I vividly remember a moment I had with a client at my shop a few years ago. She was a friend from school – we had been in classes together in middle school, but hadn’t been super close in high school. Just making small-talk, I said, Can you believe everyone we graduated with is having babies?! Some people are having their second and third?! And she responded, heartbroken, that her and her husband had been trying desperately for a baby for a long time and were deep into the infertility journey, trying to conceive. I remember thinking holyshitemily what did you just say?! but the conversation went on. I don’t remember it being awkward or her acting offended, but it has stuck with me to this day. You never know what road someone else is walking.
Babies. On my next birthday, I’ll be 30 (which I’m excited about!), and the way it’s looking, I don’t think I’ll have one by then. As a teenager, and even in college, I always figured I’d be done having babies by the time I was 30 – because, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?! It’s not that I don’t want a baby – I haven’t used any birth control in several years. But I also don’t desperately want a baby – beyond tracking my cycle, I’m not doing much else to try to conceive. I always felt like I just wanted it to happen when it was supposed to happen, without planning, because I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to make such a HUGE decision like that rationally. But I’ve been wondering for a while now if it won’t quite work out that way. But at the same time, I’m not quite ready to look into it further with a doctor. Part life choices. Part biology.
Basically I’m pretty neutral on the whole thing. And hopeful that it will happen when it happens. And I understand that there may come a time when I feel more desperate to try to conceive, but I’m comfortable with how I feel right now. I have a very fulfilling life, and while I picture my future with a family in it, I know that my life has value and purpose even if I’m not destined to be a mom to another human. Being childless, whether or not by choice, does not make you less of a woman.
Now of course, I talk with my friends about this kind of stuff. Work, marriage, babies, divorce, families – these are all parts of life as late-20-somethings. My girlfriends and I ask each other questions, and we’re all at different phases of this emotional journey. I have friends that don’t want kids, friends that don’t want kids right now, friends that are “trying”, friends that are pregnant, and friends that are new moms. I’m not saying that you should never ask a woman about these things. But I certainly am saying that we need to start being more thoughtful about how we talk to each other about these things. You never know where someone else is on a particular topic.
I feel like I’ve heard it all when it comes to the baby thing. You better be sure when you go off the pill, because it happens fast! (which is obviously not true for me). Or you don’t know what love is until you have a baby – that one was particularly hurtful. If I so much as look at a nephew or little cousin, Oh Emily! You’re a natural! It looks great on you! Or the dreaded you don’t understand because you’re not a mommy. No, I can’t even imagine it – I haven’t experienced pregnancy, childbirth, or motherhood first-hand. I can only imagine how awesome (and difficult) it must be! But – you also can’t imagine what it’s like to be me. Living my life. Doing my thing.
Starting a family changes EVERYTHING – and it should! Having a baby will definitely make your life more full – in amazing, wonderful, gorgeous ways – but it doesn’t make mine any less full right now. Not having a baby does not make me less.
I remember back to that conversation with the friend from school (who by the way, has three gorgeous kids now) – and I kick myself for saying that, and for all the times before that that I’m sure I’ve said other things to people that have offended them about their life choices – not only about babies, but about well, when are you guys gonna get married? or what are your plans after school? or even I don’t know how you _______, but I am really, genuinely trying to get better about this. As women, and as humans, we need to be loving towards each other for choices that may be different than our own, no matter how hard it is to understand. First of all, it’s none of my business. And secondly, everyone gets to do what they want.
I’m just gonna keep on doing what. I. want.❤