On Wanting Children

Yesterday, I was walking through the mall on a ‘self-care’ mission. I was hoping to treat myself to a new outfit to wear to my birthday drinks that night.

As I was walked by the Build-a-Bear workshop, I saw a little blonde girl clutching her mother’s hand. She looked like a mini me – light blonde hair, blue eyes – and there was something in her demeanor that reminded me of myself. Now to preface, I see children out and about all the time, but this time felt different. I didn’t see her and think “Oh, so cute!” or give her a goofy wave like I sometimes do with adorable kids. This time, I felt a pang in my gut. I wanted to be clutching my daughter’s hand. I wanted that relationship.

This fear/sadness raced through my body as I walked passed the small girl and her mom. I worried that it wouldn’t happen for me, that this experience – such a huge, life changing one – would never be mine.

Maybe it’s having just turned 34, when my own mother had me. Or knowing that the clock is officially ticking…and much louder than it was at 29 or 31.

People tell me that I’m in control of this – that I can have kids on my own. Just this week someone asked me if I had a “male best friend” who I could ask to have a  child with. (I don’t.) And while I know I could go it alone, that’s not a realistic option for me. I don’t have much money, and truthfully, I still feel like a kid myself.

The hopeful side of me thinks it’s inevitable that I’ll have children. That’s how I’ve always looked at it anyway – that it’s somehow just going to happen. But as the time ticks by, I wonder – “is there more I could be doing?” “have I made the wrong choices in my life to lead me to this point?”

I do feel like I still have a solid 3-5 years to have a child, but I’m nervous. It seems like so much would have to change in my life for me to become a mother. I’d have to meet someone, have a stable career with a solid income, and my mental mindset would have to change so much.

But that’s how life is, I suppose. You’re changing in small ways every day but you don’t realize it, until years later, you look back and see how different you’ve become. Those small changes add up in a huge way.

Leaving the mall yesterday, I walked out into the atypical LA rain storm and tried to let the feelings wash away. I soothed myself with the gentle reminder that the universe has a way of aligning things for us.

What If You’re Ambivalent About Having Children?

When I should have paying attention to my professor in class this afternoon, I found myself riveted by this article in NY Mag, I Was a Proud Non-Breeder. I Changed My Mind by Michelle Goldberg. In the article, she talks about how she never wanted children and publicly declared so in an essay on Salon when she was 27 years old. But by the time she turned 35, her perspective started to shift. Her realization began this way:

“My own transformation didn’t begin with an unbidden outbreak of baby lust or a sudden longing for domesticity. It began, weirdly enough, when I learned about corpses becoming fathers. In 2011, I reported a piece for Tablet Magazine about the strange Israeli campaign for posthumous reproduction. Israel is the world capital of reproductive technology, and a legal group called New Family wanted to give parents who had lost adult sons the right to extract their sperm and create grandchildren. I have mixed feelings about making dads out of dead men, particularly if they hadn’t donated their sperm while living, but I remember being seized by the realization that if my husband were to die young, I’d want to be able to do it to him.”

How interesting that what sparked Goldberg’s shift towards the idea of possibly having children was other people’s inability to do so. This article got me thinking about my own feelings about having children. I’m not ambivalent per say, because I know I would like children eventually. But I don’t feel the urge right now, which is problematic being that I’m 33 years old. I feel like I want to accomplish more in Babiesmy career, and get further ahead before I bring a little one into the world. But I also fear that if I have a child before I’ve succeeded, I may resent my child for taking up my time when I could be writing and producing creative work.

Often times, I wish I had a very strong pull towards having children – one that would usurp all other purposeful pulls in my life. However, for now having children seems to rest in a more nebulous area of my ‘life wants.’ In two years, when I’m 35, my soon-to-be husband and I will have to start really diving into that nebulous area and make a solid plan.

So the tricky thing is, what do you do when you don’t feel an incredibly strong urge to have children, but you’re approaching your mid-thirties?

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