That's For The Future And The Future Is Now

When I was born, I had the cord wrapped around my neck five times. On New Year's Eve, eight months pregnant, my mother had been lying on the sofa, Blondie loud on the stereo on the last night of the seventies. As big as a watermelon, or maybe bigger, I was dancing around inside her, the outline of my tiny fists punctuating the skin of her stomach while my mother watched in wonder. At a crescendo, I jumped, flipping around violently like a porpoise getting tangled up in seaweed. Debbie Harry made me do it.

My mother spent the first six weeks of the new decade on bedrest in the hospital; I was all turned around and in the wrong place. The medical students came by every day and took turns guessing where my head was. When I was born, my mother woke from the anaesthetic and turned to my father. "We've got a little girl," he said, because of course you couldn't know beforehand then.

***************************

I have been thinking a lot about babies recently. Not surprising, really: I'm thirty, I'm married, for the first time in my life I have a spare bedroom. Haven't I always wanted babies? Well, sure, but in the future. When we're older. When we're richer. When we're grown-ups. Don't you think Jeter would be an awesome name for a baby? Ah, so maybe not quite yet then.

It is common, I hear, to have an urgent, powerful need. It is common to have a delineating and delineated point in one's life where one says that's it, I'm ready, let's do this thing. It is not so common, as far as I can tell, to go backwards and forwards, wavering like a tree in the wind, setting a start date and pushing it back, trying not to buckle under the weight of the relief when you do.

Or maybe it is, but nobody tells you. This isn't like choosing a sofa or buying a house; it isn't even like getting married. Reversible, all of them: none of them forever. But this is forever. Foreverandeverandever. Are you sure? You can't even choose a cereal at the grocery store! Cooing over tiny onesies at Baby Gap isn't the same as tossing them in the washing machine night after night when they're covered in rancid puke.

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows / here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud. My fear is that I will change my mind. My fear is that it will change my life. My fear is that I will never sleep again and I like to sleep, oh god, I really like to sleep. My fear is that I am selfish. My fear is that I might not be as good at this as my mother. My fear is that I might not be good at it at all.

How do you know? When do you know? Did you know?

181
Jen
Nov 11, 2010

Honestly, you don't know. I mean, we decided YES WE ARE READY, WE KNOW WE CAN DO THIS. But really, we had no freaking clue what we were getting ourselves into.

And that's the best part, actually. You DON'T know what it will be like. It's crazy and insane and exhausting and amazing and fun and ridiculous. We've done it twice. Wouldn't change a thing.

(Though yes. I miss sleep. Cannot wait until this second baby starts sleeeeppppinngggg...!!!!)

182
Sensibly Sassy
Nov 11, 2010

I am so with you on this. I always think that when I am "an adult" I will decide whether or not I want to have a baby. BUT, I am 26 and I know I still have some time but I am closer to having to make that decision than I am farther from it. I know this isn't eloquent but, gah, I hear you.

183
Julienne
Nov 12, 2010

You will probably be crap at it. You are a self-absorbed, solipsistic, selfish bitch.

184
Caroline
Nov 12, 2010

Newsflash Julienne (are you really named after a slicing technique?): EVERYBODY in this world is self-absorbed, solipsistic and selfish. Especially you, for thinking that you have the right to come to someone else's blog and try to ruin her day with your ugliness.

Anyway, the mere idea of procreation is, in effect, rather self-absorbed and selfish in the first place -- MY genes must be passed on, I have to be made immortal somehow, etc. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Obviously your lives will change in a million different ways. You & Sean might try talking through some of those changes and how you would handle them. For example, will you both go back to work? Will one of you stay home? How will you handle the drop in income due to either one of you cutting hours/staying home and/or child care fees? Division of labor? Spiritual upbringing? Educational decisions? Talking through things like that now can help you come to the decision of timing.

185
Willow
Nov 12, 2010

i knew and i was scared and unprepared..... and it changed my life. my son. he changed me and my outlook and my priorities and my body and my entire universe forever. and i never ever Ever EVER want to ever go back to the time before i was scared and unprepared..... i look at him and SEE him and know he was meant to be my son and i was meant to be his mother.

186
kate
Nov 12, 2010

snaps to Caroline. actually, a standing ovation.

187
Twice Five Miles
Nov 12, 2010

You will never know. Not 100%, not truly. It's not like a light switch that is "on" or "off."

But I can guarantee you this: If you do it, and when you meet that little person for the first time, you will understand what all the fuss is about.

I thought I knew what love was, and then I had my son and realized I had never had the slightest clue about love. Not love like this. This is different.

188
Theresa
Nov 12, 2010

I don't know how anyone knows when or if they want to have kids. I'm 29, married 4 years. My friends are having babies left and right. Everyone keeps asking when are we going to have kids? I look at my life right now, with my husband and my dog, and I don't feel like it's missing anything. I'm happy with my life just the way it is. Parenting is hard work, so I feel like if I were going to have kids I should really, really want them. Like I really, really wanted a dog for years before I got one. But at this point in my life, I don't really want kids or even just plain want kids. I watch my friends with their babies and while I'm genuinely happy for them and can say yes, those are adorable kids, I don't find myself wanting to be in their shoes or have what they have. For now, I'm taking that as a sign that babies are not for me.

189
simon
Nov 12, 2010

Wow. Julienne sounds like the kind of person I'd like to date.

I that light, I now present a short one-act play that I've entitled :"Simon and Julienne Decide What to Have For Dinner."

Dramatis personae:

Simon: a 35 year old male, known for his easygoing interpersonal style
Julienne: a female of unknown age, with a flair for alliteration

Scene: A city street – characters are looking for a place to eat.

J: I was thinking of pizza for dinner. What do you think?

S: I think I'd rather go out for burgers.

J: Simon, you are a selfish, unthinking pig and you deserve to be impaled and drowned in a bucket of your own vomit.

S: Darling, didn't you forget to use alliteration? It is, after all, your strong suit.

J: Simon, even though I don’t know you very well, I choose to make sweeping generalizations about your entire character and personality, and do so in a public forum. I only use alliteration in writing. It's much easier that way.

S: Hon, don’t you think that maybe you should get to know me before you make such a judgement about me?

J: No.

Fin.

190
bec
Nov 12, 2010

Echoing what most others have already said. When my husband and I first started dating, he never wanted to have children, and I couldn't fathom it! How could you not?! Then he changed his mind and we got married, and years passed, and suddenly he wanted a child and sooner than later. And all of a sudden every doubt you mentioned was filling my head. What if, and how could we and etc.

We're now parents to a 22-month-old boy who is simply one of the best people I have ever had the pleasure to know. His belly laugh is pure joy, and I can't imagine never having heard it. That's not to say it hasn't been hard, because it is, to a greater or lesser extent every single day. Some days I wonder why we did it, but the vast majority of the time I feel like this is the best decision we've ever made.

Recently, my husband agreed that it would be nice to have another (something I'd been pressing for), and I'm all freaked out all over again. I guess the bottom line is that the timing is never perfect, and it never feels like you're ready, but you can and do figure out how to make it work. And it's so, so worth it.

191
Other Holly
Nov 12, 2010

I worried and tried to plan because being the person I am I thought maybe it was something I could pencil it into the calendar for the exact perfect date. But then I couldn't pick a perfect date, couldn't decide which would be the most convenient month of the year. And then I just decided, that's it, I'm not going to to try to control this thing. I know I want babies sometime, so I threw the pills away and am letting God decide. Nothing yet, but there is something wonderful in the not knowing.

192
marymuses
Nov 12, 2010

I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but even so, when it was really happening, I had all those same feelings you are having. I had done all this paperwork for our adoption and was fully committed to this little girl whose photo was right in front of me every day, but I still had fears about the way life would change. I was particularly worried about sleep. And you know what? Six weeks into it, I do miss sleeping the way I used to, but I just love my daughter so much that it doesn't really matter. She is truly a gift, and what I have been able to give to her as a mother fills my heart to overflowing.

You will be a good mother, Holly, if you do indeed decide to become one. Don't let that worry you; you will follow in your mother's footsteps brilliantly. The women I know who have amazing mothers have become amazing mothers themselves. You'll do just fine.

193
Jenn A.
Nov 13, 2010

We are in a similar place, except I am about to turn 32. We have been going back and forth over the past year about it. My husband wants to know everything about a major decision before we make one-you mean there are no spreadsheets for babies? HA.

Good luck with your decision! Or your indecision, but your action.

194
Alecia
Nov 14, 2010

I was unsure and I have an 18-month old daughter now and it was absolute the best decision we ever made! It changes your life but 110% for the better. We are working on Number #2 right now (16 weeks pregnant) because it was so fun the first time, truly. And I really thought children would cramp our style, and they do a bit, but it is so completely worth it.

195
meredyth
Nov 16, 2010

I just finished reading Anne Lamott's book (for the second time) Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year. I think you should read it. Her sense of humor and decision making process sounds a little like yours.

There's this one great passage on pg. 80 of my copy where she says "I had these fears late at night when I was pregnant that I wouldn't be able to really love him... that half the time I'd feel about him like he was a Pet Rock and half the time I'd be wishing I never had him. So there must have been some kind of a miracle. I never ever wish I hadn't had him."

And this is after going through colic, poopy diapers and so many other things as a single mom. I'm sure you'd be great. And plus, you have a husband who can renovate kitchens!

196
Megan
Nov 16, 2010

It's doubt wrapped in doubt. It has nothing to do with intuition or liking children or being able to envision yourself as a mother. It's both personal and political...and financial. But mostly personal. So everlovingly lonely.

(preface all of that with "For me...")

197
Megan
Nov 16, 2010

Also, there are so many comments to read through, but so far, so many of them are from mother saying, "Of course you'll be a great mom! Of course." Like, given the decision, that's the only outcome.

But where are the women who didn't have children? The women in their 50s who are married or not who decided not to have children? Not those who couldn't or "forgot" to have children, but women who, in their child bearing years, sat down thoughtfully and said, "I'm not going to have children." Where are they? Seriously! Because I want to find them. There are so few celebrated role models.

198
Sonya
Nov 17, 2010

Think of it this way: children = a continuous kitchen remodel project.

199
lilpunk
Nov 17, 2010

nothing ever really prepares you for motherhood. but the fact that you are even thinking about all the challanges of it is a key step in preparing you for it. when it happens, the beginning is going to be tough...but then one day, all of a sudden, it all becomes second nature. you'll see.

200
anna
Nov 18, 2010

Megan, (I posted earlier- I am in the No-Children-Camp)

My boyfriend has a great-aunt who does not have any children. I find her an inspiration. She and her husband still cuddle and flirt like they were 20 years old.They adore their neices and nephews (and great-neices-and-nephews) and they are wonderful,creative,giving people.
I look to her as one of my role models when I am feeling a bit alone in my decision. I agree, there aren't enough women out there who speak freely of a child-free life. (Again, I think societal pressures play a large part in that silence.)
I would love to hear from those women as well.

201
Liz
Nov 18, 2010

For the longest time I thought I didn't want to have kids. I thought I was too selfish, didn't want to give up anything, didn't want to have anyone need me, wasn't sure I had enough to give to a little being, and didn't think I even liked kids enough to be a parent.

After a few years I realized that, yeah, maybe I did want a baby. Not that I define myself by having a kid (well, 2 now) but it got to a point where I was tired of being selfish and began to feel like there could be so much more.

It's not this way for everyone, but I will tell you that yes, there is so much more. And it is wonderful and incredible and amazing and so worth it.

You won't sleep. I haven't read a book in 2 years. I can't go anywhere without telling someone (usually my 2.5 year old daughter) and everything for me is put to the wayside. But I wouldn't want it any other way.

Also, let me say that dogs are not a good precursor for kids. Totally different needs.

(You like cats. Do you want my 2 cats? They are 12 and sweet and need a good, loving home without dogs.)

202
Tracy
Nov 19, 2010

This is a tough one. When my husband and I got married, we were both on the same page...no kids for us. End of discussion. I had been an au pair for a year, and decided I just didn't want that kind of responsiblity! It's not that we didn't LIKE kids, we just didn't NEED kids.

But then life happened...and I got older...and honestly I think my turning point is when I went to an estate sale (in my mid-thirties at this point), and saw a wedding dress and wedding pictures for sale. It made me so unbelievably sad...nobody wanted her wedding dress. Nobody treasured those pictures...their family tree ended there.
The problem was, my husband was still "no kids for us", and I was "hmmm...maybe we should discuss this again".
5 years later, he finally agreed to try, only to find out, I'm infertile, and now I'm 40, and I feel like all that time was wasted.
If you even think you might want to some day...sooner is better than later. In my humble opinion.

203
Beth
Nov 22, 2010

I'm about the same age as you are, and have been pondering the children issue for a while. I'm very much on the fence/leaning toward childfree living for a variety of reasons.

I just thought I'd add that it's okay just to be married and enjoy that for a while, societal pressure be damned. My parents were married for NINE years before they had me, went on lots of trips/adventures, and were very ready for me. I don't think they ever had any regrets, because they got to have it both ways: lots of time to be a couple, work on their house, and have fun, and then the maturity and financial footing to handle having a child.

204
Gemini-Girl
Nov 23, 2010

There is never a "right time" if you wait for it, it will never come. I decided that 25 was the right age for me, and tried until my twins were bron via ivf at 26. It feels great to be a young-ish mom (I'm 29 now).. and the anticipation is out of the way at this point.
Those little people (and by little people I mean children) bring so much joy into your life. It's amazing how funny they are. I dont remember how I entertained myself before they were born.
Anyway, my point is: it's never the right time, so just go with your gut.

205
Kath
Nov 23, 2010

I'm the oldest of 5 and we're all 11 months apart.

I helped care for all of my siblings and I knew...KNEW...at age 8 that no way did I want kids.

I've stuck to that decision thru the years...turned down several marriage proposals due to my stance...and I've never been happier. I've never regretted my decision.

Sleep and I are BFF's. So is Freedom. Disposable income. The ability to go where I want when I want. Peace & quiet. Sanity.

Most people that have kids are going to tell you it's wonderful and not to be missed...how could they tell you differently?

Good luck with your decision :-)

206
Sara
Nov 30, 2010

"In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another." - Self Reliance. Thank you for putting so eloquently what so many of us feel. From a struggling married 29 year old!

207
Michelle
Dec 01, 2010

Wow, I've been going through the same though process, for 3 years. Thank you for letting me know that I'm not the only one.

208
Jenny Lauck
Dec 03, 2010

In that all three of mine were uh, surprises, I can honestly say that I couldn't have ever made the decision to become a parent, because MAN, that is so heavy.

I'm so happy that fate intervened (and a whole bunch of wine that one time - or okay, twice) and made the decision for us.

I remember trembling at the hospital after my oldest was born, realizing that there would never be a day EVER for the rest of my life that I wouldn't be responsible for the life of another human being. I spent about an hour quietly freaking out, but then it dawned on me that as much as I didn't know about being a parent, this kid didn't know anything about being a baby, either, and we were both winging it.

We're still winging it, two siblings later, and you know, it's pretty awesome. Even with the bershon.

209
Agata
Dec 15, 2010

I don't know if still read those or not but I just checked in (mostly to see if you already decided on the baby thing, honestly) and had to write.
I was the same. Wanted and not. Terrified what if I changed my mind.. And then afraid that by the time I make up my mind it will be too late for me.
The worst thing was that we were so happy together. Married for 5 years (I married at 27), traveled the world, enjoying our life with dog and two cats. I had something too lose here. What if I don't like it. We started talking babies year and a half ago. Decided to stop preventing it "next year", then thought why actually wait a whole year. I closed my eyes and jumped. I got pregnant right away. I was still uncertain sometimes but there was no turn around. I loved being pregnant. Loved every minute. On the day he was born, on the way to the hospital (planned c-section) I wanted to cancel the whole thing and just keep going, pass the hospital and drive away, just the two of us. And then he was born. That first evening in the empty hospital room after all the visitors had left and my husband went home to feed the dog and cats I felt so lonely. And then I looked at that tiny being with huge eyes and skinny arms and thought that he must be petrified. Everything he knew was gone. I was his only familiar thing. All he had to hold on to was me. I can't explain the love you feel. Nobody can. Nothing else matters, your own fears are suddenly irrelevant. All you want is to make him feel safe and loved and wanted and protect him from all harm. He is 6 months old now and I love every minute with him. Yes, I still get up couple times every night but I found out that sleep is overrated. Never thought it would happen. Our life has changed but not as I thought it would. We do the same things, it is just the three of us now. We hike with our dog and Little Man strapped to my chest, we went on vacation when he was only 3,5 months and enjoyed it greatly. Going to Europe next year to visit my family.(Babies fly for free first two years!).
I keep saying that if I knew that babies are so much fun I would have had them much earlier. I loved my life before, I did a lot of the stuff i always wanted to do, I have things and degrees I am proud of. And yet that feeling when he falls asleep in my arms after being tired and couldn't quite do it on his own, gives me the fullest satisfaction I have ever felt.
What I am trying to say is that it probably won't be the way you think it will. But you will be OK. It will be better than OK. It will probably be fantastic.
I totally understand people who don't want to have kids, I know how happy you can be without them. One is not better than the other, just totally different. You don't have to sacrifice yourself, you can still be you, just with a child. Happy mothers have happy babies.
I think you will be great at it, Holly. I think that people who suck didn't even ask them self that question, ever.
And the good thing is that if you decide not to have children you will just stay happy the way you are right now, you won't know what you are missing out on, so it simply won't matter to you.
I love how honest you are.

210
Dana
Dec 31, 2010

I could have written this myself. I feel exactly the same. And I too had a cord around my neck, minus the Blondie music and bed rest for my mum.

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