If you should happen to find my 8th grade graduation scrapbook you would discover that my life has not turned out as I expected it to when I was thirteen. My English teacher, Mrs. Cox, gave us various assignments throughout the year which would be put into our scrapbook due upon graduation. Poems, essays, reflections on middle school and our hopes for high school fill the pages, but the only assignment I actually remember was a story I wrote about myself at the age of 25. At the age of 25 I would be living in Italy, Greece or Turkey. I would be single, I wrote, though that might have been because my parents were sure to read it. My primary companion would by my dog who I somehow believed would be able to accompany me on all my adventures. I would be working on my doctorate in anthropology. I would be an expert on something important and historic like a previously lost European empire or Sumerian head-dresses. I would be brilliant and beautiful and capable with no husband and absolutely NO BABIES.
I vehemently did not want children.
I thought my friends who picked out their future babies’ names were crazy. I was quite the feminist, or so I thought. And, I’m afraid to say, I actually began to think a bit poorly of my own mother. I didn’t understand how she could resign herself being a stay-at-home-mom. Wasn’t it bleak and awful? Wasn’t she ruining all the work women had done to break into the workforce? Wasn’t it something only unintelligent people did?
I remained staunchly opposed to having children through most of high school until two things happened. The first was that I started college. I met the most amazing female professors. They were brilliant and beautiful and feminists and wives and mothers and professionals. With them, it somehow all balanced. (It might’ve helped that I was becoming a tad more open minded!). I realized feminism isn’t what I thought it was. I realized my mother was a feminist in her own way. She wanted to have children, she felt lucky she didn’t have to work for a paycheck and raising my sister and I was her fulltime job. And what’s the point of feminism anyway if women can’t be who they want to be?
The second thing that changed my mind was my boyfriend who I knew would definitely become my husband. He loved children and had always wanted to be a father. I saw him with kids and he was amazing. He was seriously born to be a dad. And I realized a major component of having children (for me) is someone to have them with! I couldn’t imagine myself a mother until I imagined us as parents. I didn’t want to have children with a vague imaginary “future husband”. But I definitely wanted children with this amazing man whom I loved.
Of course, coming to that decision doesn’t make it less scary. I’m a planner and a worrier. I don’t know when my husband and I will have children, but I’m already planning for them and worrying about them! I worry about the same things Sarah does, the same things many of us do. What will my children’s lives be like? What challenges will they face? Is my genetic material even worth creating a new human being with?!
Ultimately, I’ve come to the same conclusion many of us do: Having children is a selfish, self centered, ridiculous thing to do. And I will probably do it anyway. I selfishly want my own children whom I will name and nurture and make all major decisions for. I self-centeredly believe that somehow my children will be important in this world, that they will be smart and do great things and make the world a better place. I ridiculously want to experience childbirth, tantrums, picky eating and permanent marker scribbled on my belongings.
In recent years my husband and I started seriously thinking about adoption and have decided it’s definitely the way to go for us. I still selfishly, self-centeredly and ridiculously want children... but maybe through our decision to adopt, I’m being a tiny bit less self-centered about it? That’s my hope at least. With so many children in the world whose parents are unable to care for them, it seems the least I could do as a woman who wants and is able to care for a child. We hope to start the adoption process in the coming year!
Finally, I’d like to leave you with this dire warning from one of my favorite movies:
If you’d like to read more about us and our adoption plans, take a look at my blog Motu Viget Many thanks to Sarah for asking me to contribute my thoughts!