I’m not a decisive person, as anyone who knows me reasonably well will tell you. If I chose the cheesecake for dessert I’m always quite convinced the moment I’ve done so that it’s not the best option and will swap to the soufflé at the last minute. Conversely I also absolutely hate faffing (for those of you not familiar with this northern term it means mucking about, taking far too long to make a choice, usually with great amounts of flapping and unnecessary discussion…). Perhaps my dislike of faffing is the only thing that keeps my lack of decisiveness in check, although then I worry I’ve made a snap decision, just to avoid the horrors of faffing…
There is a point to this, I promise.
A few years ago I realised I was no longer bemused by my friends’ choices to bring squashy little bundles of joy into their lives and indeed, began to imagine myself possibly doing the same at some point in the future. The months rolled on and I found myself hugely enjoying the company of these small humans (playdoh, cuddles, lots of stories and jumping in puddles- what’s not to like?) and I imagined myself doing this, with a small human I couldn’t just hand back at the end of the day. Strangely, the thought pleased me. I imagined dealing with nappies, tantrums, repetitive story reading and sleepless nights and again, it was okay (apart from the lack of sleep- I prefer to think that any child of mine would sleep eight hours a night from two weeks onwards- don’t burst my bubble). I even, perhaps immodestly, thought that I might be quite good at it.
My lovely husband is also very good with children and agreed that adding a fourth member to our little family (number three is our cat) would be a nice thing to do ‘soonish’. We discussed what we would tell them about Father Christmas, about religious beliefs, about being kind, what books we would encourage them to read and how soon it was acceptable to take them rough camping and were pleased that, in the main, we agreed, at least on the big things.
Yet, three and a half years after our first goddaughter was born and I wanted to do nothing else in the world but cuddle her constantly, here we are, still not quite certain about our choice, still not 100% about our future plans. Why?
Children or not? Long lie ins or sticky kisses? Exotic holidays or baby giggles?
I rather envy people who have wanted children from a young age and who have that total conviction throughout their lives. That said, I have also recently become a little envious of those people who are equally certain that bringing more humans into the world isn’t for them. Either way, having that level of confidence in your choice impresses me hugely. Perhaps this is you? However, as with so many things in my life, I’m struggling to make a decision, and this time it’s longer lasting and a much bigger deal than sticky toffee pudding or chocolate fudge cake.
Children or not? Long lie ins or sticky kisses? Exotic holidays or baby giggles? ‘The Gruffalo’ five times in a row or an hour with a novel and a glass of wine? (I am aware of course that many of these things aren’t an ‘either or’ but there’s the cost aspect- certainly for us, having a child would mean considerably less money coming in and therefore less opportunity for many of the things we currently do).
How do you know for sure? How can you be confident in your decision? I worry desperately that if it isn’t the right choice then (while I couldn’t help but love them) I might be hideously resentful at the loss of freedom, the lack of sleep, the break in career.
So, in the time honoured fashion of the lifelong indecisive type, we have decided to do what so many have before us and simply wait. I’m increasingly certain that part of my indecisiveness stems from not feeling quite ready yet- I want to travel more, have a few more weekends with the ability to sleep late and then drive somewhere for a long lunch and the choice to spend an entire holiday with my nose in a book if I so wish.
Articles in the media have convinced our generation that if women don’t have a child by the time they’re thirty five then its curtains for that part of their life.
These things might not be important to others but they are to me. I’m willing to put them to one side eventually, but not yet, and although everyone says that no-one is ever 100% ready for a baby, I would like to be as close to 100% as I can be.
Articles in the media have convinced our generation that if women don’t have a child by the time they’re thirty five then its curtains for that part of their life. They often go on to suggest that we should all have our children while we’re in our twenties, but for many of us, that simply isn’t or wasn’t an option, money-wise, stable home-wise, or maturity-wise. Rising house prices, cost of university or training and other things we can’t control have conspired to mean that for most people, having a family at twenty-five simply isn’t an option. It’s undeniable that as women we need to be aware of our body clock and fertility, as sadly it isn’t something we have much control over, but equally we shouldn’t be slaves to it- your fertility isn’t going to snap to ‘off’ the moment you hit that mid-thirties birthday. It’s essential that the choice is yours and, where possible, that it is made without panic and to suit you.
The more we do wait the more I think I can see a way forward that works for us and (fate allowing) I’m fairly sure a small human does feature in our future somewhere. If the choice is mine to make then I think I want the future to contain puddle jumping, baby giggles and cuddles I don’t have to hand back, but, for me at least, it’s a huge decision and one that has only come with time and a great deal of soul searching.
Will I be a worse mother for this? I don’t think so, but maybe it does mean I’m one of those women for whom motherhood isn’t a completely comfortable state and it’s definitely something I’ll have to learn and adapt to. Perhaps this is the case for lots of women? I’m not sure- it’s not something we often find it easy to talk about. I worry that if I don’t appear 110% committed to the idea of a child then I would be considered someone who isn’t that bothered but it’s more complicated than that. Some days I desperately want a child of my own.
Other days I am quite happy in my own life and start to plan my next holiday, somewhere not terribly child-friendly. Perhaps that’s okay and over time the scales will tip further in one direction or the other but it does wind its way into your consciousness and I do begin to feel under pressure. One of many sensible online women I know suggested ‘periodical soul searching, thinking deeply and hard and then doing the same thing again a few months later. Ask yourself what you want and keep coming back to the question’. I think this advice is wonderful.
I have no idea what the future holds, but if nothing else, I’m very grateful to have the opportunity even to contemplate this decision, as so many of our ancestors and sisters in other countries did not and do not have. Choice is an immense privilege, I just don’t know which is the right one yet.