The matchmaker connected me with two more matches, both in the Dallas area. The conversation with one didn’t go so well, but the conversation with the other was great. He struck me as a thinker, he made me laugh, and I loved the way that he described his trip to the Galapagos Islands with his mom. We met for dinner last night.
This guy, whom I’ll call X, is a good guy. He indulged my suggestion that we go bowling, if there was a detail that needed to be taken care of, he took care of it, we had a lot to talk about with each other, and we made each other laugh. He has a good relationship with his parents and his sisters, he has friends who love him and whom he loves, and he likes and is fulfilled by his work. If he asked, I would definitely see him again.
I wonder if he will, though, because I think he found something out about me last night at the same time I did. Four times through the course of our conversation, X mentioned that he wants to have children. Four times, I said nothing. I have more than the average amount of poise, but he’s in the mental health field, which makes him more observant of human behavior than most. And I think that he saw that in those four times when I said nothing, I also flinched.
X and I discovered last night at dinner that I am ambivalent about having children. Ambivalent at best. AT BEST.
I love children. I always thought I’d be a good mom. I’m wondering if some of the turmoil I went through last winter that I couldn’t figure out was my subconscious coming to terms with the fact that my body probably won’t bear a child. I told the first matchmaker that I’m willing to have children, that I don’t want to go through extraordinary measures (i.e., spend $100K on fertility treatments), but that if a miracle happened, I would welcome that miracle. Last night it hit me that I actually wouldn’t welcome that miracle and that, in fact, a huge part of me would be sad.
I don’t want to be elbow deep in someone else’s vomit and poop. I don’t want to go to Disneyworld. I don’t want to watch Frozen more than twice all the way through. I don’t want to have to fight the rising tide of technology to make sure my baby doesn’t fry her brain with screen time before she’s two. I don’t want to have to sleep train my baby so he sleeps through the night, finally. I don’t want to potty train anyone. I don’t want to engage in or avoid or have to face in any way the mompetitions. I don’t want to fight my own instincts to push my kid harder than she’s capable of in school (I have some eye-opening stories from my tutoring sessions about what a hardass I am). I don’t want to fight pushing my own agenda and dreams on my kid.
And I know that being selfish and lazy means that I miss out on the belly laughs and the sticky kisses and the random, incredibly sweet expressions of unconditional love. I miss out on seeing a person I love with my whole being achieve tiny moments like taking advantage of a moment of distraction and pulling the glasses off an adult’s head after trying for ten minutes and huge moments like conjugating a verb in a foreign language. I miss out on the satisfaction and pride in knowing that I helped this person become a productive member of society.
I know that my friends who are moms would describe it as the most meaningful thing they’ve ever done, that having kids made their lives immeasurably better. At some point over the last couple of years, I decided that having a child will not make my life immeasurably better. I have real concerns that having a child will make me bitter and unhappy, as bitter and unhappy as being a corporate drone did.
On the one hand, I feel like a gigantic weight has been lifted off me, and that I am now free to take a running leap and fly wherever I want. And on the other hand, I feel like a gigantic, societal failure who has no interest in having this conversation with her parents. It’s not just my dream that’s died. It’s theirs, too, and I am unhappiest when I’m unable to mesh my expectations of myself with theirs. This is a doozy, and I can’t even eat a cupcake to make myself feel better.
I’ve always thought that for someone to be really disappointed, they would also have to be surprised. Do you think your parents will be surprised? They’ve known you your whole life. It’s possible they figured this out before you did. In any case, just as it’s exciting to figure out what you do want from life, it’s liberating to figure out what you don’t want–enjoy that weight being lifted.
I have always known this about myself and duly warned my unbelieving family since I was 16. I have a step brother with a great family including two wonderful kids which takes care of my dad. My poor mom is left hoping my brother has some ( which he wants and likely will do). It is hard. But this leads to my greater point, I had two terrific step parents and it seems likely, if i get married again , that I will have that chance myself. There are lots of ways to be a parent.