If you asked me a year ago if I wanted to have children someday, I would have told you “absolutely!” What I wouldn’t have said was that I was scared. Not scared of having to carry a child for 9 months or of inevitably failing as a parent. I was mostly scared because I knew I had to do it on my own. Being with an alcoholic partner made me realize that, if I ever wanted to have children with him, I’d be essentially flying solo. I wouldn’t have trusted him alone with a child and knew I’d have to carry the weight of every decision by myself. I wanted kids, I was just terrified of what my life would become once I had them. But, at the time, I was trapped in the relationship and didn’t know how to get out, so I accepted the idea that someday it would be up to me to raise a child.
I think my views about having children really started changing when my sister had her baby. I see my sister, brother-in-law, and even my mom talk about him with a light in their eyes, even when they haven’t slept all night. They are all so patient with him while he’s throwing a fit or running them ragged, sucking all the energy out of them. I just can’t understand it. I’m sure there must be some sort of hormonal, biological thing that happens when you have a baby that gives you the energy to keep going, but the whole idea sounds exhausting. I can barely get to work on time most days of the week; I can’t even imagine adding a child to my morning schedule.
At the same time, I really do want to have kids of my own. Almost every job I’ve ever had has been working with children. I love seeing how their brains work, as they finally grasp the concept of how to climb up the stairs or fit the square piece through the correct hole. Their imagination gives me endless hope when I see little girls turn a hula-hoop into a space ship or watching a child share their toy. I think the greatest compliment I ever received was from a woman who told me “you’re so good with children, you’re the kind of person that it would be a shame if you never had kids.” I know that may sound imposing or rude to some people, but I took it with such pride. I AM great with kids. I encourage them to play, discover, and grow. I can relate to them whether they’re 3 or 13. I want to have my own so badly, so I can share all these moments with a tiny human who will always be a part of me.
But I’m at a crossroad. I know I want kids, but I have no idea how they will ever fit into my life. I imagine my life 5 or 10 years from now and I don’t see how it would be substantially different enough to make space for a child. It’s not that I don’t want to disrupt the status-quo or the freedom I have as an independent, childless woman; I would gladly make changes to figure out a way to have kids. It’s just that I don’t know where to start. How can I make more money to afford a child? How can I learn to trust my partner so that I won’t take on too much of the responsibility? How can I find the extra energy and time in my day to give a child the mother they deserve? I can’t answer these questions and, as I look to the role-models around me, I’m not confident that they have the answer either.
What was once such a simple, straight forward question about wanting kids has become this thing that eats me up inside. For the first time in my life, I feel like one of my dreams is impossible to achieve. And I think that’s the scariest part of all. So do I give up or keep hoping for it? I suppose that’s the new question.