I have been married for almost 4 years. My husband and I do not have children as of yet (should we decide to do so). We moved into our condo a few months before we got married. We like it, it’s nice, we don’t have to worry about taking care of a yard or shoveling snow, which is always helpful. But eventually we would like our own house, property, grass, snow and all. Some of my friends are still single, some married, one engaged, one of the verge of engagement. Only a select few have children.
In theory, I would like to have kids. It would be fun to watch them grow and to observe childhood from a different perspective, to have someone to depend on when we grow old. But sometimes I am not sure I want to deal with the all-nighters, the lack of sleep, the feedings, the diapers, the toys and other paraphernalia all over the house, all the stuff you need just to go somewhere. I have never felt the urge to have children. I know plenty of women who “ooo” and “ahhh” over babies. I have never been one of them. I enjoy babies, I like babies, I hold babies and play with them. But I do not fall all over myself just to get a peek at one. I do not look into carriages as they pass me. Maybe my biological clock is broken, or maybe it just hasn’t started ticking yet. I don’t know. I like children; I’m just not sure I want them.
I hear all the time about how great being a parent is, how it’s an experience like no other, how it’s the most important job you will ever have in life. I get that. I don’t doubt any of it. I see the relationship between parents and children all the time, and while I may not have first-hand experience, I can understand and appreciate it. I have two nieces and a nephew that I would give my life for (some may say that it’s not nearly the same thing – I’m not saying that it is, but it’s the closest experience I have to offer). And I love them dearly. That doesn’t mean I want, or should have, my own. I often wonder if I’d even be a good mother. I’m too anal to parent correctly. I’d yell at them for not using a coaster under their sippy cup. Their need for a diaper change would interfere with my to-do list. And the unplanned events that come with children – forget it! I’m just kidding, of course. These things would not be a problem in the long run – you do what you have to do. It’s just thinking about them that make me want to hide under the bed. Trust me when I say that having children would be a challenge to my type A, almost clinical OCD personality (though when is it not a challenge?) – just acquiring a husband was something I had to get used to, another person who moved things and didn’t put things in their place. It was tough but I have let some things go, believe it or not (he makes the bed every morning and I – no longer – complain about how it’s done). Seriously. Yet, I think having children would be the best thing to calm me down – I’d have no choice but to go with the flow. It’s kind of an oxymoron, but there you have it.
Right now, I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of those who are married and those who have children. My husband and I have been married long enough that people are always asking when (not if) we’re having children (though to be fair, there were some people who asked that a month after our wedding). And sometimes it feels like the natural next step, to have children. But that’s not reason enough to have them. Among our family, we are one of the only married couples without children. Sometimes when we’re with family (and sometimes with friends who have children), I feel I have nothing to offer to a conversation. Most of the time, the talk is about the children – how they’re doing in school, what they are involved in, what their next step is. Great! But what can I add to that? A story about how my cat tore up the carpet in one of his crazy fits, running up and down the stairs at mach speed? Or about how once he left the litter box too early and trailed a mess behind him? I don’t think so. It’s not that people alienate me in conversation. They just talk about what they know. And as is the case with my friends from work, when together, you talk shop, you talk about the thing that takes up a good portion of your time. And for most people at this stage in my life it’s their children, something I cannot contribute to.
Since there are loads of children in our family, the newest being only two months old, it’s hard not to think about the future and whether or not we want children. I’ll be 32 this year – not old, not old at all, still in my prime even. But let’s face it; I’m not getting any younger. And my husband is several years older than me. So realistically, in terms of age and medical issues, it’s something we need to address, or at least consider addressing, and soon.
I’m not a huge future planner. I do write down goals I want to achieve during the year and events that will take place in a few months or so. But I don’t necessarily consider them “future” planning, at least not in the way that some might. I don’t have a 5-year plan. In fact, there isn’t much I plan beyond a year’s time, and that’s even long-term for me. I’m more of a day-to-day planner. I spend a lot of today’s time planning for things tomorrow to make my day run smoothly. I plan a week ahead of time for things that need to get done and places I need to be. That’s about it. I have a friend who is more of a long-term planner – she strategically planned every one of her pregnancies for various reasons. She has a goal of where she would like to be in 5 years’ time. That’s how she rolls. We just have different personalities. But I also think that watching my father suffer from a long-term debilitating disease has contributed to my lack of future planning as well as my need to control as much as possible since there is so much in life that is uncontrollable. It’s hard to plan that far down the road when you don’t know in what direction that road will go.
And maybe that’s what scares me so much about being a parent – a lot of what comes with that is uncontrollable, unpredictable. In the beginning of the year, I wrote about my goals for 2010. To be a bit more specific, one of them is to let go of some of the fear that comes with the unpredictable. I have done some things that point me in the right direction, though I still have a long way to go. I take comfort in what I can plan for and am trying to roll with the rest of it, something I have had a hard time with in the past. I tend to hold on to things fast and furious and pray they don’t change.
As for having children, only time will tell. And I’m not going to rush that decision. Some believe it’s selfish to not have children. I think it’s worse to have children when you know you don’t want them just because it’s what you’re “supposed to do.” In time, I know that I will recognize my choice when my heart and feelings tell me that I’m ready to decide.
In the meantime, I will keep on planning for my future, if only day by day.