I am married, as most of you know. My husband and I have been together for nine and a half years, and married for almost three. As soon as I was married, people began asking us when we were going to start a family...I was really shocked that people were asking this. Call me crazy, I just didn’t see it coming.
At the time, I wasn’t thinking about children at all, but the question was thrust upon us, and so it became a force to be reckoned with. Before we married we, of course, talked about becoming parents...for all intents and purposes, both of us thought the question of whether we would have children or not was settled. What I found, though, was that when we married and the question became more real, I was less sure.
Nearly three years later, I find that I haven’t changed my position all that much. While having a child would be a great experience, the simple truth is that I am still very much ambivalent about parenthood. The funny thing I have learned about being on the fence of parenthood, is that everyone has an opinion about it.
Right at the start, I’d like to clear up a few of the misconceptions I have come across in the years since the question of parenthood first reared it’s ugly head. First of all, it’s important to know my ambivalence is not because I’m some sort of freak, and it’s not because I “just don’t know what I want.” It’s not that I dislike children, or that I’m selfish. It doesn’t make me less capable of love or less of a woman.
Now that we’ve got that covered let’s talk about what it is; I have a choice as to whether or not to become a parent. Speaking in terms of the society we live in, this is a relatively new choice for women, and it’s a powerful one. The thing IS that I love my marriage, my freedom, and the life I have. Having a child would change things so much--and my husband and I just haven't gotten to a place where we want to give those things up. Maybe someday we will...maybe we won’t.
Do we dream of a family? Sure. We love the idea of it. I also love the idea of living in France or perhaps buying a house, but who knows when or if these things will ever happen. In short, it IS what it is...and it is also what it is not.
What I found out about being ambivalent about parenthood is that it becomes its own journey. People can be judgmental and even willful when it comes imposing their own views about parenthood. No matter what you decide, people will judge you. If I decided tomorrow to have one child, some people would tell me, “you should at least have two--that’s selfish.” If I had three, others would say, “You shouldn’t have too many kids!” And still if I decide to have none at all, others would slap me with this “You just don’t know love until you become a mother.” There is no winning.
It’s all hogwash. You don’t need a baby to be happy if you don’t want one. And yet for some, their lives would be incomplete without one. The people who are ambivalent--who might go either way--are no less valid than those who have three kids or one kid or nine kids. If you are ambivalent, be ambivalent. Think hard about your decision, and don’t base it on what other people think because they don’t have to live your life. Happiness takes all forms, and it doesn’t have to conform to societal norms.
I want to hear from you--what do you think about starting a family? Have you been asked and felt the pressure? Or did you always know that you wanted to be a parent? Share in the comments section below!