I always pictured myself becoming a mother someday. I’m the girl who grew up playing with baby dolls and pretending my little sister was my baby.
But somewhere along the line, especially in the last year or so, I began to question this. Do I actually even want kids?
It started around the time I hit the big 3-0, before I was even married. I suddenly felt increasing pressure to make a decision about children.
Now, here I am at 32, almost 33, and a year into my marriage. As the so-called biological clock ticks, I feel that pressure even more.
Sure, more and more women are having kids at an older age. But with that comes risks. Plus, I don't want to struggle to keep up with my kids or not be able to retire until I'm 70 because my kids just graduated college.
Overall, my husband and I have always been on the same page about children. He’s fine with whatever happens: children, no children, or adopting if we can’t conceive. We've had many in-depth conversations about the decision. Now, it's something we talk about at least once a month — because it's been weighing on my mind a lot lately.
I've been married only a year. I always thought I'd have more time for it to be just the two of us, to travel and just be. But that clock is ticking. I keep ignoring it and placing it on a shelf hoping that one day I'll wake up and just "know."
But here I am and I still haven't had that moment of "I want to be a mom!”
I wasn't entirely sure why — until a few weeks ago. That morning, I had just finished my workout and was getting ready to walk our dog Bailey, when I decided to sneak in a minute of snuggling with my husband.
And as I lay there in the comfort of my husband’s arms, one of my favorite places in the whole world, I thought to myself: Will I be like this when we have kids? Would I remember to take moments like this, however fleeting they are? Or would I be so consumed by our family and forget about us?
That's when the truth finally hit me: I'm scared to become a mom. I'm scared of what the future will hold.
As I dug deeper, I realized there were a few main factors driving my fears:
1. I’m selfish and I don’t want to lose my body.
I like my alone time. I like it a lot. I crave it. But if I have children, my time will not be mine anymore — it will be someone else's.
Second, I've worked really hard to get my body to where it is now. I've been uncomfortable in my own skin nearly my entire life, with my weight constantly going up and down. It wasn't until two years ago that I finally found a lifestyle that worked and gave me the body I'd always wanted.
If I have kids, I fear I'll struggle to get back my body, and even then it won't be the same. My body won't be mine anymore.
2. I’m worried about money.
My husband and I both grew up in families that struggled financially. Things like getting to take piano lessons, go to karate classes, or buy the clothes that were "in" was never something we experienced. I don't want to repeat that with our kids.
We're not in a good place financially to have a child. We've just started our plan to get out of debt and it's hard. We're already making sacrifices just to ensure all the bills are paid each month.
I don't want to struggle to give our children what they need.
3. I don’t want to lose my sense of self.
I have two friends — one divorced and one happily married — who both feel they got lost in the job of being a mom. That's all they felt they did.
I know what it's like to feel "lost." About a year into Clifton and I dating, I was struggling with confidence, having lost my job and living in an apartment I hated. Plus, Clifton was spending more time pursuing his passion, improv comedy, than with me.
I got lost in him and our relationship. I'd constantly rearrange my schedule and cancel plans to accommodate him. I did this to the point of breaking.
Truthfully, the love I have for my husband and our dog and cat can be overwhelming. They are my world. I can only imagine what it would be like to love someone who I half-created, who I carried for nine months, and who needs me. They'd become my world without my even thinking twice.
I don't want to get lost and forget me and what I need, enjoy, and want.
4. I’m worried about what kids will do to our marriage.
Years ago, I was channel surfing and came across a Dr. Phil episode. He was talking to a couple whose marriage was in trouble. He said, "You have to take care of number one — you two — because when the kids are out of the house, what will be left?"
At first I thought, That's selfish! When you have kids it's all about them! Sure, it's all about the kids. But if you aren't taking care of yourselves, and the two of you as a couple, then you aren't helping your kids. They're watching your every move.
I worry that if we have kids, we'll neglect to nurture our own relationship.
5. I’m afraid I’ll repeat unhealthy patterns in my own family.
I come from a family of divorce, and my mother has been resentful of me because — as she once told someone — I "took all the attention away" from her, meaning my father’s attention.
As I got older, I noticed that she'd say stuff simply to put me down. Our words are important, and what we say to others can be damaging, especially to an impressionable child. I don't want to make the same mistake.
I used to be so afraid of turning into my mom. But I actually understand her a little better. When I think about having kids, I worry about my husband forgetting to love and give me attention — because I'm going to need it. We've discussed this and he knows my feelings. But talking about something and living it are two different things.
Still, despite my deep fears, I have moments when I picture Clifton and me snuggled up with our little one. Us both trying not to laugh at something ridiculous our kid has said. The two of us reliving life through our child's eyes.
I want that, all of it. But the fears are still there. Can we remember to take care of ourselves and our marriage? Will we remember to have moments to snuggle?
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