I’m in the car, on the M25 to be specific, and Craigy Boy and I are returning home after a long overdue, and perfectly wonderful visit with Olivia and Charlotte, two of my dearest friends from university. Charlotte is mother to three beautiful children: Chloe 4, William 2 and 4 months old Millie. Olivia has one year old Ella, wide-eyed and cute as a button.
I, on the other hand, have yet to spawn a future heir and you know what? I’m not entirely sure that I want to. Don't get me wrong, I don’t dislike children; nothing could be further from the truth. I absolutely, positively adore children and have done ever since I was..erm.. a child. Flick through any photo album of family holidays and you are guaranteed to find a picture of me with a random baby in my arms or even smaller-than-me kid at my side. Sit next to me on a plane and your child will be calling me "Auntie Ceri” before we’ve landed. I get kids, I understand them. I love their sense of wonder and awe, their desire to learn and discover, their openness and unwavering loyalty. And without wishing to blow my own proverbial trumpet I must inform you that it’s mutual: kids love me too! I don’t get it myself, probably something to do with the fact that my mental age isn’t far removed from theirs...
In any case, you’d think from what you have just read, combined with the fact that I have been a nanny in the past and a teacher for the last 10 years, that producing little copper tops of my own (like these gorgeous ones!) would be a foregone conclusion.
As I moved from my late twenties to my early thirties, then from my early thirties to my current holding position in the mid-thirties, I have been listening out intently for the tick tock of the fabled biological clock to kick start thus declaring unto me as though a sign from the baby-making Gods themselves that THIS is the time, NOW Ginger Warrior!
Grab Craigy Boy and go forth and multiply and replenish the Earth!
Nothing. Nada. Complete radio silence.
For the longest time I was convinced that there was something wrong with me, that I was abnormal in some way. All around me friends were setting up husband and home and jumping on the baby bandwagon yet my own womb did not yearn to be filled. And I think I may know why.
The principal stumbling block for me on the road to reproduction is that:
I KNOW AND HAVE SEEN TOO MUCH!
The very fact that I have spent such a great deal of time with children in the varied roles of babysitter/nanny/teacher/Godmother/general observer means that I am only too aware of how unbelievably stressful, time-consuming and demanding it is to raise a child. No rose tinted glasses on this freckly face, no siree! Whenever I see a Facebook status announcing a baby is on the way for a delighted couple my first thought is, as it rightly should be, one of congratulations. This is followed almost immediately by: do they know what they are letting themselves in for??
Chances are that they do indeed know what they are letting themselves in for and like millions of other couples around the world they let themselves in for it again and again. Take Charlotte and Olivia, for example.
Yes, at times, they have been and can still find themselves sleep-deprived, overstretched and overwhelmed by the demands placed upon them but they wouldn't be without their cherished offspring, not for one single moment. Well, maybe for a moment. Or a few hours... In any case, I marvel at and am awe-inspired by the incredible job they are doing of juggling husband, home, sprogs and successful careers. And I balk: I just don't think I would be up to the task myself.
And therein lies the second great obstacle to my becoming a mother: I spend too much time thinking about, mulling over and perhaps even creating reasons for NOT having a baby. My main concern is that I am now too selfish and set in my ways: I relish my freedom and independence and worry that I would resent this tiny little being and the constant care and attention it would require. I'm an overachiever and fear that I would have unrealistic expectations of my child; I'm worried about how it would affect my relationship with Craigy Boy. And the list goes on. And on. Friends assure me that they, too, had similar thoughts and anxieties and that whilst parenthood is without a doubt the hardest thing they have ever done, it's also, hands down, the best thing.
And so my breeding dilemma continues: I'm not saying I will, I'm not saying I won't. I don't even know if I can. It could well be that in a year or even six month’s time my biological clock will begin reverberating with the intensity of a gong! If and when that moment arrives I hope I will be able to set aside my doubts, fears and concerns and be the kind of mother I ought to be and think I could be.
Ginger Warrior, over and out.
P.S. If you have children, did you always know that you wanted them? Maybe you were unsure that you wanted kids. What made the decision for you? Is being a parent the greatest thing you have ever done? I would love to hear what you have to say. In fact, I NEED to hear what you have to say!