By Guest Blogger Rebecca Longman
Throughout my teens and most of my 20’s, I prayed it wouldn’t happen– I took the proper precaution to make sure it wouldn’t happen. At 27, I thought I was ready, then the break-up came and I was glad it hadn’t happened. Then at 30, in a stable and happy relationship, I wondered if it would ever happen. Now, firmly into my 32nd year, married to the man who makes my world a better place, I’m starting to wonder whether I ever want it to happen.
Yep, you’ve guessed it; it’s babies.
So what changed?
If I believe the medics, I have about 2.5 years to safely have a child without too much concern. After that, my risk of having a down-syndrome child or me bleeding to death on the delivery table grows exponentially.
Parents are dropping regular – not so subtle – hints about us starting a family; friends are frequently asking about our baby plans, and loved ones are popping them out like they’re going out of fashion.
Just last week in the UK Daily Mail, a story emerged about a 34 year old woman who has struggled to conceive and is now worried that her biological clock is about to finish ticking and it’t too late to have a baby altogether.
The pressure from all angles is phenomenal.
I watch as family and friends teach, play with and nurture their little ones, and occasionally, when I least expect it, I have a pang of desire to do the same with my own children. I wonder if people see my heart melt a little and decide it’s the right time to ask about our family plans. The questions start and, as quickly as the motherly instinct arrived… it’s gone; that fleeting feeling of thinking ‘yeah that’d be kinda cool’ leaves me.
The poop, the milk sick, the constant crying, and that baby smell. Then, as they grow, the whinging, whining, and persistent questions start. Is this really how people want to spend their free time?
Yes, there’s the first time they smile at you, their first word, the first time they crawl and walk. Then there’s that feeling only made possible by that all-encompassing hug from a little person.
But I keep asking myself, is it enough?
I come away from spending time with other people’s kids and I feel drained emotionally and physically. Mothers seem to have it hardest. No-one can have her full attention for more than a few seconds before the baby needs feeding again. Even as they grow, they demand your energy at every waking moment. The two year old who writhes around on the floor refusing to put shoes on; I watch them play the game initially but after a few minutes I just want to say “put your f***ing shoes on!” The only thing that stops me is the fear of social exclusion from shouting at someone else’s kid.
I’m convinced that even just this means I would be a terrible mother. People say it’s different when they’re your own; but what if it’s not?
I like my me-time and with a child I’d have none of it; I’d have to become selfless. I wonder if it’s being an only child that makes this a difficult ask for me. Don’t mistake me, I love to share my time with others, but with the proviso that I can retreat once my energy is depleted. With a child, I’d have to give up this luxury.
Much like a dog, a child is not just for Christmas.
Studies suggest having children makes a person’s life no more fulfilled than not having children; it just makes it different. I think it depends on the person. Some of my friends and family craved having kids; I could see the desire in their eyes when they talked about making little people all of their own.
I’m still waiting for my heart to spark.
My mother says she still didn’t know if she wanted me even on the way into the delivery room; it wasn’t until I was born and she held me in her arms, that she knew she’d made the right choice. I’m not sure I’m prepared to go that far to find out.
I have constant questions whirring around in my head:
- Will my maternal juices start flowing at some point when I least expect them to?
- What if I make a decision not to have kids and at 40 and I wish I’d made a different one?
- What am I past the baby bearing age if not a mother? Am I just one of the women that chose a different path, or will people just assume we are incapable of producing offspring? Either way it would make me and us odd.
Who knows if my desires will change before the cruel cut off point, but right now I like my life, I like my freedom, and I love my family of two.
I’m not on the fence about that.
Rebecca Longman is a freelance employee engagement advisor and creative writer. She lives in London, England but is in the throws of a move to NYC. She has two blogs, the first explores the application of psychology in the workplace and can be found here: firstname.lastname@example.org. The second is City Girl Walking – adoptedlondoner.wordpress.com, where she shares the sights, smells and sounds she experiences as she explores the world.
Girls, what say you? I liked today’s post because it explores a completely different angle than we typically explore around here. The ‘on the fence’ question: Is it okay to not want kids? Who’s to say kids make for a happier life? Is it considered ‘selfish’ to not want to bring children into this world? Can’t a family be happy as a twosome? Who’s to say kids make a woman’s life complete? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And are you currently in this predicament where you love your life, sans enfants?