Friday, February 03, 2006

To baby or not to baby?

THAT is the question all over that place lately.

In Hollywood: Is Angelina pregnant with Brad’s child? Is Katie…excuse me, I mean KATE Holmes really pregnant and what kind of alien child will be born of this strange coupling? Is Brittney pregnant again?

In Washington: Alito has been confirmed, and what does that mean for women’s reproductive rights?

In the Media: Walmart is being sued for not carrying the morning after pill. Germany is concerned over their low birth rates.

In day-to-day life: friends are having babies, planning babies, talking about babies.

And in books, but only because I just finished reading a book titled “Maybe Baby”, which is a collection of essays on the issue of baby-making, or not. This was an excellent book, which so eloquently stated all sides of the breeding issue. Those who have them, those who want them, those who don’t (have them or want them). As I read the book, I started reflecting on my own personal feelings on this issue.

As a 30-year-old single woman in today’s society, I’d be lying if I said the baby thing doesn’t cross my mind often. I’m surrounded by all the above factors, not to mention that I’ve always loved children, and simply melt at the sight of a cute kid. I stop in my tracks when a baby stroller goes by me, and get lost in the smiling and cooing and flirting with the small child. Therefore, one would think, that I’d be ITCHING for motherhood. But, one would be wrong. At least I think one would be wrong. See, that’s the thing, when it comes to the prospect of having my own children, I’m completely ambivalent. Reading “Maybe Baby” I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with some of the writers who discussed their reasons for wanting children, the unexplainable desire, the joy they imagined (and then realized) it would bring them. But then I also found myself agreeing just as adamantly with those who explained their reasons why they couldn’t imagine themselves parenting, yet, or ever.

And this is the exact spot where I just lost most of you. “Never parenting?” you ask appalled “But how could you say such a thing?” Those who know me personally are shaking their heads in disbelief, after all, I’d make such a good mother, and I’m so great around kids. Those who don’t are just thinking, “Oh, she’s one of THOSE women”.

Now let me be clear, I have NO idea, if I will or will not ever have a child. I’m ambivalent remember? BUT, the thought has crossed my mind on several occasions, that I may always just be the “cool auntie” and never the “mommy”. There are several reasons for this. Reason number 1: I’m single. But that of course isn’t the heart of the reason, the heart of it is that I thoroughly enjoy being single. I toy with the idea of love and marriage, and most often return to the “no, thanks, not for me” stance. I may be on the fence about whether I’m ready to be a mother, but I have no doubt that I am in no way, shape or form ready to be a wife. I don’t know that I EVER want to get married. I might, as I’m constantly told by the “smug marrieds” around me “just meet that guy and fall deeply in love and blah blah blah”. I might. And then I might not. I might meet that guy, and still not want the marriage, the invasion of my space, the complete handing over of my trust. I have trust issues. I work for lawyers, we do lots of divorces, I don’t think most of society takes marriage seriously enough, and therefore, I take it too seriously. BUT, I might decide one day that yep, I want to marry this man and make babies with him. It’s true, it could happen. Reason number 2: I’m selfish. Now, this one I know for a fact is a passing thing. But I’ve spent most of my life trying to please those around me, and it’s only recently that I’ve begun to focus on ME. I like it. I don’t want to share it. I don’t want to give up my sleep, I don’t want to give up my nights out sipping martinis, I don’t want to become one of those people that only talks about her babies, not because it’s annoying, but because it means I have NO OTHER LIFE but my babies. Not yet, I’m still having too much fun. Reason number 3: Pregnancy doesn’t appeal to me in any imaginable way. There is absolutely NOTHING about the condition that I find even the slightest bit tempting. I blame this mostly on my ex-co-workers for sharing more birthing information than any childless woman should EVER have to hear. And yes, I know, it’s a beautiful thing, and you feel your baby inside and you have a special bond and blah blah blah…I know all this. I’m still absolutely petrified of the whole idea of pregnancy and giving birth, and there really is nothing anybody can say that will change my mind. I am sure, however, that once I go through it myself, IF I do, that I’ll probably have to eat my words because I’ll be one of those women who loves every moment of being pregnant. I tell you what, I’ll happily eat my words, because I have a feeling I’m more likely to be the miserable pregnant person who everybody feels sorry for. Reason Number 4: I think our world SUCKS. There I said it. There is too much violence, disease, hatred, anger, depression, and just nastiness. And it’s not getting any better; in fact, daily I’m shocked by how much worse it gets. The thought of voluntarily bringing a child into this world, and then watching them have to survive in it? Not only does it sadden me deeply, it terrifies me. I am a worrier of the worst kind (thanks mom for this trait); I have constant panic attacks about the state of my family, my friends, and complete strangers. And I understand that a maternal connection to a child is intense, so I can only imagine what a basket case I will/would be as a mother. Not so sure I can handle it, and I’m not so sure it’s fair to inflict my dramatics onto a poor innocent child.

There are more reasons, but these four top the charts.

There is, however, a loophole around most of these reasons. That loophole is actually something I’ve thought about for most of my adult life. Adoption. See, I’ve always wanted to adopt. And with the exception of reason number 2 (selfish), adoption would eliminate most of my reasons. And as we discussed, the selfishness is temporary. For adoption, I actually don’t need a husband, or even a boyfriend. Reason number one –gone. And yeah, I know all about “scientific” ways to have a child without a man, but I’m not interested in those because…see reason number 3 for starters. But also because I think there are too many broken homes in this world, and I refuse to purposely bring a child into one. If a child already doesn’t have a home, well, then one parent is better than no parents, right? And let me quickly say, before I get lambasted, that I am not knocking single parenting in any way shape or form. I think single parents are amazing, and I applaud them with all my heart. I know most single parents didn’t choose this as their situation, and even if you did, you have EVERY RIGHT to make that choice. I’m just saying that for me personally, it’s the wrong choice. This also brings me back to reason number 4 above. I don’t want to bring a child into this world unless I can at least have the fantasy that I’m providing them with a daddy too, because the world is already so screwed up, so I just couldn’t do that. But adoption? Well, that child is already in this world, so if I can make it better for them, then there you have it, reason number four – GONE. And quite obviously, adoption does away with the whole pregnancy issue all together, and that’s just fabulous!

But of course loopholes come with catches. The catch is, there’s no way I can afford adoption. So there you have it, for the time being at least, no babies for me.

What I loved about this book was the realization that I am not alone in these feelings. I loved that the writers were from all walks of life, and had all made such different choices, with such unique reasons for those choices. It made it easier to see that I don’t have to have all the answers, now, or ever. And if I do end up choosing parenthood, even then, I don’t have to have all the answers. Good to know.

So the moral of the story is, that I just don’t know where I stand on parenthood, except that I know now is not the time. And that’s okay, in fact, it’s great. I have plenty of time to figure things out while I play with everyone else's kids.

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