No, I don’t want to have a baby, thank you. I’m past my baby-making stage, though I admit that baby lust hit me just a few years ago – to my surprise.
But when I hear a single woman say “I want to have a baby,” and I heard two do so recently, women who are not in a relationship, women not surrounded by family or children, women who can’t possibly have a clue of what’s involved in 18 years of parenting – after all, do any of us? – I shake my head.
I understand the maternal instinct. I also know what it is to raise a child alone. Make that two. I know what it is to wish for your children that there were more family members around, the configuration of that family less important (in my opinion) than its presence, its reliability, and its genuine emotional and logistical support. Naturally, it helps if you can afford a child as well.
When I was in my early thirties and single, pursuing a career (and sans serious relationship), some of my women friends in the same boat were toying with becoming “choice moms.” At the time, that term was less in vogue.
Some went so far as to look into what it would take. Only one, so far as I know, went through the process and did eventually become a mother in her mid-thirties. She had savings, a steady job, and the committed assistance of her own mother.
By that time, I was married and pregnant, and even then utterly unaware of what it takes to be a parent – even when there are two of you, both with jobs, and everyone is healthy.
Parenthood is Tough. Motherhood? Tougher.
Parenthood is a tough, tedious, exhilarating, joyful, wondrous, worrisome and life-long road, albeit “front-loaded” on the first 20 years or so, depending on your situation. And must we really point out the impossible pressures and expectations for American mothers? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
For those who want to be mothers and become choice moms, my hat is off to you. I wish you planning beyond the pregnancy and baby stages, I wish you a fantastic support system, I wish you an extended family to give you the breaks you need over the years simply to be a “you” – even if only briefly. I wish you well.
Thinking Things Through
For those who so blithely say “I want to have a baby,” and toss out the remark while pondering freezing one’s eggs or visiting the local “bank” as the age of 35 or 40 approaches, I might also point out the cost estimates associated with 18 years of child-rearing. Try $250,000 as a rough, low-ball figure.
No doubt, it was the nonchalance of the women I overheard that disturbed me; their conversation was about them, their needs, what others thought, and the short-sighted view would have been apparent to any mother or father.
As for those who seriously consider undertaking parenthood on their own, I would offer these words, which I grant are entirely unsolicited: Having a child should not be a matter of ego; children are not here to fulfill our wishes or our dreams; being a mother or father is a commitment unlike any other.
I understand, I empathize, plan carefully and know that you cannot possibly plan for all of it. Parenting is an unknown path and one that holds you for life in ways that are impossible to explain… until you’re there, in the middle of it, hunkered down on some days and jubilant on others.
You May Also Enjoy