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On (not) Being a Mother

mother swingToday is Mother’s Day. A wonderful day. Unfortunately I am not spending it with my mom, having  just visited her for Easter, but I did get her a few little gifts and made her a card.

Motherhood is a weird thing for me. You see, I don’t expect to have my own children. That is my choice. I know that those of you trying to conceive may not understand. I know that those of you who mother children may not understand. Again, it is my choice, not yours.

My reasons do swirl around my illness. If I wasn’t beautifully bipolar maybe my decision would be different. I plan on writing a blog in which other bipolar parents weigh in on the subject, but for today’s post let’s focus on just me.

First of all, I should tell you that I am a kinda-sorta-mom every other weekend. I live with my boyfriend and he has 3 wonderful kids from his past marriage. They are 9, 11, and 13. I’ve been in their lives for about 4 years. I do enjoy caring for them – hearing about their school crushes, making them brownies and other treats, strawberry picking, pumpkin carving, spending the holidays at my parents’ when we have them. But there is a flip side to this. I become overwhelmed by the frenetic activity that is involved in being a kid. The noise. The sibling rivalry. Our “family” isn’t perfect and for me it is hard. People tell me it is different when your boyfriend’s (or husband’s) children are not his ex’s but your own. I don’t know if this is true. For me, for now, they are enough.

So how does my illness play into my decision of having my own children. First of all, my case of bipolar disorder is what was once labeled “treatment resistant.” It’s bad and it took a long time to find some meds in combo with therapy that allowed me to function as well as I am able to on a good day. If I were to become pregnant I wouldn’t want to take any meds for the sake and safety of the fetus. I know there are some that are safer, but I know I wouldn’t take even those. That would put both me and the baby at risk – of suicide, depression, mania, psychosis. My mania is often fueled by lack of sleep and new mothers don’t get a hell of a lot of it, again, putting me at risk. Not to mention my OCD and anxiety. I would be a mess of a mother.

Who knows, maybe one day I will read this blog while bouncing my baby on my knee and think how wrong I was, but I don’t think so. I really don’t. I’m 33 now, not yet married, so the “clock is ticking.” But like I said, my boyfriend’s kids are enough for now. I think they are all I can handle which is okay. I don’t have to be Supermom to be happy. I don’t even have to be a mom. I can be Auntie Elaina and a friend to my friend’s kids. Motherhood isn’t for everyone.

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On (not) Being a Mother

Elaina J. Martin

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APA Reference
Martin, E. (2014). On (not) Being a Mother. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 11 May 2014
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