So one of the big things that S and chatted about the other day was this baby situation. And she brought up that I really shouldn’t put the decision off or wait longer than I have to. I mean, yes, my fertility window is closing, but that wasn’t her main point. If the answer is yes, I definitely want children, and no, D definitely does not want them, it’ll be harder in the long run if I wait. But before we even get to that point, I need a firm yes or no on my part. And that might take some time.
Why I want a child:
- I’ve always loved the idea of this thing that started off as two, disparate, single cells coming together and growing into a little human inside me. Then watching as this little human grows into their own little person and how that works. I know I’ll want to teach them to knit and bake cookies and to develop a love of reading, and I’m sure D would want to teach them all about baseball and soccer and a love of reading. And just…to see what sticks. What they like, what they don’t. Alright, the love of Broadway comes from me, the love of soccer from you, but where the hell did the love of ancient Egypt come from? Or your eyes, my nose, Grandma’s chin, but who had the killer eyelashes? That’s just something I’ve wanted to witness and experience.
- I know it’s likely cliche and selfish, but I like the idea of someone carrying on my memory. I have so much love for my great-grandmother. Not because I ever met her, but because of all the stories that my grandmother and father have told me about her. I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife, so I like the idea that I could carry on in some way. I also would like to know that someone will grieve me when I’m gone.
- Similarly, I feel like I could live a fulfilled, childless life up to a point, but by the time I hit my 80s and can’t travel or get around as easily, I feel like that might come to an end. It seems to me that the only way to have my final years be well lived is to have family and loved ones around. And at that age, family and loved ones are children and grandchildren.
- This is going to sound weird, but I had a majorly fucked up childhood, and I feel like I owe it to the universe to undo that. And the way I feel it would be best for me to do that would be to raise a child with all the love, security, and happiness that I didn’t have as a child.
Why I shouldn’t have children:
- I’m not sure that I’m mentally healthy enough for children. I mean, my mood fluctuates badly enough as is, but to add pregnancy hormones on top of that? I don’t even want to think about it. And then postpartum…I really don’t want to be one of those mothers who drown their babies in the tub. But even after my hormones stabilize, I don’t know how I’d do it. On my good days, I’m sure I would be fine, be a great mother even. But I don’t always have good days. And on those days when I can hardly get out of bed, can’t be around people, I wouldn’t be able to do that with a child. I remember my mom having some of those days, and I felt responsible.
- The cycle of abuse. My therapist used to tell me that I was already working to break the cycle: I got into therapy, I was aware of the cycle, and I wanted it to end with me. But I doubt my mother went into motherhood intending to do the things she did. I’m sure she didn’t rub her filling stomach where I was growing and say to herself, “Yes, one day I will throw cans of vegetables at you and drag you down the hallway by your hair.” So what if I snap? I mean, there were two instances that I can’t help but remember every time I even think of having kids. The first was when I was eighteen. My mom’s cat was under my bed and I was trying to get her out so I could go to sleep. It had been a long battle, and I was annoyed. I reached under to grab her, and she swatted at me, scratching me really bad. She finally came out seconds later, and I kicked at her. I feel horrible and ashamed about this. I didn’t connect, but I don’t think that makes it any better. She was a sweet, innocent creature, far smaller than I was, who probably just didn’t understand why I wouldn’t leave her alone, and I lashed out at her physically in anger. The second was during the vacation from hell that I took with J. We had been on the road all night, and she and her boyfriend needed to sleep, leaving me with all four kids. Now, her kids were never well behaved, but they became monsters as soon as their parents fell asleep. One was trying to plug the clock in just enough that he could touch the prong while it was still in the wall. Another was running around like a wild woman, trying to break everything from the coffee pot to her sisters. The third was running around with the second, screaming, but not trying to break anything. And the fourth was laying on the floor, crying, as her sisters literally ran over her. Now, I did try to restore order. I tried time out, sitting on the couch with them on my lap (so I could hold them in one place), finally moving to threats (I’ll wake up your mom, and she will not be happy about this). Finally, I resorted to spanking. I knew that it was J’s first line of defense, and figured that it was the only thing that would get through to them. Worked with the youngest. I applied about as much pressure as you would while unenthusiastically clapping, but he still wailed, pouted, and went to sit on the couch and refused to look at me. The second youngest (the one who was just running around), followed her brother without the need of a swat; apparently, she realized I meant business. But the third… I gave her three whaps, about the same intensity as I gave her brother, and she pouted but went right back to it when I turned around. So I swatted her again, a little harder. Didn’t even pout this time, just went right back to it. So I swatted her as hard as I could, and she just laughed at me and went on running. I got so angry. I wanted to hurt her, to make her cry. And in that instant, I knew I had to get out of there. I woke up J’s boyfriend, told him he had to take over the kids, because I couldn’t do it anymore, and went for a walk. But what if I had been alone? And, I mean, the fact that I was even capable of feeling that way, of doing that, doesn’t that mean that the cycle isn’t broken with me? And do I want to take the gamble? I mean, it wouldn’t be me I’d be risking, it’d be this little human I’m considering one day creating.
- Then there are all the little things, the sacrifices. Am I willing to give up traveling, sleep, and cleanliness? I don’t know.
So there it is, my pro/con list as it currently exists. And I still don’t know what to do.