I don’t share very many photos of my 17 month old son Dawson anymore for safety reasons, but he’s there.
Every day, as I tweet or write or edit or Periscope, my little man is in the background, either wreaking havoc or sleeping (there isn’t much of an in between with toddlers, I’ve noticed). Every day, his little giggles and spit-covered kisses and even his toddler meltdowns over such injustices as not being allowed to eat a whole slice of pizza he stole from the fridge remind me of the biggest reason why I do what I do. Whether that’s working to build Halsey News, or keeping active and trying to eat decently, or keeping my home clean and comfortable, or even just striving to improve myself as a person, my son is always on my mind.
I think I’ve always been a pretty mature person.
I’m a bit of a nerd by nature, and I was homeschooled, which lends itself quite well to hours of reading and contemplating life. From a young age I had a good grasp of the idea that I couldn’t just live life selfishly for me, but for the future I would leave behind for future generations. I of course took part in some selfish teenage behavior (a hangover which culminated in puking all over my friend’s front lawn in front of her dad at eleven in the morning comes to mind) but overall, the weight of the meaning of life has always been laid on me, maybe a bit more than the average person. I’m introspective to a fault – it’s my biggest curse and my greatest blessing.
I believe most people in my generation live with a very simplistic driving force behind their actions: to seek happiness.
This isn’t a bad thing in itself. I don’t believe God placed us on this earth to be miserable, and humans have a unique experience of joy that I seek out as much as I can. We all do.
The problem comes when you become willing to seek out your own happiness at a cost to humanity – and, by extension, a deep cost to yourself as a part of humanity.
We all have a tendency towards this selfish way of living, and we all have different ways of seeking out toxic happiness. Some of us drink. Some of us spend money we don’t have. Some of us stay in toxic relationships (but we’ll get to that).
The specific vice is unimportant. What matters is this: if our only driving force is our own happiness, we doom ourselves and our societies and our civilizations to ruin.
(This is a big reason I argue for Judeo-Christian values – even for those who can’t bring themselves to actually believe in God as a deity. Religion gives us a purpose besides seeking our own happiness – and the result of this is a thriving Western civilization. Of course, this isn’t the only way to live life with a purpose. It also can be taken too far, where people are living an existence of enslavement instead of freedom, in pursuit of God’s favor.)
I’ve pretty much always intellectually understood the truth of living not only for the moment, but for what I would leave behind. But at the age of 22, I found a new way of understanding this truth. A visceral understanding. An understanding that shook me to my bones.
I got pregnant.
I remember the day I found out. I was living in Grande Prairie, Alberta, and it was the beginning of March 2015. It was brutally cold, and my (now ex husband) boyfriend was at work, and I had taken a pregnancy test that I had brought in after cleaning out the car on a whim, not really thinking it would be positive. I immediately called my friend Jackie, in a rush of joy and fear and confusion, before deciding I had better go to the store and get another test. I thought maybe the -40 night we had just had could have messed up the test that was left in the car.
Of course, when I took the new expensive fancy pregnancy test in the grocery store bathroom, it was positive.
And despite the fear I had (we had only been together a year, we had only gotten engaged and not yet married, I was across the country from all of my family and friends, and my family was not going to be pleased), I walked home and I let the joy rush over me. I remember what I listened to – Revelation Song by Kari Jobe, a Christian worship song. I remember that my face was freezing, and my lips were dry, and the sun was screamingly bright, and even though my baby was miniscule at that point, I couldn’t stop touching my belly.
I was struck with the realization that I was carrying a human life inside of my body.
I still get chills thinking about it.
Whatever I did, whatever happened from that moment forward, I wasn’t just me anymore. I no longer was an individual. In that moment, as I walked with my headphones freezing in my ears, trying to be careful and not slip on the ice, paranoid that I would fall and hurt my tiny fetus somehow, I felt myself join with humanity in a way that I had never experienced before.
It didn’t take long for a second feeling to hit me – anxiety. Deep, terrifying, crippling anxiety. Not about the fact that I would have a baby – at that point, I felt so overjoyed that the world could have been crumbling around me and I wouldn’t have noticed – but about the fragility of pregnancy. This tiny person, who I hadn’t even knew had existed for a month prior, had all of a sudden become real to me. And the thought that this little person could die at any time (miscarriage is sadly a very common experience) sent my mind spinning for weeks.
My pro life beliefs intensified that day – and intensified even more about four months later, when I felt my son kick me in Toys R Us for the first time.
My son was my son and is my son. Not a clump of cells, not some sort of pseudo-spiritual abstraction. Dawson.
He grew. I felt my anxiety about his safety fade (though it never went away). He was born into the world. He took a breath. He nursed. He smiled. He laughed. He lifted his head. Crawled. Walked. Called me mom.
Every day, he changes.
And every day, I change.
You can understand, logically, what it means to live for what we leave behind and being happy along the way. But I don’t believe you can understand it the same way as a parent can.
I’m not proud to be a single mother. But despite all of the struggles and the bad decisions surrounding my being a mother, I am eternally grateful that not only am I a mother, but a young mother. I have given myself more time to live my life for what really matters. For my son, and for the world he will inhabit when I am dead and gone, and for his children, and his children’s children.
Because now I have the understanding that only motherhood, in my opinion, can bring. Fatherhood comes in second.
But mother or not, parent or not, we all need to encourage each other to live for a culture of family and tradition and Judeo-Christian values. They are why we have the beautiful civilization that we do, for all its faults.
Ladies, why must we have this bizarre inferiority complex when it comes to 0ur gender?
We can make babies. We can sustain human life. We can give birth. We should revere ourselves as women. We serve a beautiful, incredible purpose.
I pray I get to be a walking miracle again someday.