Last night, I had a conversation with my SIL about parenthood. We philosophized about when one knows one is ready to become a mom. I’ve read somewhere that for most women the maternal instinct kicks in somewhere between her early to late thirties. Just about the same time her biological clock starts ticking. I guess for most this age makes sense too in terms of the natural progression of events.
By mid-thirties most women would be done with school (graduate degrees and all), would have already had (or are having) successful careers, would have had lots of time to find herself, would have had plenty of time for girlfriends and girls’ nights out, would have had her share of meaningful and meaningless relationships, would have had experienced being in love and getting over love, and is most probably close to (or already at) the stage of settling down. So, after the honeymoon and adjusting to married life, what’s next? For most, having kids is the next logical step, especially if we choose to follow society’s predetermined path.
I have been giving that a lot of thought. I have now had a year and a half to settle into my thirties and have pretty much had my share of living the single life before settling down with the love of my life. We have been married almost two years now. We are both the “right age”, pretty stable financially, have good jobs, a nice home, are decent human beings, belong to good families, go to church regularly, and have never been arrested for anything. Does that make us ready? What is “ready” anyway?
Lately the more I spend time with my nieces and nephews, the more I’m excited with the thought of having kids of my own. I’ve spent time coming up with baby names and enjoy browsing the children’s section in department stores planning my baby’s nursery and what adorable outfits to buy. I actually look forward to babysitting and getting to practice my parenting skills.
On the other hand, every time I talk to my SILs and my friends who have gone thru pregnancies, childbirth and the traumas of first-time motherhood, I am actually more than a little scared that maybe I’m not quite ready yet. Just thinking about it sometimes really unnerves me. I keep thinking what if I’m not a good enough mom, what if I never learn how to change a poopy diaper, what if my kids like their nanny more than they’ll like me, and a million other what ifs. I’m actually a little bit terrified when my baby niece starts crying and I’m at a loss as to why such a tiny thing can make such loud noises.
I mean, yes, I enjoy kids and can spend hours playing, talking, singing, and eating with them. But at the end of the day, I’m also a little relieved when their moms and dads take over when the crying and the tantrums start. Maybe I just want to be the “fun aunt” and not the “responsible mom”. Does that make sense? And is so, is that really very horrible of me?
How do you really know when you’re ready? Am I over-thinking this too much? And is there such a thing as “selective maternal instinct”? I think that’s what I have. There are days when I am sure I’m ready and I want to have kids. And then there are days when I think, life is good, maybe we should enjoy the peace and quiet a few years more? Is this normal? Am I normal? Thank god my hubby (though I know he wants to have kids already) has not added to my mental pressure!
My mom used to tease us that she grew grey hairs because we drove her crazy while we were growing up. In my case, I’m starting early and driving myself crazy worrying about my kids before I even conceive them!