Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The PlayStation blared from the living room on Sunday. Twelve year old Madison and ten year old Spencer talked trash back and forth about who would win the next race in the game. Music flowed from the computer speakers in the office, as fourteen year old Rachael browsed the hard drive for music that she would like. The glasses and silverware clinked as I unloaded the umpteen cereal bowls and silverware from the dishwasher. Four year old Cassidy tugged on my shirt and asked me for a glass of water, for what seemed like the thousandth time, because I kept forgetting to get one for her.

“This is what it would be like, you know,” Todd gestured around the kitchen at all the sounds that our nieces and nephews made.

“So,” I plopped a glass into the rack in the dishwasher, “Do you think we should do it?”

“You ask me that like you expect me to have an answer,” Todd said, and fidgeted with a half filled bag of baked cheese doodles.

“If everyone put as much thought to this question like we do, the human race would have died out long ago,” I sighed as I wiped out the bottom of the kitchen sink with the sponge.

He laughed a bit, but I know that he’s as torn on the question as I am. It’s the same question that’s been plaguing us since the earlier years of our marriage. Should we have a child?

Well? Should we?

I’ve asked nearly every mother I know how they knew that they were ready for a baby. They all say the same thing, “I just knew I was ready.”

“But how did you know? What did it feel like?” I pressed

“I don’t know. Just ready, I guess,” they all shrugged their heads and turned to tend to a wriggling infant or a bumbling toddler, or a petulant teenager.

I don’t know what ready feels like. Have I felt it already and just didn’t recognize it? I can feel the confused look of every mother I know bearing on me. The look that says, “You’re weird. What do you mean you didn’t recognize ready?”

What I am looking for is certainty. What I am looking for is a neon arrow that either points to “ready” or “not ready, wait a little longer” or “no, don’t have a baby. Ever.” What I am looking for is certainty that our baby, our child, our teen, our adult offspring will be a cool person that we’ll actually like to hang out with.

I remember when my cousin was pregnant with her first child; she emailed me with her fear that she wouldn’t like her child. She was so afraid that her child would be somebody that she didn’t enjoy spending time with, yet she was also afraid to admit that out loud for fear of being branded as “weird” or even a “bad mother.” Well, it’s a legitimate concern, isn’t it? I emailed her back with, what I hope was a comforting notion, that she liked herself and she liked her husband. It stood to reason that she would then like her child, the direct product of parts of herself and her husband. And of course her child is cool, because she’s cool and her husband is cool. Her child was so cool that they went and had another one. She didn’t email me again with any fears during the second pregnancy. She was sure her second would be cool. And of course he is.

I was able to comfort my cousin in her time of uncertainty, I hope. Yet here I am with this huge question that weighs on me with each passing day that I grow another day beyond 34 years old and closer to 35 years old. In each day I teeter on the fence, afraid to tip into the mommy side, and afraid to tip over into the child free side. I walk on top of the fence, and I watch each side from the elevated view. My balance never wavers, I walk a straight line on top of that fence everyday, my eyes fixed on the horizon and waiting for the neon arrow to appear. I calculate that I will be in my late 50’s when my theoretical and non-existent child would graduate from high school, and with each day that passes I will be even older then. My feeling of readiness changes from minute to minute as I think to myself, “Ooh, was that a ready feeling? Or am I just hungry for lunch?”

I look down at my feet, firmly planted on top of the fence and command them to pick a side and jump to it. They remain in place, and my eyes continue to scan each side looking for a safe place to land should I ever decide to jump.



Blogger Unknown said...

Maybe indecision is really a decision? Maybe it's your unconscious way of saying you're not ready yet.

There was never a question for me. I knew I didn't want kids from an early age. I love teaching them and playing with them, but I love sending them home at the end of the day.

August 14, 2008 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Ruby said...

FWIW, I'd say you know when you are ready when the desire to have a child is greater than any rational reason not to. When the heart beats stronger than logic.

In some people, that happens far sooner than other. And part of the problem is that its a comparison between two sides of our brain that we are accustomed to doing our best to seperate. But, its something that only you (and Todd) can determine.

August 15, 2008 at 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you've been struggling with this for as long as I've known you, what like 6 years now? And I know you both are smart people who will make the right choice for your family. My only fear, for you, is if/when you decide Yes, I am ready to start a family that it might be too late for you to do so safely. And I would hate to see you sad, hurt, disappointed by a late decision.

Before I had #2 I made a decisiion, I decided that if I didn't have any more kids by the time I was 30 I'd have my tubal b/c I didn't want to be in my 50's/60's raising a teenager! And I had her at 29 and my tubal 3 months later. It was something I just knew I wanted/didn't want.

Good luck on your fence.

August 15, 2008 at 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I can say that my wife and I made the decision and went forward. And in retrospect we were NOT READY. Holy crap were we not ready.

But I don't really know that there's much out there that really MAKES you ready - you never have a *real clue* what's going to happen. I suppose we've done well, but we look back at making the decision in our mid-twenties and laugh at how clueless we were to be making such a momentous choice.

August 18, 2008 at 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. That's from Rush, but it does apply.

August 18, 2008 at 9:48 PM  

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