In today’s "mommy war" obsessed parenting culture, feeling prepared to become a mother is all but impossible. And if you ever dreamed of being a perfect mom once the time finally comes? Forget about it—perfect parenting has become so polarizing and specialized that it’s now a mythical concept that can exist only in parodies of itself.
The thing is, there really isn’t a checklist that’s fit to determine whether or not you’re ready to become a mother, or how good you’ll be at it. Just this week Angelina Jolie-Pitt—now famously raising the six children that she has adopted and birthed with husband Brad Pitt—admitted to an Access Hollywood reporter that the desire to become a mother was never something that she considered, much less compared against a checklist.
"It's strange,” she says, “I never wanted to have a baby. I never wanted to be pregnant. I never babysat. I never thought of myself as a mother.” But while playing with children at a Cambodian school following the filming of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, "it was suddenly very clear to me that my son was in the country, somewhere.”
Jolie-Pitt isn’t the only celebrity to become a mother after initially shunning the idea. In 2012 Zooey Deschanel told Marie Claire that having kids has “never been my focus” and that motherhood was “never an ambition… I like working. That’s what I like doing. I like to work.” Last year, however, the actress happily welcomed a daughter with her husband.
Similarly, Eva Mendes told an Australian reporter that she didn’t “feel the urge” to have kids—that is, apparently, until she met Ryan Gosling (we don’t blame you, Eva). The couple welcomed daughter Esmeralda in 2014.
I can relate. Although I never felt strongly that I would never have kids, after several years of marriage, when my husband was “ready,” I didn’t have much of an emotional investment in the idea. Our lives seemed pretty full as they were, and I just couldn’t drum up the touchy-feely sentiment that I thought was standard issue prior to getting pregnant. Instead, I opted to move forward on the path to motherhood as more of a practical matter: I knew it was part of the package when I married my husband, and now seemed like as good of a time as any. I hoped that the touchy-feely part would come later. I ditched the checklist, and it worked out—I now have two young sons whom I adore.
The path to motherhood can be winding or straight, surprising or expected, touchy-feely or just plain practical. As Angelina and the other celebrity moms remind us, there's no one-size-fits-all prescription or check-list that comes with it. There's not a predestined group of women who are "cut out to be a mom" and others who are not. Much like any challenge we encounter in life, motherhood can help us grow and stretch ourselves in ways we hadn't imagined.
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