I never thought much about having children when I was young. I am an animal lover, so in middle school my idea of a “perfect” family was a husband and a home full of creatures. In my high school and college years I had serious boyfriends, and overtime the concept of having children became more amenable and acceptable- partly due to my innate maternal desire, and partly due to the subconscious pressure to conform to social norms.
I mostly dated men who wanted to have children. My high school boyfriend wanted to become a father someday, and we picked out nicknames for future children. Even as college approached, the reality of us actually getting married and settling down was abstract and so far off; I never had to reconcile my true ambivalence towards the path we were on. We broke up before there was any proposal.
My college boyfriend adored babies, and his paternal drive was so strong it created insecurity as I questioned the veracity of my own ember of desire to be a mother. We, too, broke up before there was any proposal.
Like many of my peers, I spent my early to mid-twenties preoccupied with launching a career and finding a life partner. In my mid-twenties I appreciated being with someone who shared my point of view on most things in life. He, however, was adamantly against becoming a father. I loved the freedom that I had, and was really turned off by how small some parents’ worlds had become once they crossed that chasm. From outside appearances, it looked like they were living a rat race- unsatisfied, exhausted, and just wanting for the kids to grow up and move out. I was genuinely happy for the people I knew who were having babies- It just didn’t feel like it was for me. Still,
Looking back, I can now see that the subtle pangs of wanting to experience motherhood were there. It was the lifestyle that wasn’t for me. Giving up my identity to become “Mom” seemed like the inevitable outcome of becoming pregnant; of course now, I have so many women in my life who model how to integrate children into their lives without giving up who they are. I have even seen motherhood complete them in a way they couldn’t have imagined.
By the time I reached my late twenties my heart was saying “bring it on”, but my mind hadn’t quiet caught up. I remember dating someone who was a couple of years younger than I was, and when we spoke about the desire to have children his outlook surprised me. This free-spirited man proclaimed that “having children is a part of the human experience”. When he looked at his brother, who had a child out of wedlock (to which his family was not very pleased), he didn’t see a man making poor choices. He looked at it as a miracle of life. After hearing his take, I knew where I landed in the decision of to have or not to have.
When I was 29 I realized that I was not going to meet the person I was meant to marry living where I was. If I felt that my home state didn’t offer the life that I wanted, I couldn’t expect to meet my life partner there either. The following January I moved across the country to San Diego, and two months later I met my husband. And I knew within months that I wanted a life- and a family- with him. So then, it became a question of when.