheesy rhyming poems that would make the most treacly romance novel sound like it came from the brain of Diablo Cody. I was forever agonizing over unique words that rhymed with love. I mean, dove, glove, and of could only go so far in my seventh grade repertoire.

I wasn’t much of a babysitter, and I really didn’t know babies and young children. I didn’t grow up with the hijinks of cousins reveling around the kids’ table. I didn’t even have friends with young siblings. I suppose I simply didn’t have exposure to kids, so I never grew up with the yearning to have my own.

After Mac Daddy and I were married a few years and had each finished graduate school, we decided quite cerebrally that we better get rolling if we wanted to have a family. Age 35 was looking us both square in the eye, but we kept turning our glance askance. We figured that time was not on our side so we might as well get on with it. It’s not that we made the decision lightly but we made the decision more for practicality’s sake than anything else. And we agreed to not pursue Herculean efforts should things not go our way. I joke that not only was my biological clock not ticking; it wasn’t even plugged in.

And luck graced us.



Now that I have my sons, I cannot imagine my life any other way. I don’t know what else could be as rewarding and fill my whole being with as much wonder and love.

Parenthood is no walk in the park. Scratch that, as there actually is quite a bit of walking in the park. What I mean is that being a mother is not always delightful. There are times I sunk to new lows and didn’t know how to climb out. I find myself losing my patience over a load of ridiculousness. I yell. I sulk. Sometimes I just suck.

I don’t even consider myself a great mom but I do know that I try. And I know that I love my children fiercely. I want nothing more than to protect them and shower them with a love so great they will always carry with them the warmth of Home.

What I realize now is that I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t have the kind of family memories that I couldn’t wait to replicate. I didn’t have traditions I wanted to pass down. The pictures of my childhood are not what Norman Rockwell painted. I grew up cared for and loved, yet I never felt cared for and loved. I simply knew this because my head told me so while my heart kept mum. Now that I’m a mother, of course I realize and applaud and value the sacrifices my parents made for us. I don’t take that lightly, but as a child, I was not so enlightened. Something was missing from my home.


Joy is what I want Bird and Deal to feel wrapped in like a cashmere cable knit blanket with the fringe snaggled off a bit so it’s comfortably worn and not decoratively fancy. When they are long gone and think of home, I want them to be warmed by the pure joy we share as a family. Oh, there are plenty of rough times and lots of bitching, but overall, we have a dang good time here. I didn’t know that this is what Family felt like. I didn’t realize how muted my life was until Bird and Deal colored my days (and my walls, my duvet cover, my kitchen table ...). I am thankful beyond words that God, the Fates, Mother Earth gave me life’s greatest mulligan.

This is my chance. My second chance. And damn if motherhood isn’t the most thrilling journey.

I never wanted to be a mother, but I always wanted to love.

For more from Ilina Ewen, check out her site: Dirt & Noise

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Follow her on Twitter: @Ilinap

When did you decide you wanted to become a parent?

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