I thought I wanted kids but now I’m not so sure…
Growing up, I thought I’d have the game of life sewn up by 21. I figured, by then, I’d be married and have squeezed out at least two pups. Every girl in my class seemed to have the same plan. Time marched on and 21 came and went. I thought, the universe better send me my Mr. Perfect so I get on with things. But as we all know, life never turns out the way we think it will and soon, my thinking had shifted to "when would I even have time to raise a little ‘un?" I was way too busy partying, clubbing, drinking and enjoying drowsy night bus rides home.
Things changed a few years later when I met Dan on Match.com. I liked the look of his profile and he was more interesting than some of the off-the-peg guys I’d seen on the rest of the site – (I’m sure you do love to travel. Big whoop. Who doesn’t?!).
On his profile it said he had two kids. Hmm. I thought.
Dan and I met and went from 0 to 60 in weeks. Soon I was meeting the kids, hanging out, having family holidays and I even got to know and like their mother. But deep down, I knew, the whole thing was a bit of a train wreck.
Don’t get me wrong, they were all nice people but Dan and I leapt into a full-blown relationship way too quickly. I must have taken my timings from Kim Kardashian. It all happened too soon and I wasn’t a big enough person to take on someone else’s kids. I was incredibly immature myself, so dealing with this situation was too much for me. People become step parents all time but you need a certain personal resilience because, as a women you have to accept that he may not want any more children so these step children maybe your only chance of becoming a mother and they’ll never treat you like a mother because they already have one. You have to be comfortable with being a kind of annoying friend/ aunt type figure. I wasn’t. I started to see during the course of the relationship that I did want to be a biological mother. Sadly, Dan knew (or thought he did), that he didn’t want more kids.
At that time, hearing that hurt but in hindsight, it was a blessing. We were completely incompatible. The arguments became more and more frequent and the fun times fewer and further between. In the end, us breaking up was the best thing we could have done for those kids.
I was single for a couple of years after Dan but then I met a very nice young man, Tony. Meeting him was wonderfully serendipitous which I took as an indicator of good things to come.
And for a while it was great. But, to cut a long story short, Tony and I broke up because I wanted children and he didn’t. Hmmm, sound familiar? At the time it was devastating. This was the first relationship I’d had where I actually felt there was a future. With pretty much all my previous ones, I knew, deep down, they had an expiration date, it was just a matter of when (even though I’d still pursue the relationship with all my heart).
My sadness immediately following the break up was akin to mourning. It wasn’t the sadness just of losing someone I loved, it was also about losing a future which until that point I’d allowed myself to think was possible.
After we broke up and heart ache had subsided, I started to think, why, if I wanted kids so much didn’t I just get an appointment at a sperm bank and a turkey baster and I realized. I didn’t just want children, I wanted a family.
I didn’t want to bring a life into the world just for my own entertainment and satisfaction which, of course, is unforgivably selfish. But being a human being is a tough gig to inflict on someone. Some humans spend large chucks of their lives unhappy, pissed off with themselves or other people or things (computers and phones are the tip of the iceberg. In fact, some people have probably been pissed off with tips of icebergs). My kids may end up having to overcome unspeakable difficulties, or just be a general misery guts.
From the petty traumas of seeing someone you sort of know heading towards you from the end of a long corridor to the heart ache of a break up, humanity is tough.
I remember not feeling grateful for being alive AT ALL as a child. I’m much happier now but every now and then I feel the deep resignation of, well, we’re here now, let’s just make the most of it. What if my kid felt like that all the time? I’d feel terrible!
Some people say we are spiritual beings choosing this earthly existence. If that’s true and I don’t know that being a human would be my first choice. I’d have to ask The Big Man, what other gigs he had going. “Hmm Guardian Angel, I like the sound of that or Fairy”.
You have to really know what you’re letting yourself in for when you embark on raising a family and I don’t know that everyone thinks it through. You have to think about fundamentals like, is your relationship strong enough to withstand a third person entering it? Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices for the good of this new life, this new life that is a black hole from which little can escape - money, sleep, spontaneity, food, peace and quiet and a tonne of other questions that people only seem to ask themselves once they see the little blue line on the plastic stick.
Of late, I’ve really starting thinking about what family is and what it would mean in my life.
I don’t know that I could do what I do if I had a family. I don’t know that I would want to.
I wouldn’t want to leave home every evening as my family snuggled on the sofa watching Corrie or X Factor, going “OK, mummy’s off out to make some drunk people laugh”.
But I had an epiphany recently.
People go on and on about biological clocks and it makes some women panic and rush into poor decisions that lead to unhappiness, grabbing any bloke that’s left on the shelf just so they can fulfill their life goal to have kids but that’s a trap they've laid for themselves. I decided to let myself off the hook of feeling like I haven’t achieved if I don’t have kids.
I’m an aunt to two great kids, a fabulous niece and a spunky little nephew, many of my friends have lovely children so if I need time with youngsters, I’m spoiled for choice and the best thing is, once we’ve played, ate ice cream and I’ve prized my iPad out of their sticky hands, I can go home and write, and cook, and watch Scandal in a Slanket and no one can stop me (sexy image, right?).
I’m not going to come home to find toys scattered across the living room floor or a bin full of stinky nappies, or the panic of the baby monitor going quiet for half a nano-second.
I realized recently that I’m pretty good at getting shit done and if I really wanted to have a family, if it was really as high a priority as I thought it was, I would have made the necessary sacrifices to allow it into my life, but the fact is, I don’t think it is as important to me as I thought it was. This is liberating and a blessed relief.
All of this is so liberating because the knock-on effect is, I’m not concerned about meeting a partner because now there’s no time frame I’m supposed to work to. I can just get on with living and let that be my agenda rather than, hmm, this is all fun and games but when is Bradley Cooper gonna put a baby in my pouch!? Far from cutting off my options, it’s actually opened them up and if, when the time’s right, I do meet a lovely fella that whisks me off my feet but the biological clock has stopped ticking, we can adopt.
I don’t want to get all Brandgelina about it but changing my perspective has meant that adoption is now as desirable an option as biological children once were and morally, for me, makes much more sense. Why fill the world with new people when there’s already a load of them that need our love?