April 16, 2012

Feeling Left Out

I've always been told that there's a feminine clock and that one day, I'd really, strongly, *want* nay *need* my own baby. It would appear that my clock is broken.

Pushing closer to 40 than 30, I have to admit that while I love my two nieces and one nephew, and, in fact, I love kids in small doses, I've never felt an honest longing for my own child.

Quite the opposite, in fact. I love the week I spend with my oldest niece each year (and I recognize how lucky I am that her parents let her visit us). But I relish my free time alone with my husband when she leaves.

I figure I'll arrange for 2-3 weeks per year for the family and friend kids we want to sponsor. Even if oldest niece decides we're not her gig as she gets older, I'll still be back-up babysitter and Auntie for other family and the local friends' kids we love and adore.

You'd think the time I spend with others' kids should trigger something, but I still don't yearn for my own child. Lately, though, I feel completely left out of the whole kid thing. Conversations turn the kid corner and they don't return. The obvious aloneness that I've chosen for myself hurts, so by some rights, I guess there is a building feeling of something for a kid.

Given my mother-in-law's offer to come to California and live near us for a year if we have a kid, coupled with all of my close friends' pregnancies, miscarriages, toddler dramas, etc, [OH AND THE REALITY THAT I AM PUSHING 40] -- I'm feeling strong pressure to get pregnant.

When I look at it, it's not the biological drive to propagate my genetics. I feel fairly confident that my siblings and cousins are bound to manage that one without my help.

And it's not that I actually want to be pregnant or raise a child.

Nope, this one is all about social ostracism.

And, as a female on the later side of child bearing age who is happily married, my husband's and my choice to not have children feels like I have intentionally chosen to be removed from a very important portion of the normal social dynamics of my cohort. Which, of course, sucks.

This weekend, at a wedding in Savannah (which with 28 weddings on Saturday, was essentially the stereotypical wedding capital of the U.S.), we were not the kids partying 'til 3 AM and unable to remember the night, but we were also not the families who left at 10 PM to remove their screeching babies or to relieve their babysitters.

We probably answered the "Do you have kids?" or "When are you having kids?" question at least 20 times. Usually to very confused faces.

As the majority of our friends start to enter the family phase of their lives, they want to share their experiences with others who are going through the same thing. This makes perfect sense.

I, too, would like to share my current experiences with others who are going through the same thing. The difference is, there really aren't very many people I know who are in my boat.

When I look at successful professional women, most of them have children as well. A majority of their professional conversations about being a woman are all about balancing their children with their career.

I can't deny that the miracle of life is a fascinating thing and the fact that women can have children is definitely one of the more cool things about being a woman. But, I'm also pretty sure having a kid because I feel left out is not a very good reason.

I'm putting this out there because, lately, I do feel the pressure of time with respect to getting pregnant. Not in the biological clock, "Oh my goodness, I might not be able to have a child which I desperately want" sense, but rather in the, "You are slowly losing your opportunity to be what the majority of society thinks is a true woman" sense.

I'm not sure what to think about that, but I do want to think it through while I still have time.


Anonymous said...

Although I have always known I wanted children, my family on my dad's side had a lot of childless couples. I am a firm believer that part of the beauty of being a woman in this age is the choice of whether or not to reproduce (thank you birth control) and its not required we all be baby factories. Its such an ingrained social idea that you get married, and of course you will have children, but I know many people who decided not to and are doing just fine way past their 40s. And they are even better at spoiling all the babies around them! Don't make decisions based on pressure. After all, someone has to blaze the trail!

Biting Tongue said...

Thanks for the input BeeBeeZfa!

I'm pretty sure the external pressure alone won't make me change my mind, but I appreciate your support.

Really, I'm curious about how I have to be honest that it is getting to me (which external pressure usually doesn't). So I'm wondering if, perhaps, it's actually getting to me because there's something internal that agrees with the idea.

Or, maybe it's just such a strong cultural norm in my day-to-day life that it's harder to ignore than most external pressures. Definitely interesting to think about.

Arvay said...

100% with you, sista. Imagine my astonishment to learn that I actually really like kids, but nevertheless still do not want any!

Although if I were to get pregnant accidentally, after years of careful, active birth control, I'd have the kid and raise it. No question. I think I'd be a good mom, but I'd definitely have to have it thrust upon me for it to happen.