I might never be a mom, and I'm okay with that
“So. You’re 27, and single?”
I wasn’t in the middle of a first date. I was in the middle of my annual pap smear.
“Technically single. But I’ve been dating this guy for a month. I call him ‘basically my boyfriend,’ but not to his face.” I smiled nervously.
“Are you and ‘basically your boyfriend’ planning on having kids any time soon?” She sighed.
My face dropped. “Oh GOD no. I’m not pregnant, am I?” At 27, I feared getting knocked up more than getting into a car accident. Despite Knocked-Up being one of my favorite rom-coms and the fact that I was a terrible driver in Los Angeles.
“Well, if you ever want to have kids, you should consider saving up to freeze your eggs.” My OBGYN snapped off her gloves and shrugged matter of factly like she was reminding me to save up for college. It seemed like freezing your eggs was just the natural, obvious, everyone-does-it, next step for the tragically single approaching 30.
Suddenly, I felt frozen. The metal stirrups pricked my feet like icicles.
Save up to freeze my eggs?
“Having a kid never was a dream of mine, and I’m not sure if it ever will be. I used to feel so guilty about this, like something was wrong with me. I don’t think choosing a child-free life is the worst thing anymore.”
I just dipped into my savings to cover my eggs Benedict (and bottomless mimosas) at brunch last Sunday. How am I remotely close to affording to freeze my eggs, let alone being financially stable enough to procreate?
My friends would have similar conversations with their gynecologists, and instead of laughing at what seemed like an insane suggestion like I did, they’d panic. They’d not only hear the ticking of their biological clocks, but those clocks’ blaring alarms. RING! RING! RING! TIME TO SETTLE DOWN! Meanwhile, the only song in my head was Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” for the 675th time as I aimlessly swiped through Bumble.
Now I’m 31, it’s 2019, and an unplanned pregnancy is still my greatest fear, especially given the state of our country. I’ve never had an abortion, but I have had to rely on Plan B.
Ever since I was little girl, I dreamed of having a career more than having a baby. While my friends were scrapbooking their weddings, dreaming up baby names, and sketching out their dream wedding dress, I was rehearsing my Oscars speech, remembering all the names to thank, and doodling the dress I’d wear when I inevitably won the Academy Award for Best Actress. As I got older, I accepted that I’d probably never win an Oscar (Emmy, maybe; Oscar, def not), but I still pursued my more realistic dreams. Having a kid never was a dream of mine, and I’m not sure if it ever will be. I used to feel so guilty about this, like something was wrong with me. I don’t think choosing a child-free life is the worst thing anymore.
As an only child and the youngest of my cousins, I was never really around babies growing up. Sure, I babysat when I was younger, but they were six-year-olds. I’ve never changed a diaper, warmed a bottle, or done whatever other duties come with babies. When I meet a baby, I don’t know what to do. I’m scared I’ll drop them. You can’t really have a conversation with a newborn and they don’t get any of my jokes. What do I tell them? I know people with babies, but only from Instagram. I’m in awe of how effortless and fun these mothers make it look from afar, like someone who’s really good at dancing. (Another thing I’ve accepted I’ll probably never be: a good dancer).
I didn’t always think I’d never be a mom. I considered motherhood when I was in love last summer. When I was living with my boyfriend who I thought was the love of my life, I saw us getting married. I could even see our kids in his eyes.
Then I realized that living with him was already like living with a child. Picking up after him, making breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, begging him to stop playing video games and spend time with me outside. When my period was a week late, I panicked. He was elated. “Oh! We can have a baby! I always wanted to be a dad!” He said it so effortlessly and enthusiastically, like he was suggesting we order pizza for dinner—despite him never even taking responsibility for himself. Huh?
The thought of taking care of my boyfriend and a baby in our tiny one-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Williamsburg, Brooklyn made me freeze up like I was back in my OBGN’s stirrups four years ago. Finally, I heard that clock tick, but this time it was the countdown for the remainder our relationship.
“I didn’t always think I’d never be a mom. I considered motherhood when I was in love last summer. “
Since escaping from that relationship, I’m back to fully focusing on my career. I’ve once again accepted, four years after my first freeze-your-eggs-or-else warning that I might never be a mom. That was okay with me at 27, and it’s even more okay at 31.
From the second we’re handed our first doll as little girls, we’re conditioned to be moms. As if it’s our destiny and sole purpose in life. I love my mom, but she wasn’t the best mother. Growing up, I had a nanny. I thought this was because my mom worked with my dad. When I asked my dad about this recently, he laughed.
“Your mom didn’t have a job.”
“So where was Mom when I was growing up?”
“I don’t know? Spending my money.”
I learned that “Where did Mommy go?” was the first full sentence I said to my grandmother as a child. My mom thought this was hilarious, but I guess I’ll never know where my mom would disappear to during those days.
Part of me wants to be a mom, and a better mom than my mother was. But the other part recognizes that I am 31 years old, I currently can’t find a guy to date me for more than two weeks, I struggle to make rent each month for my studio apartment, and when I get depressed, I don’t clean. What happens if I get depressed with a baby? This is also why I don’t have a dog or cat, despite my friends’ suggestions to get one. I can barely take care of myself, so I won’t take care of an animal. How would I take care of another human?
“But you’d be an amazing Mom!” my good friend Peter said to me over huevos rancheros after a hike one overcast Sunday. “You are not your mother,” he reminded me.
Which is true.
But I guess, right now, I’m accepting my comfort with the fact that motherhood may not be for me. I do believe that things happen for a reason. If I was on that path with a partner, maybe there would be a reason for me to be a mother. But, for now, I’m okay being just me. I wanted to share this for anyone who needed to hear it. You are enough, you will always be enough, you are not less of a woman if being a mom isn’t what you want. But you’re also not your mother. You are you, and whatever you want to do with your life—whether or not kids are involved—is your choice.