Babies, But Not Yet

As any of you who have read this blog before know, I struggle a lot with finding “purpose”; that career or lifestyle that will fulfill me and make all my wildest dreams come true. But while I have flopped back and forth in that arena almost constantly for the past, oh, decade or so, there is one thing in my life that I have always been 100% certain about: motherhood. I love kids. I even love other people’s kids (it is why I choose to work with them). I have never wavered on my desire to have children of my own.

Since I got married, my desire to have children has intensified exponentially (who knew my biological clock was so sensitive to socially acceptable context for procreation?). My ache to have children has gotten to the point where it is a constant companion, but intense enough that it is a struggle to handle it every day. My cousin, who is one of my best friends, is the same age as me and has two children, and there are days when I burn with jealousy over that. When I am driven to distraction by the need to have a baby of my own in my arms.

But then again…there, too, are days when I am driven to distraction by my need to travel the world, to write many novels, to start my own business. To live in Melbourne, Australia, to laze on the beaches of Thailand, to work on an organic farm in Hawaii.

For a long time, I felt like life plateaued after the age of 30. When making decisions, I would often think, “But will I be done and established by the time I am 30?” Like there was no way for me to change my mind or start anything new after that age. Like 30 was the magical number whereby I would have had to make all of my decisions and forever live with the consequences.

I have since changed my mindset on that. I am fairly certain that I will be changing my mind and trying new things for the rest of my life, and so I am not quite so obsessed with the threshold of 30. With that shift has also come the shift in thinking about kids. I used to believe that my desire for children at a relatively young age (I want to start having kids before – ha – 30), meant that I would have to opt out of a lot of things. Of course, having kids changes things. It changes your priorities, your time commitments, your whole life. But it does not mean that you have to give up on everything else that you have ever desired. There are plenty of people who travel the world with their children, or pursue high-powered careers, or launch their own businesses. Just as life does not plateau after 30, it does not plateau after children either.

I know that we are not ready for children yet. Financially, that would be disastrous. Emotionally and mentally, we just aren’t there. I would like to enjoy a few years of marriage just the two of us. I would like to do some hardcore traveling without a child strapped to my back. I would like to selfishly explore my own wants and needs. I’d like to sleep in on the weekends and go out with friends until the wee hours and pick up and head to the mountains at the last minute just because we feel like it. I would like to get to know myself – and Bryan – a little bit better outside the context of parenthood.

The torch of my longing for children is the brightest and longest burning of all the torches that I carry. It will burn for a little while longer, while I pursue the other ones that flicker in the background, begging, too, for my attention.

 

Babies, But Not Yet

One Stripe

I remember my first pregnancy “scare.” It was scary; we have never yet been in a place in our lives where a baby would not mean near financial ruin and probably poverty, not to mention hitting pause on a whole lot of dreams we’ve got percolating. But it was more than that, too. It was a labyrinth of emotions, including fear, anxiety, tentative excitement, and a strangled kind of hope.

I walked around for several days in a haze of sick worry. I wrote a letter to the potential baby in my belly. I agonized.

I vividly recall the walk to the grocery store to buy a pregnancy test. The hot sun on my face, the weird unreality of the world around me, like that feeling when you’re a little buzzed and everything seems a little more like living inside a TV show rather than real life. I remember pacing anxiously, waiting for the three minutes to end. I remember the one stripe: not pregnant.

And I remember the crushing disappointment that flooded in after the relief.

This wasn’t just dodging a bullet, it was also the denial of something that I have always, always been sure I wanted. Now was not the time for a squirming infant with alien toes and unbearably soft hair and that indescribable baby smell. Now was not the time for sleepless nights and diaper changes and the entire restructuring of who I am and my place in the world. But being told that I wasn’t going to have that after half-believing I would was devastating in a way that I could barely comprehend.

I remember sobbing on Bryan’s shoulder, unable to control myself.

The desire to have children is something that I carry around in my chest every day, something that is sometimes so intense it’s suffocating. So intense it is a physical sensation of want. I don’t know where to put it. We are nowhere near ready to add children to our lives, and yet the want – the need – doesn’t fade with that logical knowledge. I can put it out of my mind for a while, but it always comes surging right back.

Some day.

Some day.

One Stripe