Whenever a group of married folks with kids and without kids hang out, it doesn’t take long for the conversation to veer its way towards “So, when are you guys going to have children?”
When I ask (and I’m embarrassed when I do, because I used to hate when someone asked me), I don’t mean it in a badgering “mother-in-law wants babies” way. I’m genuinely curious about their life and their plans. Their responses, though, often cause a pang of jealousy in the cockles of my heart.
“We’re waiting until we…travel more, buy a house, get better jobs, pay off our student loans, feel ready…”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with these responses. They are mature and logical. The problem is with me and how I became a parent.
My husband and I weren’t planning on ever having kids. It was something we agreed upon before we ever got married — because I wanted to make sure that whomever I spent the rest of my life with was prepared to spend it with me and just me sans rugrats. The universe is funny, though, and I’m now a mom of two bright and beautiful kids. I wouldn’t trade them or my life now for the world.
But I still have moments when I grieve the life I never got to have. So many of my friends have “plans” to have kids. They’re waiting until the time is right. They have goals they want to achieve and dreams they want to chase after, before embarking on the next stage of their life. My husband and I never had the chance to plan. We barely had time to really settle into marriage before my birth control opted not to work and I got a positive pregnancy test after puking my guts out on a family vacation.
In that stage when our world was turned upside down, we were both too shocked by the massive detour our life was taking that I didn’t stop to think what we would be missing out on. It wasn’t until recently, after having talks with friends who are putting off childbearing, that I see the life I never got to have, the adventures I never got to take, the memories we didn’t have time to make. While we were researching cribs and strollers and making a birth plan, our friends were gallivanting around, doing their own thing, free of newborn responsibilities tying them down.
It’s not that my life with kids is terrible. I have a good life. We’re stable and have a roof over our heads, and my kids make me smile every day. There are evenings, though, when my body is tired but my mind is awake when I can’t help but let it wander down the road of “what could have been.”
The spontaneity we weren’t allowed, the plans which never came to be, the long, slow, quiet weekends when it was just me and my husband — I wish we could have savored that a little bit longer, but the universe had other plans.
I feel no anger toward those in my life who are putting off having kids so they can do things like see the world and make huge leaps in their careers without worrying about how it will affect their family. I fully respect their desires and wishes and admire their maturity for waiting until they feel ready.
I just miss the life I missed out on too.