This week’s prompt (dug from the archives): Do I want a baby?
Every year in high school, some well-meaning guidance counselor would paper our desks with thought-provoking questionnaires determined to map out our future. What do you want to study? What subjects do you enjoy? Are you a group or individual learner? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? What do you envision yourself doing at 30?
My answers were always the same: Writing. Writing and art. Individual. In college. Working and married. Writing and illustrating books, married with two kids.
Two weeks after I graduated college, I got married. I was 21 years old.
And I had no doubts, no fears. It was the best decision I ever made. I was in love and dizzy with hope for the future.
When I started my job at Primetime, my buddy Libby and I bonded over the fact we wanted puppies, not children. While I wanted children eventually, Ben and I had other plans. We wanted to pay off our house, stash away some cash, travel and live for awhile.
The only Babies I wanted had two wiggling tails and hot puppy breath.
”We’ll start trying around 27,” Ben said, and I agreed. 27 was years away. Eons away. I’d be a responsible, adult mature woman by then. By 27, I’d be able to hear tales of ripping and tearing during birth stories without screaming and covering my ears or looking at a child as something more than another creature to care for that, unlike my current Babies, screamed and would not be amused my my lengthy gym visits or random trips to the pool.
Then I turned 27. Ben turned 28. Everyone from the grocer to my father-in-law wanted to know why my stomach was still flat and my hands weren’t pushing a stroller. ”You’re not a career person,” one friend told me. ”It’s not like you’re wanting to climb the corporate ladder. So why aren’t you pregnant?”
It would be easy to be offended. It would be easy to be wailing and gnashing my teeth, revealing how we tried and tried and couldn’t or whirl around and spout my right to independence from childbearing. But instead, I just smiled.
The only thing I ever wanted in my life was to marry a man I loved and have puppies. Everything else is a blessing. I don’t deserve to have books published, I don’t deserve to paint, I don’t deserve to have babies. If I’m lucky enough to do so, then there’s only one person to thank for that. And even though I’ve plotted fun Christmas activities to do and have a running list of baby names and rules for governing their behavior, I know it’s no guarantee. But on some days, when I look at Ben’s eyes crinkling as he smiles, all I can think is, “If anyone deserves a kid, it’s him. And I want to give him that. I want us to have a family.”
On the same hand, I can’t lie and say I’m not worried, that I don’t fret about a child “taking over my life.” I know I’ll be the one doing the majority (all) the childcare because Ben’s busy providing. I understand my luxurious lengthy gym visits and hours writing and painting will be slashed. Instead of spontaneity, I’ll have responsibility. Instead of creativity, I’ll have spit up and dirty diapers and sleepless nights.
But after I got laid off and spent two years fighting with myself, trying to fight my creative urges to paint and write and dream, I learned I can’t control what happens. And lately, I’m loving following my gut and going with the flow. So instead of worrying about basal temperature charts and fertility drugs, I’m just letting what happens happen.
If you’re a mom, when did you know you wanted a baby? If you’re not a mom, when did you know you wanted to stay child free?