I want to have children, just not now.
I like my life. I like its mix of spontaneity and plans. I like eating out and sleeping in. I like having dinner with my wife and walking to dessert and then just bumming around for a bit. I like seeing movies and exploring new places. I like traveling. And I do like the idea of having a child and experiencing all of these things together… I just don’t like it now.
On the other hand.
I want to be a dad. I’m more curious about what it’ll be like than I’ve ever been, and I’m beginning to feel something like confidence in my readiness to parent. I’m cautiously eager to experience the emotional rewards that I’m hopeful will come with having a child. I’m excited to raise a good person.
I also want my wife to be a mom, and my child to know my parents. I want to know my parents as grandparents. And I’m sitting on so many dad jokes.
I’m at a point in my life where I’m feeling less productive and creative than I have in the past, and the familiar outlets that I entertain myself with and spend my free time on have either dried up or are less interesting than they used to be. I’m beginning to suspect that my heart is pointing me in a new direction, but I’m not sure where. Is having a child the easy way out? Some giant, buttoned-up, and, to be fair, pretty complicated lifelong plan that’ll give me a sense of productivity and accomplishment, without addressing the deeper issue of why my old interests are no longer as appealing to me? I don’t think so. I think my curiosity of parenthood is genuine.
But I’m not sure. Each year I find myself less excited about what’s on deck in the annual routine: In the summer we swim and play; in the fall we hike and plan; in the winter we cozy and eat; in the spring we refresh. I love all of that (very much), but I’m feeling an itch to love something else.
And you know what doesn’t help?
Everyone around me is having babies! I’m an only child and didn’t grow up around young kids, so figuring out how I feel about them has been an interesting and introspective process. After an initial awkwardness (really, I am so awkward), it’s occurred to me that maybe the reason I never had a strong urge to be around children was because I never had the opportunity. Making a kid smile is way more rewarding than I’d anticipated. I like watching them grow up, and I love seeing my friends be parents. They’re all very good at it.
I know all children and experiences are different, and I’m sure parenthood will be different than what I’m witnessing and imagining. Though while I like to think that my friends becoming parents doesn’t affect whether I want to have a kid, it’s hard not to confess that it’s probably leaving an impression.
On the other hand… tantrums, sleep deprivation, enormous responsibility, babysitters, school, money, personal space, personal time, spontaneity… there are a lot of considerations around the reality of parenthood that my friends have made me painfully aware of.
Here’s what I’m thinking. I’ve got a good argument for both sides here (I find myself very convincing), but ultimately I know which will win. I may question my preparedness to be a parent, but I don’t question whether I want to be a parent. I do. And the desire isn’t getting weaker.
Author’s note… I’m writing for myself. Any actual decision will of course be made with my wife, though I feel comfortable describing her stance as similar and with 1,000 times more conflict.
Image: Lee Miller, Fire Masks (1941)