There’s a distinct pressure on women of a “certain age” when it comes to having children. Typically, society says that if you’re in a committed relationship for long enough, and you’re old enough (whatever that means), you should be talking about (or at least thinking about) when you’ll have kids.
Which is crap.
And ya know what else is crap? When it’s not society saying when you should have kids, but your own mother.
I’ve been with my boyfriend for six years. Around year four, my mom started asking “... so, do you think you’ll get married soon and have a kid.”
At first, I laughed it off. Thinking she was just being coy, I dismissed my mom’s initial comments. They were kind of cute, I remember thinking.
My best friend had her first son two years ago, her second just recently. When it was announced I’d be the godmother of baby number 2, my mom immediately began going down, what I like to think of as, a downward spiral of “grandma-guilt”.
“Oh, I just can’t wait to be a grandma,” she’d tell me.
“Everyone at work says I am going to be such a great grandma, someday. When is someday, Theresa?”
Or the worst offense yet: a comment on a photo of me and my nephew on MY Facebook with “AH! I just want to be a grandma!”
Here’s the thing: I am not entirely sure I want kids.
And I’ve only really ever said that out loud to a few close girlfriends. Saying it makes me feel, in some way, like I am saying something wrong.
I’m not saying kids are off the table. And I’m not saying I haven’t thought about what I might name a little girl, or what a handsome nugget a little boy with my boyfriend’s eyes would be. But I am saying that there are a lot of things I am certain of for my life right now…
I want to break the glass ceiling. I want to smash it so hard that every woman under me is left wondering “where did that ceiling even go?”
I want to travel to new and exciting places.
I want to try new foods.
I want to buy every toy and treat in sight for my pupper (you can see where the conflict of interest would be with a child, right?).
I want to read, at the moment, at least 15 different books.
I want to spend all my money on shoes (and I do).
… Kids are not something I am certain of.
Society might call me “selfish,” but I don’t want to have to trade-off a career, travel, and my addiction to shoes for motherhood.
But how do I say that to a woman who worked full-time as a mother?
How do I explain to her that the thrill I feel with every inch I climb up the corporate ladder is not something I think I can adequately feel while also being the mother I need to be?
So I say nothing.
I joke it off “I don’t know mom, maybe I don’t want kids,” I tell her.
“OF COURSE you do!” she replies.
But let me be real for a second: she’s dead wrong and there’s nothing I can say to convince her of that.
I could tell her that I don’t know how I’d share my full-time job and motherhood. I could tell her how I can’t stand the pressures society puts on working moms. I could tell her that I am downright terrified that I won’t be as good of a mom as I need to be. As good of a mom as she was.
This is a woman who was present at Every. Single. Thing.
I’m talking PTO meetings, soccer games (for three kids in three different leagues), twirling competitions in Timbuktu, recitals, performances, parent-teacher meetings, hell, even when she wasn’t “there” she was lurking behind some bush. Seriously, she used to sit in her car (before the iPhone!) and just wait outside my track practice in case I needed her. Or my friends, on a Friday night, would casually mention that they saw her sitting in a parking lot or “driving by” wherever we were.
How the hell am I supposed to compare to that? How am I supposed to be that mom and travel, smash the glass ceiling, read all the books, and buy all the shoes?
So for now, I don’t think I want to.
It’s not a great that my mom is the one putting that kind of pressure on me. But as much as I love her, this is one area of my life where I’ve got to put my own feelings first, even if they hurt someone else’s.
And what a wonderful moment of clarity that realization gives a gal.