At my age, most of my peers are either thinking of having children; pregnant; new mommies; giving birth as I write this; or raising one, two, three, four children of their very own. Everyone who reads this blog knows that Erin is expecting. And just earlier this week, I visited one of my best friends who had just had her first baby last Thursday. That almost everyone around me is thinking, talking, breathing babies is, to me, an understatement.
Some girls know they want to become a mother as soon as they knew how to pretend-feed and burp their Cabbage Patch doll. These girls are motherly by nature, and they grow up to become women who nurture their nieces and nephews and their friends’ babies, even strangers’ children, as if it were second nature. These women never once have a doubt in their mind that they were meant to be mothers.
I am not one of these women.
Sure, I played house at age five, but I always played the role of the bossy wife and dog-owner. I might have had a doll pretend-asleep in the crib, but it was probably lying face down pretend-suffocating. And I never, ever bothered burping it. I probably never changed its pretend-diaper either. I held an empty bottle up to his hard plastic lips once in awhile, but quickly grew bored with the doll and simply tossed it aside to return to my pretend-stove which I found much more entertaining. And that was the extent of my playing house–the baby came tertiary to everything else.
Having gotten married last year and turned 32 several months ago, the Baby Question (or should I call it Dilemma?) has inevitably plagued my mind. I have never been a mothering type. I am awkward around babies–I only like them when they are newborn and don’t do anything but sleep and poop–and even then, I prefer to hand them off once that putrid odor comes seeping out of their tiny diapers. And as soon as the newborn starts crying, see you later! Toddlers can be cute when they imitate their parents, but often they run wild, and I (being the old hag that I am) just can’t handle their rambunctiousness. Older children are a little easier to talk to, but I find myself still addressing them as though they were my age: “I thought Ariel’s character was too archetypal and the narrative arc of her journey from fish to human too predictably tragic. What did you think?” I should just stick to asking them what their favorite Disney movie is and why. Or maybe just the first part of the question–the “why” might even be too much.
Prepubescent adolescents and teenagers are a bundle of hormones, and I also cannot relate to this age group. It seems the only people I feel comfortable around are 22 and up. If you can’t get into a bar, you and I can’t have a conversation.
And thus lies the Baby Question: to have or not to have? Because I am not a lover of children, I’m not quite sure if they’re in my future. At the same time, I can hear my biological clock ticking away in my ovaries, and my fear is one day waking up at age fifty and suddenly craving that sweet nectar of motherhood when it’s too late. I guess one can always adopt–something John and I have talked about but not at length–but with Neuromyelitis Optica/NMO, I don’t think it’ll be in my nor my child’s best interest to push myself too hard. Raising a child is hard enough; I just don’t know about doing it blindly (literally) at age 50.
My doctors have told me I still have a few years to make that decision, but it seems so much more impending when everyone around us is asking when it’s our turn. The truth is, I don’t know if it’ll ever be our turn, and both John and I are okay with that. Parenthood is not for everyone, and there are other things in life that can and will sustain our joy. I am not ruling out motherhood, but for now, I can finally say for the first time in my life that I am right where I’m supposed to be, and I’m completely fine with that.