There comes a time in everyone’s life when the question of children is raised. The proverbial “So –“ long pause – “when are you having kids?” is a question that haunts most couples that have been together for longer than a year – engaged, married or otherwise. Ordinarily you have a response ready, whether it’s a deflection of time or a planned strategy there is always an answer, and with that, there is always a reason. But what happens when your reason diminishes? What happens when you realise that actually you have no reason to hide behind?
Recently there have been spates of couples around me that have been popping out little bundles of joy. Having been together for nearly a decade, and married for two years, my husband and I are a well-oiled machine in the art of deflection. The automatic response has always stoutly been that kids aren’t on our agenda for a long while yet, and it was always said with strong conviction.
Recently things have changed. I have started to get broody. A passing ‘aww’ as a little bundle of new born passes has now developed into looking at baby clothes in clothing shops…because I’m just passing. I find myself thinking of life as a mother; the pregnancy, the first few months of being utterly in love with our own little baby, and even the long nights of soothing a whimpering sick child. None of this is helped by the increasing amounts of times I catch my husband holding a child, and I think how much it suits him.
But here’s the thing; impending broodiness aside (I’m pretty certain my ovaries start crying every time a baby is within a mile radius) I really don’t want to have children yet. It’s a strange balance that seems to be in my mind between fulfilling the need and desire to have children and really not wanting them. Weeks go by and all I can think of is having a family – we’ve even had serious discussions about names – but it is always underlined by the notion of not being ready to give up the couple’s life.
Increasingly people are putting off having children until their thirties, an army I think I’m on track to join, and that’s fine. If it works it works. But can you put off children, I mean with a clear conscience, when you almost yearn for them?
Of course you can. Broodiness is not an expectation that you must imperatively fulfil. It a natural instinct. It’s about knowing yourself and your life well enough to know when you are ready. Of course I’m broody, I’ve been with a steady partner for nearly a decade, everyone around me is having children, I am the “right” age to be having them, but I am not ready for the sleepless nights, the rigidity of a routine that isn’t mine, the disruption to the house, the crying, the screaming, and the tantrums. Christ, I’m not ready to have to think about how to introduce the dog to a baby and teach him how to be gentle…..I’m still working on getting him to stop chasing the cat!
Ignoring broodiness is not an act of defiance. It’s prevention of regret and not being able to give parenting your all. The days of having kids to fulfil the requirement to procreate are gone. There’s more of a choice to extending your family now and by measuring your decision to embark on the journey into parenthood you might have to look broodiness square in the eye and tell it no. It’s ok to be broody but not want kids; broodiness is nature’s way of telling you that your body is ready, but ultimately its your decision that counts.
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