Things are about to get real here today. I’m a little nervous writing about this topic, but after a conversation I just had with a close friend I feel it is very important. People often tell me I look young and while I find that flattering, the reality is I am a 34 year old woman who needs to decide if she wants to have a baby. I don’t need to figure it out today, but I need to get the ball rolling in that direction.
My partner wants to have a child at some point in the future. I am not sure if I do. Boom. I wrote it. Already so many feelings are coming up. Sadness. Confusion. Shame. Heartache. Resistance. Guilt. Fear.
It’s so hard to write about this, I feel like I’m a bad person, like something is wrong with me because I don’t have that “mom” gene that many people I know have. I don’t daydream about babies. When I think back to my childhood I don’t remember a time that I dreamed of having a family of my own. And I played with a lot of dolls…. as if that even means anything. Somehow I want it to.
Many friends my age have what they describe as a biological feeling, a deep desire to create a family with a partner and child. They feel is it part of their legacy as women and long for the joys and stability of that kind of family life. I don’t share those desires. Sometimes I feel like I am less of a woman because of it. Our culture celebrates the ideal woman role model as a self-less mother and even if we don’t buy into it, the idea is there, lingering in our subconscious. There is this unspoken expectation that women should want kids and they are cold or detached if they don’t. There is something wrong with them and therefore I think at times there is something wrong with me.
I love what I do for a living. I’ve always been very driven to create, connect and share. In many ways it’s why I feel I was brought into this world. The majority of my life has been about self-expression as a way to support others to grow, find inspiration and heal. This might sound selfish but it is challenging for me to imagine letting go of that for a child. Of course I see and know women that have successful careers and families. It’s isn’t either/or, it’s isn’t black/white.
Underneath all of this is the fear that being a mother won’t bring me as much joy as working with others. And when I follow that fear through I see how transparent it is. I love children. I am really good with them and always have been. What scares me is that I could some how mess up my own child. What scares me is that I haven’t worked through enough of my issues and that they will be passed down to them. What scares me is the depth of the bond is between mother and child and my ability to handle it.
Aside from all of my worries there is a very real question at hand in my relationship: Do I want to have a baby? My entire life that answer has been a firm no. It wasn’t a subject I spent any time thinking about, it was a no and that was the end of the story. In my past relationships it never really even came up. None of the people I was with long-term wanted a family in that way so it wasn’t something I felt I needed to explore since I had already made up my mind.
Today it is a different story. I am in a relationship with someone I love dearly. He would be an amazing father, there are no doubts in my heart about that. We have such an incredible relationship and I can picture myself with him for many years down the road. He wants a child. When we talk he tells me he feels that a child is an expression of love between two people. In a cosmic and spiritual sense it is a tangible product of our love for each other. There is a part of me that loves the sound of that and can see how creating a child in some ways an ultimate form of intimacy. And then the fear kicks in. I wonder how our relationship will change if another life comes into the picture. Mostly I worry if I will even like being a mom. How can I know?
This is such a loaded subject and the conversations have been hard for me and I am sure for him as well. In this moment it doesn’t feel like a firm no and it hasn’t felt like a firm no since we started this conversation last year. While I am not ruling it out of the picture, I am not jumping for joy at the idea either. I am coming to terms with the fact that I have a lot more work to do in this area than I care to admit.
It’s vulnerable to admit I am unsure about having a child. It’s easy to feel like there is something wrong with me because I don’t feel like many of my friends do. While they long for children and family time I dream of writing books, traveling and leading workshops on self-care. It’s that basic rule of compare and despair. We are all different and I have to remember that. Talking with a close friend this morning made me feel so much better because she gets it. She’s in the same boat as I am. It was such a relief to know I am not alone in my uncertainty of being a mother.
I also had a very healing and powerful conversation with my mother yesterday that brought me a lot of insight. We talked about my concerns and fears and she reminded me there are things in my past that I need to learn to let go of. And by letting go she meant not allowing my sadness and fear around those situations determine whether or not I want to have a child. That hit me so hard. There is a great deal I need to continue to forgive myself for and this is the first step towards being free enough to make a thoughtful decision. Our conversation also reminded me that our deepest wounds are our greatest sources of strength.
Today I am beginning the process of unpacking all of my feelings around having a child. To be honest I am afraid of what will surface but I trust that this is part of my journey. I know Jason was brought to me for many reasons and this is one of them. I need to do this work for myself and for us. I want to step into this part of my life with as much kindness, compassion and tenderness as I can bring. I will sit in meditation and be brave no matter what feelings arise and I will journal until the answers come. They always do.