I'm beginning to wonder if the longer I wait to have a kid, the less likely it is going to happen. Obviously as I am getting older, I have to wonder whether I even have the ability to reproduce; but since I've been actively avoiding it for all of these years, I don't know if that's going to be an issue. Uterine function aside, having kids just seem to make less sense with every passing ovum.
While I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up, I never doubted that I would be a mom - someday. I love kids and *adore* babies. I've been babysitting since I was eleven years old. (Can you imagine anyone leaving a baby with an eleven year old these days?!) Now that I am 32 and have been married for four years, I'm wondering if someday is ever going to come. Plenty of people have said to me, "if you wait for the right moment, you're never going to have kids." Maybe some people hear that advice and hop in the sack for some baby-making, but when I hear that, I heed the warning.
Being pregnant does not look fun. You're likely sick to your stomach in the beginning and it looks so uncomfortable towards the end. Maybe the second trimester is pleasant, but some horror stories of the third trimester include everything from swollen feet to horrific tales of anal varicose veins. ANAL VARICOSE VEINS! (Google at your own risk.) I shut down for three weeks when a friend told me about her pregnant friend afflicted with this horrible punishment for having sex. This symptom was certainly not covered in my 5th grade sex-ed class. I guarantee that teenage pregnancy rates would decline if this potential side-effect (and other unsavory details, say, pooping during delivery or mucous plugs) were covered in detail. Who knew?! I did not know these things until my girlfriends with babies candidly shared their stories. It seems it is key to get pregnant before you know the details involved... but then again, people choose to do it again with subsequent pregnancies, so I suppose a full education on giving birth is not necessarily a maternal dealbreaker. And they say you forget the pain and suffering as soon as you hold that baby. (I've also heard from more honest friends, that "they" lie and it hurts like a mofo.)
I know for sure that having a baby would be fulfilling in many ways, but I'm still not convinced that it's the right thing for me to do... and it surprises me that I am having these feelings! I used to think it was bizarre when people would say that they did not want children. I assumed that they would change their mind one day or regret it. I was so oblivious to how judgy that was.
I am very sensitive, emotional, and indecisive, with a light sprinkling of stubborness and occasional flightiness. I do not like it when people tell me what to do, or when they offer unsolicited advice. Most people in my life are not shy to offer their input. I am too polite, (or, too much of a weenie), to tell a person that I think they are wrong or out of line. Knowing this, I fear the day when people criticize our techniques and I am paralyzed with rage; unable to tell this person that my parenting choices are none of their concern. I'm sure most advice is fueled with good intentions, but I cannot hear unsolicited advice without flipping a mental bird at the parenting expert. I'm sure what you're doing is fine and dandy but I'm not sure if I'm emotionally prepared to hear that everything I'm doing is wrong. I worry too much about what other people think.
The other day, I expressed my procreation indecision to a friend, the mother of two grown children. She told me that she couldn't imagine her life without them. I know that she loves her children more than anything in the world and I think her response was very sweet... but, I am capable of imagining a life both with and without children. In one dream, I see a darling little girl who wants to play with her dollies and lets me braid her hair. In another dream, I have time to devote to all of the creative endeavors that nurture my own soul. I may even be successful in turning one of my hobbies into a career and spend the rest of my life feeling good about what I do for a living. In both dreams, I am happy, fulfilled,... delusional?
I do not believe that children make us happy. They shouldn't be expected to make us happy! Sure, we will love, love, love them, but the old adage that nobody can make you happy but yourself... INCLUDES your kids, right? Some say that children are a reflection of their parents; and while that is true to a certain extent, the fact remains that they are individuals who are born with their own little personalities, their own destinies, even. Having children for the purpose of self-actualization seems more selfish, I think, than not having them so that you have the money and the time to spend your life traveling around the world. But once that kid is in the world, is it possible to stop yourself from placing unrealistic expectations on them? What about unrealistic expectations on ourselves, as parents?
In an ideal world, I would not have to work. I could stay at home with my happy babies who take naps that are long enough for me to make their homemade baby food and clean the house. In my parenting fantasies, I seem to have time to write and garden and go to the gym. Oh, and I have a home in a city that I wish I lived in, instead of this rental in the county that I can't seem to escape. Raising my child in a town where I feel ethnically, socially, and politically accepted, means that I am surrounded by like-minded mothers at the parks and schools. I feel confident that my kid will grow up to be respectful and kind because these crunchy, vegan hippie moms are raising their kids the same way that I am raising mine.
The reality is, as long as I remain married to Matthew, we will be living in this general area. I will be working full time and dropping my baby off at some daycare center. I will not focus fully on my work because I will be consumed with worry and guilt. I will be way too busy to make organic baby food and will succumb to the convenience of Happy Meals - something I cannot even comprehend myself allowing right now.
When my children reach the dreaded middle school years, I will wonder if my absence in their toddlerhood is the reason that they are bullies/bullied/promiscuous/dorky/rebellious/__________ (insert atrocious adolescent behavior.)
My greatest fear is the unknown. What if Matt and I do not last forever? Maybe that seems like a terrible thing to say, but I choose to err on the side of caution than be Blind-Sided, Sandra Bullock style. I don't think I'll ever find out that my husband is banging Nazi whores, but plenty of other more realistic things could happen that would leave one of us in a precarious situation. What if one of us passes away while we are still very young? What if we lose our jobs? What if Sarah Palin actually becomes President? What if we don't fix the environment before it's too late? The list of what ifs could go on forever... and I think about them all of the time.
Maybe these are irrational fears. Maybe one day, the alarm will sound on my biological clock and I will disregard my fears of raising a child in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I don't know what I will decide but I feel like I need to come to terms with my decision soon. If I have children, I will hopefully separate my own ideas of success and happiness from my child's and I will encourage them to pursue their own dreams. I will continue to work towards self-fulfillment that is not based on my child's successes and failures.
If I don't have children, I will still have a life with value. Parenthood is important and special and amazing, but it is not the only path, or even a guaranteed path, to fulfillment. I struggle with the whole want vs need thing and I realize that I do not NEED a baby... but when I see one, I want one; badly. Is there really any other reason to do it? Is that a good enough reason?