Yes, No, Maybe to a Baby
By Kristen Flowers
A friend of mine recently announced that she was pregnant so I pulled out all those high school acting classes to make sure I freaked out in all the right spots. On my face was a giant smile but something deep down inside me was brewing and it was not excitement.
Of course, I was happy for my friend but I was sad for myself. My friend was so confident in her desire to become a mother and I wasn’t feeling as sure. In fact, both my husband and I were feeling this way. Since getting married, she couldn’t wait to get pregnant. Since getting married all my husband and I could focus on was buying and assembling a new giant tower for our three cats.
It’s time to say it, I don’t know if I want children.
I am so envious of the women in my life that know one-hundred percent that they do or do not want children. Several of my friends tell me they’ve, “just known their whole lives” they wanted kids. On the other end of the spectrum, a few of my gals have definitively decided they never want to be parents.
Stuck in the middle is me.
Since I was a child I was told that women can have it all but is that really true? There is no doubt in my mind that having a child would change my career trajectory. Having a morning show with my husband would be difficult to maintain and eventually I know I would either have to step down or move to another shift.
Even my goal of becoming a published author would have to be shelved (pun intended). There is simply not enough time in the day to work a full time job, write for several hours and take care of a child even with my husbands help.
Something has to give.
I have seen it first hand. A friend of mine was always the toast of the town. She taught a local yoga class, ran several clubs, started a non profit and sat on the board, wrote for a local magazine and had a budding media career. She wanted children and was happy when she got pregnant but I will never forget the look in her eye when she said, “it all has to change, doesn’t it?”
I checked in with her recently and her life looks very different. She passed off her non profit to someone else, still writes occasionally, no longer teaches yoga and she left her media job for an office job that works less hours.
But she is incredibly fulfilled.
That is terrifying to me because I am happy now but will I be even happier if a child entered the picture? It’s these types of questions that fill my head. What if I regret not having a kid and realize it’s too late? Shouldn’t I feel drawn to having a family? Why do I squeal when I see a kitten but not a baby? Who will be there when I am old? Why can’t I make up my mind?
It’s ingrained in women from a young age that motherhood is the norm. It’s a beautiful thing but something I never truly pictured for myself. I never thought about what my future children’s names would be or what they would look like. In fact, I never thought about children at all. Does that lack of imagination mean I always knew that children weren’t for me?
I have no idea.
The only silver lining is that I’m learning I’m not alone. More and more women are not making motherhood the goal and seem just as conflicted as me.
The best advice I have seen is that you should imagine your life with a child. What would it look like? I decided to try this experiment.
With kids I see toys on the ground, eating left over mac and cheese over the sink, pushing a little guy on the swings while he squeals and tiny arms wrapping around me for a hug.
Now, I think about the life I already have which is last minute weekend plans, seeing movies the weekend they come out, eating quiet dinners, European vacations and the possibility of opening an animal sanctuary.
Both have their pros and cons.
As I approach my mid-thirties everyone keeps telling me that if I do want kids I need to start working on it. Some articles even suggest going off birth control and “letting the fates decide” if you are on the fence. That kind of lackadaisical approach just doesn’t work for me.
So, my husband and I have come up with a plan. Starting now, we are going to babysit every chance we get, hold children when they are handed to us and talk to as many parents as possible. Then on our wedding anniversary we are going to have “the talk”. We will hash out how we both feel and see where we are then and make a decision, one we will stick with and let the burden of this decision melt away. If we decide that kids are in the future then they will be born knowing they were wanted. If we decide to carry on as a twosome then we will resign ourselves to that fact and never look back.
The important part is that we will have decided.
This approach is not for everyone. This is a unique plan created between my husband and I but I wanted to share it in case others were in our situation. If you are finding yourself confused about starting a family, let me tell you the one thing I have learned through this whole process:
It’s okay to decide not to have a family as it is okay to decide to have one. Don’t make decision based on what you or anyone else think you “have” to do or “should” do. No matter what you decide, you will be okay.