The huz and I were nestled in our usual spoon position—me spooning him—the other night when the subject of kids came up, yet again. I’d just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed and was thinking about being Liz-like and choosing never to have children.
“What if we don’t have kids?” I said.
“I’ve thought about that too,” he said. “I could live with it.”
“I still feel so ambivalent about it all,” I said. “Sometimes when I meet someone’s baby I get a pang but other times I get nothing, nada, and feel thankful I can hand the baby back.”
“Me too. I could be happy just with you.”
As I snuggled my husband’s warm back, I took heart in the fact that at least we’re on the same page about this. I’m turning thirty-two this summer and if you’d asked me at twenty-eight, I probably would have said that this would be around the time we’d start trying. But here’s the thing—we’re really busy. And, frankly, we’re also awfully self-involved. Not to mention still deeply (wild understatement) in student debt. The secret I’ve been keeping with myself is that I used to think that one day this mythical me would come along. She’d be capable of hipping wailing kids while doing laundry, washing dishes, and steaming homemade baby meals, all the while working freelance assignments, penning books and possibly holding down a part time job. But the more I see what it takes to be a mother, the more I realize what an optimistic fiction this is. And it’s partly because until now, in my thirties, I didn’t know any actual mothers—that is, aside from Angelina Jolie who clearly has more resources than us. Like most of my generation, the women I know have waited to be somewhat settled down and the vast majority are still childless, because, go figure, settled down is hard to come by these days.
“Maybe I should have had a baby at fifteen,” I said. And as soon as it came out of my mouth the idea suddenly sounded ingenious.
“Seriously!” I said, “It’s not like I did anything all that useful with my twenties. I could have just skipped a bunch of all-nighters and breast fed instead! I’d have a sixteen-year-old!”
The huz agreed, as most physicians would, that there are benefits to having kids earlier. And that it does seem crazy that now—the busiest time of our lives so far—is when we’re contemplating adding kids to the mix. I was, of course, missing all kinds of other logistical elements like who would pay for my teenage pregnancy and whether I’d have actually pursued two degrees or ended up with a job as a secretary (wait, that is my job).
While I may not have solved the riddle to the prolonged life course and delayed adulthood, it made me think that perhaps some re-ordering of life events is a future potential. First comes babies, then comes love, then comes marriage (maybe)—anyone?