Oh, Baby! It’s a Child World

For so many things in my life, I played the waiting game, and was a late bloomer. Late to start dating, late to have sex (I’d even argue too late), late to get married, and late to have children. The latter – children – I haven’t even had yet, but my husband and I are considering it. Thinking about it, planning it. And I’d be lying if I didn’t own that I am 100% terrified at the thought.

At 43 years old, is it too late for me to have kids? Is it selfish? Dangerous? Foolish?

Or, is it wonderful? And right? And for me, for the path life took me on, absolutely on-time?

These are all impossible questions to answer introspectively, sitting in my office, writing. I can’t know the answers just by worrying about them, and yet – because I am finally facing the real reality of getting preggo, and not just flirting with the idea of a baby, I can do little else but ponder all of these outcomes and more.

For most of my adult life, I’ve been focusing on not getting pregnant. Now, that wasn’t strictly because I was having safe sex. It was mostly because I wasn’t having sex at all, and the few times I did have sex, I did so very carefully and mindfully. Then, as time passed and my age continued to creep (as it does), the thought of having children began to diminish. And the decision to not become pregnant became focused. Intended.

At 40, when I wasn’t married, wasn’t dating, and didn’t really see either of these realities changing, I came face to face with my singleness, shook its hand and made friends. I was…if not content, at least not bemoaning or pitying my state of spinsterhood. And in fact, scratch that last statement: I was content. I had a life that I was loving. I had a good job that paid me a very good salary. I had managed to set aside enough money for a decent nest egg, had bought my first home and was ready to just get on with life, sans children, and possibly sans a man, as well.

Although, finding another man was always less murky to me than motherhood. I knew that so long as I was open to the chance and out in the world, living life, I could meet someone and we could get married, age notwithstanding. But having babies…that had a time-stamp on it. So when I hadn’t met someone by my late thirties, it’s not that I started to believe I wouldn’t get married, more – I had to make peace with the fact maybe I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, have kids.

So I did. I made lists of the things I wanted to do, and I did them. Learn to speak Italian? (I signed up for classes). Travel (Obviously, and as frequently as possible). Buy a home. (Condo in Cleveland Park, check, check). Forget about the rest (Done and done). The way I saw it, I had little choice but the forget the rest because any other option – fret and worry; pine and be pissed; cry and be sad…about not having a husband and maybe not having a family was a waste of spirit. I couldn’t make those things happen with wanting them to, and for that matter, I wasn’t interested in trying. I wanted to live my life and live it creatively, not reactively.  And more than anything, I didn’t want to mature into that old woman, the one who – when looking back on her younger years, realizes all she did…all those beautiful years of her youth when she had the time, the will, the money and the interest to do just about anything – instead chose to spend her time worrying about something she DIDN’T HAVE.

Then, the summer I turned 41, which was also summer I bought my first house and put on my big girl panties and just decided to get on with life and forget everything else…the summer I just stopped worrying about being single – I met my husband. Naturally.

And now, three years later, I’m again facing the right turn to parenthood on a road I thought I bypassed long ago…and I’m scared. Plain and simple. I know how to be a single person. And I’m learning how to be a wife, and I’m sure I could learn to be a mom, but at 44…what will that look like? Will it be just that much harder because at our age, my husband and I are older and with that comes more maturity, more (bad?) habits…more set-in-our-ways thinking? Will it be harder because when my kid is 10, I’ll be 53, and maybe looking forward to things getting easier, not more complicated?

Will it be harder because all of my siblings and my husband’s too – they all had their kids decades ago?  So automatically, our children are bereft of the chance at a tight-knit cousin/family bond simply due to age. Ditto for many of my closest friends: their kids are mostly teenagers or fully-grown by now. Will my kid be the cheese, standing alone?

And what about my life, my friends? I know it’s so awful to admit this but when each and every one of my sisters and girlfriends got pregnant, I hated that they suddenly had no time for me or for us, and almost constantly talked about their damn pregnancy or what their babies were doing or wearing or eating or not eating. I hated that feeling of being tossed away and baby moving into my place – even though I knew, with zero doubt, that wasn’t what was happening, and that my friends were likely just as bewildered by the change as I.

And then there’s this. I still have some very close friends who are single. Will I become that friend to them? Will I no longer have time for those friendships, and will our conversations suddenly only be about throw up and diapers and ear infections and poop? I don’t want to become that friend, that mom.

I tell myself this won’t happen. I’ll never become so busy with being a parent that I neglect my friendships or never have any me-time, but I know that is a lie. If experience is any guide, I will become at least a shade of that person because in one form or another, this is what happens to all moms. I also think telling myself it won’t happen is missing the point. Of course things will change and of course I’ll be busy and of course…I will neglect my friends, if only temporarily, because that is part of being.a.parent. Part of being responsible for another human being, one who can’t fend for themselves, and who needs constant care and attention so they can grow and become the kind of responsible, loving adult who repeats the cycle, and returns the favor.

Hubby tells me I worry/think too much (hello, introvert Aquarian writer, comes with the DNA), and that if anyone ever thought of the enormity of having kids, they’d never do it. And I know he’s right. And of course, I also know that change though they did, my relationship with my friends who are now moms is still as important, and strong, and wonderful as ever. They haven’t tossed us, or me, away because they became a mom, and neither will I.

Being a mom isn’t a role I thought life was going to give me, but now that there’s a possibility I might actually get the gig, I know I can’t let fear dictate my performance. I lived that life for far too long…waiting to enjoy far too many things. It’s only when I stopped worrying and drop-kicked those shitty fears to the curb that life came streaming in, and even I know that’s not something to take lightly.  Late I may be, but maybe being a mom, later in life, is what I’ve been waiting for all these years? It’s at least an idea worth considering.

Photo: Bigstock