It’s taken a long time to realise it but now I see I’ve always been ambivalent about having children.
There was a period in my late 30s, when the clock was ticking fast, when I thought I definitely wanted to be a mum and I blamed all the men I met for not wanting to settle down quickly and have a family.
And ever since I’ve been with my partner, whose been against having children from the start, I’ve seen him as the obstacle – the person standing in the way of my motherhood dreams. In my mind, he’s been firmly in the ‘No’ camp and I’ve been in the ‘Yes’ camp when it comes to having a baby.
But I understand now it’s not as clear-cut as that. The lines are more blurred.
Since I committed to being in a relationship with my partner some 19 months ago, realising it was probably too late for me to contemplate having biological children but that I wanted to give love my best shot, I’ve come to see that I’ve been unsure about kids all along.
There are plenty of things I’ve really wanted in my life – to travel around the world, to live abroad, to be a journalist, to work for Reuters, to buy a Vespa – and generally, I’ve just gone and done them. Now, I’m not saying having children is as simple or straightforward as any of the above, but I do believe that if I’d known for sure that’s what I truly wanted, I’d have done something about it.
I’ve met plenty of women who did. For the book I’m writing, I’ve interviewed a number of women who, like me, had reached their late 30s or 40s without having children. But unlike me, they knew they wanted a baby more than anything else so they made it happen.
They quit jobs, downsized, moved cities to be close to parents and turned their lives upside down. They sought out sperm donors, egg donors and subjected their bodies to endless tests and injections. Motherhood hadn’t worked out the traditional way so they took an alternative route.
I could have done that. Single, in my early 40s, I could have sold my London flat, moved closer to my family and done my utmost to create a baby in a clinic on Harley Street. But I didn’t.
On the one hand, I was naively holding out for the fairytale ending – when everything works out just as I want it to and I end up with a gorgeous partner and two wonderful kids. But on the other hand, maybe I knew deep down that I wanted something else – a loving relationship with a man first and foremost.
It’s not surprising I felt ambivalent about motherhood, given how ambivalent I’ve felt about so many things in my life. Therapy has helped me see why that is and I look forward to exploring the reasons for my ambivalence in a future post.
In the meantime, if you’re ambivalent about having children, I’d say don’t give yourself a hard time. Maybe just accept it, acknowledge it, stop blaming the guys and start to discover why.