I’m 33 years old. I’m fully invested in a happy (with its ups and downs, of course) marriage with my high-school sweetheart.
We own a home in Southern California. We both work and make decent money. We have a 3-year old mutt named Zephyr who is a total handful. There is lots of love, stability, and security in our relationship. We always assumed we would be having kids by now, or at least be starting to plan for them. But, for some reason, we’re stuck.
The idea of having children sounds … like something I’m not ready to deal with yet. And this is for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, the future of the planet, my body, money, my career, my sense of self, my independence, addressing a total lifestyle overhaul, selfishness, selflessness, and so many other complicated thoughts that invade my mind on almost a daily basis.
This is why I (we) haven’t been able to take the leap yet.
Theoretically, kids seem like a good idea.
I have always assumed I would have children. The problem is, I’m not exactly sure what that means. Do I actually want children? Or is it a concept that has been thrust upon me like so many other societal norms? When I think about 60-year-old me, I imagine I have a family of adult children (two, to be exact). Whether those kids are biologically my own or the result of an adoption, that’s another story.
But when am I supposed to just go for it?
So why am I not like so many other women in my age bracket who crave motherhood? They absolutely relish the idea of holding their own tiny baby and rearing its cute little body into adulthood. I see that desire so clearly in some of my friends, but in myself, the concept is muddied and existentially confusing. Am I ever going to wake up one day and decide that today seems like a great day to start trying to have a child? And if not, what am I supposed to do about that if I think it might be a mistake not to have one?
The idea of having children terrifies me, but so does the idea of never having them.
The list of reasons the idea of having a child is scary (to say the least) is a long one. But if I think about making a final decision that I absolutely do not want children and I’ll never try to have one, that thought is at least equally as terrifying. Will I spend my life feeling like I never did the thing that women are programmed to think we absolutely must do above all other things? Will I realize later in life that I crave a larger family?
I do like kids and have spent a great deal of time with them. Usually as a nanny, camp counselor, soccer coach, or other iteration of caretaker that eventually gets to clock out and leave the kids with their real parents at the end of the day.
Let’s talk about some of these reasons pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood seem like the sh*t end of the stick.
Being pregnant sounds like the biggest bummer around to me, personally.
I am someone who uses my body in very active ways on a daily basis. I am someone who gets depressed when I am unable to work out daily due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, injury, or inclement weather (hence the reason I moved from Massachusetts to California). I know doctors say you can continue to exercise throughout pregnancy as long as it’s your normal routine, but I have seen plenty of women go through tough pregnancies where they were essentially bedridden. Even just the thought of morning (or in many cases, all-day) sickness gives me anxiety.
Plus, the entire time you’re growing a baby inside of you, your body is changing in ways that tend to make you at the very least feel … ungainly. I already sometimes feel this way in a yoga class if I eat too large of a lunch that day, so that definitely doesn’t excite me about pregnancy. Not to mention the fact that once you have the baby, your body is never the same again. Yes, I know that’s OK, but I struggle with that thought more frequently than I’d like to admit.
Childbirth sounds even worse.
Honestly, yikes! I’m expected to go to a hospital (which is not a place anyone really feels comfortable) and push a human out of my body while I’m surrounded by doctors and nurses I probably don’t know. It will be painful. Something else it could be is traumatizing. Especially if the hospital tries to convince you to go against your birth plan and induce labor or get an unplanned C-section, which, mind you, happens ALL THE TIME. Then after my body splits from front to butt, I’ll have to wear a diaper around until it heals up. Will I ever be able to look at my private parts the same way again?! Will my husband?! Yes, I know this is flawed thinking, and that I should think of childbirth as natural and beautiful; still, it’s difficult to ignore these realities.
Then you actually have to raise the kids.
Which seems OK. Except that, at various points throughout the kid’s life, you take on different roles to them, many of which seem truly boring to me. First, you’re a feeding tube, then you’re a bumper that deflects injury, then you’re a chauffeur until they no longer want you to take them anywhere, and then you’re their enemy for a while until they finally like you again, and at that point, parenthood seems pretty chill. Unless your kid ends up being an addict, severely depressed, unable to self-start, not a cool person, etc.
You’re probably thinking, wow, this woman definitely shouldn’t have kids if this is how she feels.
Except that’s not the only way I feel. Those feelings and thoughts of fear are equally matched by an idea that I may one day be a mother to two (probably) people who are smart, hilarious, weird, flawed, amazing, and mine (well, ours if I want to bring my husband into the fold here). And that weighs heavily against all my other feelings of fear, doubt, and anxiety.
So what should I do? (Someone please tell me what to do!)
For some reason, 33 has always been the age I thought it would happen, for personal and biological reasons. I figured I’d be ready to go by now. But I’m just not there yet. Ultimately, I can’t force something this giant on myself if the timing isn’t right. And by timing, I mean this mental block that still very much exists. Technically, the timing is ideal in so many other ways.
So I guess I need to let go of the idea that this is the age that it will happen (because I’d need to be pregnant by March to make it happen this year) and let myself walk a little bit further down this road of pondering before I make any rash decisions either for or against parenthood. If anybody has any foolproof advice for how I’m supposed to feel and what to do about this existential angst, feel free to hit me up. I’ll take all the help I can get.