Sunday, October 21, 2007

Children Thoughts

So even before I got married, the question of "when are you going to have children" is one that has been in the air. Even my roommate in college bought me a card when I was first engaged saying "Well, now we don't have to ask when you're going to get engaged. So, when are you going to have a baby?"

Granted, it's a natural question. The general pattern of life is that one does get married and then goes and has children. However, why does everyone think they have the right to ask?

Now, I'm referring here to people who are essentially complete strangers to me or even acquaintances from work etc - but not people who I count as good friends or family. When they start questioning Chris or I when we are going to have kids, why don't we have kids, etc, it's a little irritating! Stop and think about that for a moment. In my small world, I know of at least three women who desperately want to have children and who physically cannot get pregnant. Having that question asked can completely devestate those women and, quite frankly, explaining all that to someone who really has no business asking, is not something that those women should be subject to. Now, fortunately, as far as I know, I should be able to have children just fine. However, these strangers who don't know me or my situation have no idea the reasons why we don't have kids yet - how do they know they aren't causing cruelty in their question? How do they know I'm not just holding my head up because I have to while inside I'm dying to have children?

Another common argument that has been presented to us is that having children is pleasing to God and something we should be doing, etc. And yet, I have to question those people who bring this up by asking about the (yes, even Christian families) families who have children, ship them off to daycare within weeks of their being born so they can go back to work and live out their oh so important working, adult lives, allowing their children to be brought up by virtual strangers for the major hours of the day and - even more importantly - those children's major developmental years. And, yes, I completely understand that in many cases they have no option about this - but there are also many cases where they do have options and they simply don't feel it is [a] important enough that they be home with their children and make them be their priority or [b] they like their job and career to much, are afraid they would simply be bored at home, and really don't see the importance of their being around. And, yes, I have had some of these actual conversations with women! Is it right to bring a child into the world and then to abandon it to strangers in daycare? Is it pleasing to God?

Anyhoo...these ideas are ones that quite commonly Chris and/or I face. And thoughts of children are ones that have been dancing around my brain quite a bit more of late. Some of it is the realization that come December I will have been married six years, and the social norm part of my brain is saying, it's about time to have kids. Some of it is that my sister-in-law recently married a widower with two children, so of course, in a previously childless arm of a family, that idea has been pushed to the forefront. Some of it is that my friends all around me are beginning to have children and it feels kind of like "the thing to do!" And some of it is the fact that I really do adore babies and love playing with kids, building relationships with them, and just the general idea of their existance!

And don't get me wrong. I want to have children some day. I know that for sure. However, I keep running into the question of do I want to have children soon? In the next few years, are we looking at changing the current course of our life?

Some days I look at that question and say "yes, I think I do." And yet, more often, I look at that question and say, "I'm not sure." And while some people have told me that you never are 100% sure of wanting to start the children process, you just get used to it, I somewhat dislike that attitude. I know women who unconditionally have wanted a baby, even in their sometimes moments of saying, "I don't know if I'm ready for this" they still have had that urge, that drive to bring a child into the world, to hold a baby, to create someone beautiful. I don't like being half-hearted about things, and quite frankly, I don't want to go into this time questioning whether or not I want this.l

I wonder sometimes if my moments of "sure I want a baby sometime soon" are not simply the results of the subconscious social pressures we feel all around us so often. Those pressures that say, you're nearly 27, you've been married a good number of years, you're young, you're capable, you need to start having children. The same social pressures or expectations that cause people to ask personal questions like, "So when are you having kids?"

Far too often, I look at the life I have right now and say, "No, I'm not ready for that step." I feel like I'm still growing up, that there are things that need to be resolved, developed, whatever you want to call it, before I'm really ready to devote my life to a child. There are days when I wake up and, quite frankly, the thought of not being able to curl up for hours on the couch and ignore the rest of the world while burying myself in the adventures of this fictional character or another, distresses me! And yet, there are other days, when I think of doing different things with a child - going to the apple farm to pick apples, playing in the parks with children, holding a child, loving them, teaching them - sounds like the most delightful experience imaginable.

I desperately want to be a stay-at-home mom; that is a huge priority for me. And quite frankly, if I were to have a child right now, I don't know how we would make it work. I can't bear the thought of leaving my child in the arms of a stranger so that I can go work eight hours a day. I can't bear the thought of having a child who doesn't go through that stage of "I adore my Mummy because she's the most important being in my life" because Mummy has never been there for that child! I've seen those children, and it breaks my heart.

And, there's another part of me that recognizes the limitations (worth it - but still limitations) that come with children. I still have yens to see so many places, to travel, to experience new cultures and people and ideas. And having children does limit some of those options. Oh, yes, we could move overseas and/or still travel somewhat, but not like you can when there are only two to pay for and not three or four or five. And I've seen quite a few older people in the last few years who have hit retirement age, are finally free to do what they want to do - and yet for so many of them, going to Branson is a huge event and the thought of walking the streets of Paris, seeing the Pyramids of Egypt, touching the Great Wall of China, is very tiring and not something they have a great desire to do!

So, to answer the question that apparently everyone seems to interested in asking lately: When are we going to have children? I have to say, "I don't know!" Possibly in the next few years. Possibly not for several years after that! I guess we'll have to see where the argument flows. In the meantime, I will continue to test the question out from time to time (not trying to bias my answer because of the impertinent inquiries of virtual strangers!). And I will enjoy the life that has been given to me now, at this time, as it is.

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