Re: kids

August 25, 2016 by NJPainter

B & I (…mostly I) get asked a lot; ‘when are you having kids?’
Oddly enough, the majority of the people asking are men.
The implications here are so obvious that I won’t even bother writing them.
Women know better. Women say; ‘are you thinking of having kids?,’ if they ask at all.

I have always been on the fence about this. And I am lucky to be married to someone who feels exactly the same way. We wrestle with it, together. We laugh at our untethered fortune when we watch toddlers have meltdowns in the middle of the grocery aisle and then we talk at length about how sad it would be to turn 60 and think, “we should have done that.”

I find that most of the women my age (32) are more in the “trying” or “definitely someday” or “no, that’s not for me” categories. I talk to a lot of women about this and, I’ve really only come across a handful that still don’t know.

“You’re young!,” I also hear, constantly. But 32 isn’t that young to be without a decision.
I am definitely in the age bracket where my gynecologist has started to make gentle suggestions about “discussing it with my partner” because a pregnancy that would be “high-risk” is only 2 1/2 years away.

I engage every single woman friend I have about this, all the time. I ask them how they deal things that seem hard or what’s changed for them and how much their daycare costs. And what always surprises me is the ease with which women who have or will have kids, approach all the things that turn me off about it. You’re all so wonderfully pragmatic on a level that I don’t know I’d ever reach.

I can’t tell if that is a good sign; that your mind shifts as soon as your accept your role into motherhood… or if it’s a sign that I wasn’t built for it. That these ‘turn-offs’ are a big, huge, flashing sign that says TURN AROUND.

My concerns are this…

I love my relationship with my husband.
“Everything changes” is the widely accepted mantra that every new parent repeats to me. I am sure some changes are positive and relationship-building, and that you see all kinds of things about your partner that you never saw before. But I know this is a two-way street. I know that when you’ve had no sleep and you completely disagree with the way your spouse just parented, things like humor and kindness and patience for socks that have been left on the floor go out the window. It’s not that I’m scared of everything changing. It’s that I’m very keenly aware of how much I love the way it is right now.

Time
I really, really value making coffee and reading and meditating and indulging in silence before B gets up. I love quiet time, a lot.
I know nothing about motherhood, but I know that this is not how my friends with kids describe their mornings. Sometimes B and I get home from work, give one another an exhausted look and say aloud, while collapsing, “can you imagine if we had a baby to take care of right now?”
When I start to think of the daily fight to get another person out of bed/do their homework/ eat something nourishing… I shut down. I don’t know how anyone has the energy for it.

Travel
Traveling is the reason, aside from food & shelter, I work the job that I do. I love that we are nimble and always looking forward to where we’re going next. I love that we can afford to do it often and that I have the luxury of day-dreaming about it on a constant basis. It’s a priority in my life. I know parenthood doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t ever do this again, but…

Having a savings account is real nice.
Daycare in the part of the world we live in costs anywhere from $1,000 – $1,700 a month depending on how far from the city you’re willing to go.
I find this completely baffling. I honestly don’t know how anyone is keeping their lights on.

I like my body.
It may come off snide when I say this. And do not get me wrong: a body that makes another human being is amazing and powerful! But I can’t tell you I wouldn’t be sad if my yoga arms went away. I work really hard to stay fit and when new mothers describe (with the kind of honesty that makes me want to buy them lottery tickets and follow them throughout their day with an Olympic flame) their raw nipples, stretched stomachs and hair loss, I just think the whole process is very unfair.

Self-love is a daily struggle for me.
Every day, I have to consciously be kind to myself. I have a tendency to feel like I don’t fit in, like I’ve said all the wrong things, that my worth and capabilities and confidence are very small. I am hard on myself. And I can see that having a child doesn’t always bring out the best version of you. I wrestle with imaging how I would handle that. Parenting seems to require a confidence that you are always making the right decisions and doing your very best – even when you’re probably not. What makes me qualified for this job when some days I feel I’ve barely got a grasp on myself?

Does the world need another person in it?
People sort of roll their eyes at this one but for me, it’s a real factor. I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom but we are failing this planet. Literally. And we live in a world where Zika and terrorism and bullying and drugs and vaccination debates and gun control and convincing people that black lives matter and that a woman is actually smart enough to be president are all a rampant part of parenthood.

And finally, if I’m being very honest, a lot of kids are annoying.
We have all met that kid. The kid who makes you never, ever want to have your own kids.
And millennials. I hate to make generalizations but they are self-entitled whiners whose parents still pay for everything.
I am simply uninterested in adding to that group of people.
Even if you don’t want to helicopter-parent an indulgent kid, how does your own kid survive in a world where everyone else is?

………………….

As I type this, I think: Nope. No thank you. Probably not for me.

And yet… this is one of life’s funny things that makes no sense & keeps tugging at you anyways.

The advice that keeps the door open for me is this…

“I hated other people’s kids, but genuinely enjoyed my own.”

“You’d figure it out, everyone does.”

“Your schedule, your bank account and your relationship adjusts.”

“No matter if it’s something you love or something you hate, everything is a phase. It will pass by quickly.”

Maybe I sound selfish. Maybe some of you are reading this and giving me a knowing-chuckle and thinking to yourselves “she shouldn’t.” Maybe you skimmed all the way down because my all of my concerns are cliché. But this, like marriage, is not something I am willing to enter into without examining from all angles. Trust me, I am envious of all the people who have always known whether it was a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for them.
So for us, for now, it’s not “when we’re ready,” it’s “when we decide.”
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