It was just about a week ago I agreed to an article about my thoughts on having kids.
As a 40-year-old career women, an author and work in the relationship space (my husband and I run a matchmaking business), I am asked this question all the time. All the time. It's not even my family asking the question or my dad begging me to be a grandparent. Instead, the question comes mainly from people I have just met, people who find out that I am married and then want to know when I am going to take the next step -- start a family. And quite frankly, it's a pretty sensitive issue. I have realized the more I am asked, the more emotional I am. If you haven't experienced it for yourself yet, the questions go something like this: "So when are you going to have kids," and "Are you talking about having children?" "Do you like kids?" Some people offer me advice: "It will make you really feel like a woman." And inevitably: "You are not getting any younger."
Here's the truth. I don't know if I am going to have kids. What's more, I don't know when I am going to know.
When I see a mom pushing a stroller down the street, I stare at it, trying to picture myself doing the same time. It's a conversation I have had plenty, but there is still no resolution, at least not yet.
I love kids. I love the innocence. I love the smell of them. I love the fact they can make you smile when the rest of your world feels like it's crumbling all around you. But, I don't know if it's for me. And, I do know that the clock is ticking.
I lost my mother when I was young. She died of breast cancer. She was a great mother. It was what she lived for. But, after she died, I was always very scared to love that much again. And so, the idea of a child was never at the forefront of my mind. I put my career there once I got out of school and never gave it much thought -- until last December when I turned 40. Now, I stay awake at night struggling with a whole bunch of questions. Would I be a good mother? Do I want to be a good mother? Am I ready for that? Is it good enough to be an aunt and shower my nephew with all the love I have? And finally, the hardest question of all, can I even have children anymore or has that decision already been made for me?
When the article came out yesterday the headline next to the life-sized photo of me read, "We Say No To Babies and Yes To NYC" More City Women Are Taking A Pass On The Mommy Path. I have not said no to babies, or the mommy path. I have said I don't know. And, apparently I am not alone. The article quotes a study by the Pew Research Center in 2008, stating the number of women between 40 and 44 who've never given birth has increased by 80 percent since 1976. What it does not state is why. There are so many reasons why women don't have children, whether they are like me and have just not figured it out yet or they cannot have children or they have not met the right partner. Finally, there is the group who just don't want kids.
I read a bunch of comments under the article that called childless women "selfish" and "self-centered." Those were the nicer comments. At first I felt sad, then frustrated and then scared. But, I quickly realized that no matter what people say or think, at the end of the day the decision is up to me and I am the only one I have to answer too.
Bottom line: I have not said no to babies and yes to a fabulous life. Those two things can happen at the same time. I have said yes to allowing myself to take the time to make a decision that is right for me.