After dating for 4.5 years, my husband and I eloped to Paris in December 2019. Naturally, the next topic on everyone’s minds is children. I had always vacillated between motherhood and uncertainty, but my husband was pretty clear he was uninterested in a family. Being nearly 17 years my senior, there was an established comfort in his current lifestyle, and at 32 I was pretty well adjusted myself.
However, like anything in my life, I decided to research the topic to death in hopes of ultimately settling my thoughts one way or another. Enter this article. It offered a unique perspective and line of questioning that I could appreciate, and caused me to evaluate my options through a new lens.
Several points that resonated with me for the Cliff’s Notes fans out there:
- Regret. There’s an argument around having kids that goes something like – if you don’t have a child, you’ll regret it. The article declares that amazing life experiences often arise out of fear of regret. Concepts like – If I don’t take this job, I may regret it! If I don’t move, I may regret it! And there’s something to be said about these wonderful outcomes that are born from fear of regret.
- Loss. With either route, there will be loss, and we need to recognize those feelings. The loss of the lifestyle, independence, selfishness, flexibility (and dare I say a small amount of jealousy from our child-bearing friends) that comes with being DINKs, or…the loss of the family unit, unconditional love, selflessness, and most natural human experience of childbirth and raising a family. (Btw, is “DINK” still en vogue? Asking for a friend…)
- Future. The author asks you to look decades into the future and start putting handles on what you see. Where are you living? How are you living? How do you spend your free time? What does work look like? What does your family unit look like? By visualizing detailed elements, it helps you create an ideal future scenario, which can help you better determine whether a child will fit into that picture or not.
So here’s my take on the above. Let’s start with regret. This one doesn’t resonate, but I can see how it might drive others. Instead of regret, in life I’ve taken its sister approach – more of the “why not” or “everything has a way of working out” mentality. I tend to make decisions because I think I’m clever and smart and perhaps more importantly – lucky, and so I feel that no matter what path I choose, it always has a way of working out.
However, the idea of loss really spoke to me. Amid the echo chamber of conversations around regret and losing out on raising a family, this fresh argument addressing the loss of the independent lifestyle was one I could appreciate. Without getting defensive, it allowed me to dig a little deeper into what exactly I’d be losing out on and evaluate just how important those things were to me in a big picture sense.
Which brings me to the third exercise – the future. After figuring out what I really appreciated in my life, I started envisioning my lifestyle years ahead into the future. I thought about things like how I would spend my time, who I would spend time with, what I would do for pleasure, what I would spend my money on, where I would be living, etc.
This destiny started feeling more real with each detail. For starters, given our age gap, my husband would likely be gone several years before me. And despite my lifelong commitment to being the “Cool Auntie” and spending copious amounts of time, money and energy on my niblings in their youth…would they forget about me? Would I become a burden to them? Would they be checking in on their parents before me? All quite likely. While I can’t resent them for living their own (future) lives, I did see a very lonely future for myself.
Once I determined I didn’t want to be old and alone, other thoughts bubbled to the surface – like holidays. I’ve always been enamored with Christmas. I don’t much care for the giving and receiving of “stuff,” but I love the idea of familial traditions, great food, family gatherings, and good conversation. Would my holidays be more fulfilling if there was a little one to share it with? Would the Thanksgiving table feel lacking if we didn’t have a third party present?
Holidays aside, what about some of the other pleasurable moments of life, like travel? My (well-traveled) husband and I prioritize travel above most everything else, and we’ve found a beautiful rhythm to traveling together…me experiencing new things and him showing me his favorite corners of the world. What would it be like to have a little thing in tow, experiencing that same excitement and joy that comes with new discoveries? I imagine seeing the world through little eyes would be like seeing a whole new world all over again, and I could handle that.
So after months of introspection, conversations with my hubby and a little time just sitting with the idea, we determined that a bebe would bring excitement, another level of fulfillment and a whole new purpose to our lives. Sure, it won’t be all champagne and macarons, but I think we’re at a place in our lives where we’re very equipped to handle the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with bringing up bebe (btw, read that book!). The idea of being older parents seems like a bonus, not a setback, and all-in-all, it’s not about regret, loss or concern over the future…it’s more like, why not!?
Coming soon…my thoughts on the French parenting book Bringing up Bébé!