Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Pros and Cons.

When I see ugly babies, I think: “That is a really ugly baby.” Often, I look at c. and say these words aloud. Karma will give me ugly babies.

I am not sure if I am thinking about babies lately because I actually WANT children, or if it is because I recognize that my body is not timeless and without limitations.

It feels more like I am scared that when I am 50, I will be sad I didn’t have children, and it feels less like: Oh my god, if I do not become a mother soon, I will be deeply unhappy.

I always thought I would adopt. Somehow this always feels more natural to who I am than the thought of having a child grow inside of me. But I am not nearly as financially secure as I also thought I would be, and adoption costs money.

Nothing in my life is exactly like I thought it would be, but there are some close approximations. This knowledge makes me hopeful.

I hate the idea of a little being taking form inside of my body, needing my body, depending on my habits and health and well-being. Some women get tears just thinking about this as some beautiful cycle of life. I am not those women.

I am going to be 34 in a few days, and there are still many things that I would like to accomplish before children enter my picture.

One thing I want to do is travel overseas for an extended period of time. In my ideal world I would have a good 2 or 3 months in a few different places.

In my even more ideal world I would be less of a resort traveler and more of a hunker down and find out what a place is really like. Some people have no curiosity about things such as place - in the larger sense, but my curiosity has been alive in me for a long time.

Another thing I want to do is publish some piece of fiction. I know I am working toward this, but it will be a slow climb. This feels like it is a good two years in the making.

In my even more ideal world I will have an agent before I have a child. This feels like it is a good three years in the making.

I would also be out of school and have a business of my own – writing for businesses/companies/organizations on a contractual basis. In this business, I will have a set of steady clients, and I will be paid a phenomenal hourly rate. This feels like it is four years away. I can envision starting up after school, but I imagine it will take four years for it to become stable income.

These writing goals feel attainable even if I have a child. But it feels like I’ll have a slower climb.

My whole entire life, I have been a tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race, right? I find myself wondering. I am not even sure what the race is. I guess it is the picture in my head – the things I see for myself, the kind of life I see myself living.

I don’t think I was ever supposed to figure anything out quickly or accomplish anything with great speed.

No matter how slow my life moves, I am one of those people who is too stubborn to quit a thing once my mind is set, and I don’t think a child would change this in me, but maybe could make it a more pronounced characteristic.

Traveling far away for long periods feels less attainable with children in the picture.

Traveling quite possibly hinders my husband’s career ambitions.

Writers often travel away on fellowships. And for summer writing retreats. Retreats cost money.

It has taken me so long – not to know what I want – but simply to have the self-confidence and faith that what I want is not as impractical and unrealistic as it sounds to the world, and from this understanding, to move forward trying to do what I want to do, and feel the need, in my bones, to do.

If I have children, and life takes other turns, I fear that I will resent my own kids. I could even feel angry with them, and more so, angry with myself.

I do not like the way it feels to be angry with anyone.

My friends who have children say children change your life. It is always a vague statement: “I know people say life changes after you have kids, but it really does. In ways that are hard to describe, and harder to imagine.”

What the fuck does that mean? Will someone please tell me?

I don’t only notice ugly babies. I notice ugly toddlers and children. Karma will send me ugly toddlers and ugly children.

Nothing has convinced me that I want my life to change in ways that I cannot imagine. I'm fairly content imagining things for myself, thank you very much.

I am pretty sure I would be a good parent.

But being a good parent, to my mind, means being responsible to my children in ways that require me to curb my own ambitions.

I don’t feel ready to curb my ambitions, but time is not on my side.

Is the fear that I will regret not having children when I am 50 a good reason to have a baby?

My mom really, really wanted me to have babies. Plural.

I never can tell if I really, really want babies, plural, let alone, singular.

But I also can’t tell if I don’t want babies.

People say that you never see your own kids as anything but beautiful. But I have a pretty good aesthetic eye. I know I would notice.

I also have a healthy dose of vanity. I would notice ugly.

The things I want to accomplish do not even begin to account for the things my husband wants to accomplish.

I am pretty sure he would also make a good parent.

I am not sure that children help marriages. I suspect that children make marriage a more complicated beast. Maybe I am wrong about this.

I always envisioned that if I had children, I would be more financially secure when I had them. Clearly, as I thought I would be adopting babies, not birthing babies! And I thought this pre-Angelina Jolie. I swear.

It makes my stomach physically ache when I hear about women’s labor experiences. I cannot help but wonder why on earth I would put my body through such pain. I’ll admit it. I also don’t want my butt to sag or my feet to grow.

Sometimes I find my friends’ children and my nieces and nephews delightful and fun and awesome.

My friend told me recently that her mom said she feels like people have to mourn their own transitions and transformations. Women mourn their single selves when they marry. We mourn ourselves as child-free when we are with child, and on and on. I get that.

What we end up mourning, I guess, is the vision of what we thought we would be or do within those lives, and we also mourn what we will no longer be able to do in our new lives. For this reason, I hope people will be sympathetic if I complain my way through pregnancy and parenting the way I complain my way up to the mere idea of conceiving. Because, I promise you, my fears and sadness and reservations are as legitimate and real to me as some women's desire to have children. It won't stop me from being a good mom or loving my child, I don't think, but my sadness will be real.

There is this one last thing. C. and I talked recently, and when it came down to it, it felt right to say, yes, we will try to have kids. At least a kid. Because here is what the pretty picture of five years from now looks like in my head: C. is an architect, and maybe he is in the process of starting his own firm. I am a writer. I have an agent. I also have my consulting company. I have an office in my house dedicated to writing. I work from home. If I am lucky, my office is a little detached building in the back yard. I have a kid who is about 3 1/2.

It's not the most extraordinary picture, I know. But it is my picture. It even makes me a little sad to only see one kid, because a kid without a sibling just makes me sad. But when I see two kids in the picture, I automatically see a nanny. And in my five year picture, I can't really afford a nanny.

Maybe we'll win the lottery?

There’s a lot to figure out. First and foremost, c. needs to be gainfully employed before we give it a shot. And we can’t do much about the economy but wait it out while he continues putting his resume out there. I’d also like to be closer to finished with school, to make it through a couple more semesters.

He asked, “What if it’s a boy? What will you do then?” And I said, “Can I trade it in?” Because I’m partial to the idea of a girl-child. But then he asked, “What if we have twin red-headed boys?” And I said, “Having Ruby and Basil is sort of like having twin red-headed boys.” Some things, I suppose, we cannot figure out, but we just have to go with what feels right in the moment. I can honestly say, none of this felt right five years ago.

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