I'm at that stage in my life when many of the people my age are starting to have, or already have little babies kickin' around. People are starting to ask, "so... when you gonna start a family" In typical Sarah-style, I am reluctant to the change...
Do you ever think back to how you imagined your adult life as a teenager? Here's what I pictured: I imagined I lived in a old-fashioned house that was somewhat in disrepair, but perfectly decrepit. I had a creative type job, maybe even my own business, was impeccably dressed (I am working on that bit), wonderfully independent, went to dinners at fancy restaurants, and was able to generally do as I please.
Well, I'm practically there. Throw in a husband I never thought I'd have and a pug that is the light of my life and I am livin' the dream as they say.
As I get older (and by older, I only mean into my 30's, still just a wee lass!), I have to question, "Where do kids fit into the mix?" or "Do kids fit into the mix?"
I love my life right now, especially with the thought of taking the leap into full self-employment. I love being able to save money for the first time in my life. I love being able to fix up our house without too much financial stress. I love being able to eat out at nice restaurants whenever the desire hits. I love my independence, my time alone, being able to have nice things that bring me joy, the silence of my big old house... Dan and I do not have an extravagant life by any means, but we have a wonderful, simple life together.
I am just having the hardest time seeing where a kid fits into this picture. The idea of not having kids makes me feel horribly selfish for some reason, like I'm not fulfilling some kind of universal destiny. Also, everyone else is doing it! There is so much focus on a very idealized notion of motherhood and children in the news, gossip mags, blogs, the web, I almost want to not have kids because I feel like it is shoved down my throat every time I turn around.
I never wanted kids. I remember being a teenager, adamantly vowing that I would never have kids. My mark on the world would be through my career, through art, through who I am. Teachers, friends, older people in my life would say, "Oh, that will change as you get older, the clock will start ticking." I'll be 30 next year, and the only clock I hear ticking is the one that sounds like, "SO, ARE YOU AND DAN GONNA HAVE KIDS YET?"
Since I met Dan, who does want kids, I've entertained the idea of maybe having just One baby. Just One. Me, Dan, and Little One (and Oliver). One seems kind of cool. I can picture One. One gives you time to have a life. It's easier to find a 'sitter for One. One you can spoil and dote over. We could afford One. We could pay for One's college. When I brought up to friends and family that, "Yeah, you know, maybe we will start a family. Just One." I heard an overwhelming response "OH NO! YOU CAN'T HAVE AN ONLY CHILD!" Ugh... Goodbye One. I somewhat joke and I know that everyone's advice comes from a good, loving place, but it just made me think, I don't even have kids yet, this is just a glimpse of the type of judgement that mothers face. Why would anyone willingly subject themselves to that?
I joke a bit about not wanting to have kids, but the truth is, it's very difficult to talk about. We still have this deeply ingrained notion that women are natural born mothers. And it's just not true. A lot of women find fulfillment in places other than motherhood, just like some men are not fulfilled by careers, but by caring for children. However, I think more so for women than men, there is a societal feeling that there is something wrong with a woman if she doesn't have a desire to have children.
When I have asked for advice from friends and family, I usually get the same generalized, rather unhelpful response, "Once you have kids you'll see, your life will change, yadda yadda yadda..." What do you think? Anyone else out there not keen on the idea of kids (sticky hands! Milk everywhere!)? Who else is bothered by all of the judgement surrounding motherhood (you don't breastfeed your toddler supplementing with an all raw, organic diet of home-grown beets and kale?)? Does that turn you off of motherhood?
I'm not writing off having kids. Who knows, a year from now I could be gigantically pregnant and decorating a nursery. Or I could choose not to, and that's ok. I've never done anything in my life in any typical fashion... and I'm sure having (or not having) kids will be done in the same, dramatic, atypical flair.