In the past 6 months I’ve received various inquiries into the state of my womb, specifically about the fact that it’s empty.
When visiting my mom* on the East Coast recently, I reconnected with an aunt whom I haven’t seen since my kid days. I warmed to her immediately; her personality fills a room.
[*I have two moms through a remarriage (dad’s) – one on the East Coast, one in Texas (with dad).]
After exchanging pleasantries and hugs, my aunt said,
“Keisha, you don’t want no husband or children?” It didn’t seem so much a question, but more of a statement of fact. The implication being that if I hadn’t done something by now, I’m not going to.
I laughed. “I wouldn’t say that. It’s not that easy.” I explained that I hadn’t met the right person and have no interest in being a single parent by choice.
I also met a new cousin, my aunt’s tween son, whom my aunt said she calls he`r “menopause baby” because her other four children were nearly grown when she had him.
“May I ask how old you were when he was born?”
She counted silently before saying “35 or 36?”
“35 or 36?! That’s not menopause!”
She shrugged, “Yeah, I guess not. How old are you again?” She leaned back on the maroon leather couch.
Her eyebrows raised slightly; I could see her contemplating how much longer I have in Fertile-ville.
I interrupted her thoughts with, “I’m thinking of getting my eggs frozen.”
She nodded, “I’ve heard about that.”
That seemed to placate her as she turned her attention back to the movie playing the background, White Chicks.
It’s true. Several women I know aged 35+, have chosen to freeze their eggs.
Mere minutes later, my mom, whose quieter nature balances my aunt’s more boisterous one, let out:
“Do you know I am the only one of all my brothers and sisters [all 7 of them] who doesn’t have any grandchildren?”
“You should talk to your other daughter,” I teased her, referring to my younger sister.
A couple of months later, during a call with another older relative with whom I speak regularly, she commented as we were discussing her upcoming 7-th birthday, “I hope I’m around to see you have your first child.”
I know she didn’t mean for her words to sting, but they kind of did. Sometimes septuagenarians keep it a little too real. Still, I agree, if the kids are gonna happen, it’d be nice for them to meet her. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do about that though.
A few weeks after, I was chatting to my Texas mom when she non sequitured:
“I miss holding a baby on my chest. I want to be a grandmother. Hold a baby for a week.”
“You have two grandchildren!” I reminded her, speaking of my niece and nephew, my oldest sister’s children.
“They are not babies anymore!” They sure aren’t. My little nephew ain’t so little anymore and he speaks with a man’s voice. He’ll be attending college soon. The last time I visited, my niece – his younger sister – asked me about my makeup and jewelry.
I suppose I should take it as a good sign that people are even asking me about my baby plans. At some point, if I still don’t have children, people will stop asking because they’ll assume I’ve moved into uterine retirement and it’s a moot point. Though, that day may not come for a while longer if the trend of women having children in their 40s and 50s continues.
I read an article not too long ago that mentioned how more and more women are admitting to ambivalence toward motherhood.
I appreciate articles like this that cover an often overlooked perspective. It’s as though as women we’re supposed to feel strongly one way or the other about having kids. Like there’s no room for a less vehement conviction. I can see a future for myself with or without kids.
I think I’d like to be a mom. I know I would work hard at it. Occasionally, I’ll see a chubby-cheeked brown baby or toddler who looks like they could be mine and I think about what my children might look like. Then again, some days I really appreciate being able to sleep in and only having to deal with swatting away the cat. And quite frankly, I have personal misgivings about from time to time about bringing another human into this at times, terrible, scary world.
With each passing birthday, I wonder if that will be the year I’m suddenly going to be overcome with hormone-infused baby obsession. Where every man I approach is not just a man, but a potential co-conspirator in baby-production shenanigans. “Is it you? Are you my baby’s daddy? You smell like you’d be a good dad. Do you have parents within a two-hour radius who could help with childrearing? It takes a village, you know. How do you feel about spanking, co-sleeping and helicopter parents?” The day has yet to arrive.
That’s not to say that there aren’t women who have clearly defined views on personal motherhood. I have friends who say they knew they wanted to be a mom the instant they picked up their first babydoll. On the other hand, I know more than a few women whom are content to be awesome aunts. For them, kids are cool as long as they can be returned to sender. Then there are those who would rather kids stay the hell away from them, the creepy creatures.
Maybe one day I’ll be a mom, but it’s possible that kids of my own aren’t in my future. I know what my options are and I will do what I can to maximize them, but I’m not interested in spending too much energy stressing out about it.
A guy I once dated lectured me: “Keisha, as an intelligent, successful black woman, don’t you feel somewhat morally obligated to produce and raise the next generation’s successes? We need people like you to have children.”
As if I don’t have enough on my shoulders.
If you are a parent, did you always know you wanted to have children? If you don’t have children, do you have strong feelings one way or the other about having kids? Or are you ambivalent?