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Please Advise: I'm worried about being the kind of mom I had.
I don't know if I can escape my past.
Each week, the inbox of our venerable advice columnist, Miss Information, is flooded with queries. And although she makes a valiant effort, she can't answer them all. To deal with the surplus, we've decided to turn to you. So, don your spectacles and help this woman out — give her advice in the comments below.
When I was growing up, my mom was physically and mentally abusive, particularly to the girls in our family. I was very fortunate and got out, and over the past fifteen years have, though therapy and a lot of hard work, become a fairly balanced person with a fantastic life. I've been with my husband for six years, and we've been married for the past two. He knows my family history, and has been very, very supportive as I've struggled with clinical depression and other issues. I've been on meds for years, I regularly check in with my doctor, and I've established healthy boundaries in my life and have a host of friends who support me, etc. Life is good.
Recently, I found myself thinking about what our life would be like if we had a kid, and this terrifies me. I always swore I'd never have kids, never do to anyone else what was done to me (and my siblings). I was very firm on this. Lately, however, I've been re-thinking things. And now that I'm even considering the issue, I have to look at all of the things that could go wrong, and that fear consumes me. In "real life," I'm not a violent person. I'm actually a teacher, and I'm really patient and caring with my students. My friends leave their kids with me to babysit, and everyone I know says what a good mom I'd be.
But I'm so afraid that I'll be a different person when it comes to my own kids, the way my mother was. She was involved in Sunday school at church and everyone thought she was amazing, but at home she could be a monster. It feels inevitable that if I have a child, one day the kid will do something just slightly wrong and the next thing I know I will be screaming with rage, or slapping it repeatedly in the face. What do I do then? No matter how much I go to therapy or stay on my meds or communicate my feelings, I can't guarantee that I won't continue the cycle even though I don't want to. My husband has made it clear that he's fine either way, and that he loves me and respects either choice. And I don't plan to do anything immediately. I've got ten or more years before I'd be unable to have kids. So I'm not going to rush into a decision, but I'm so scared. What should I do?
— I Don't Want to be My Mom
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