Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The question of procreation

I think I might, in fact, be losing my mind. I'm so damn conflicted all the time about whether -- and how -- to do this kid thing. There are days when I want nothing more than to see a little Darren or MC running around, when I welcome the idea of a shift in priorities, when I anticipate the fun and challenge of raising a whole 'nother human being.

And then there are days like the recent ones, when I'm content with our life as it is, with my job and Darren and the pooches, with wine with dinner, with the ability to travel and eat out pretty much whenever we want to. I worry that the guilt I feel now about working too much will be magnified by about a billion if we have a baby, and I worry about judging myself too harshly when it comes to motherhood.

And unlike, it seems, a lot of people, I have been unable to reconcile these sides of myself. Reading the discussion over at So Close about why people wanted to have children just caused more stress -- there are so many people who are so damn sure that this is what they want to do. (Granted, at last check there were 183 comments, and I didn't read every single one of them.) So I am really struggling with the idea of where doubt fits into this whole process. People say frequently that they couldn't imagine not having children. Well, I can. And I know I could live with that. I'm just not sure whether I want to.

None of this, of course, was helped by listening to Judith Warner on Fresh Air last night. Her recent book (here's a link to a Newsweek story that excerpted it) is about how middle and upper-middle class women have lost themselves in their all-consuming quest to be the Perfect Mother. She attributes some of this to society -- this is what happens when you set overachieving, highly educated, competitive people to work throwing birthday parties and scheduling play dates -- and some of it to the lack of government support that mothers and families have in the U.S. There's been a ton of debate about her book and her assumptions; I don't want to get into that -- I certainly talked back to the radio a few times last night -- but I will say that I can see myself getting sucked into the vortex of perfection in mothering. I do it All. The. Time. in the rest of my life, so why would I leave mothering out??

So that whole debate makes me scared about the person I could become if we had a wee one. And I know that is in my control, to some extent. I know that things will change, and I'd have a hand in how they change. But all these questions make me scared... and content to have my after-work schedule include grabbing a pint with co-workers instead of picking up a kiddo at daycare.

On top of it all, my mother informed me last week that she is starting a 54-day rosary for me. She said that it ends on Mother's Day, and that every day she is praying for me to get pregnant. On top of which, she has asked several friends and coworkers -- many of whom I do not know in any way -- to pray for me to get knocked up. Granted, this is a woman who prays for parking spaces at the grocery store, so this is not all that unusual. (My family and religion... there's fertile fodder for a post or 6,000.)

But still, I was very much taken aback. I told her that I'm still ambivalent (not, ahem, that it's actually stopped us from trying) about the whole topic and that even if I weren't I'd really prefer that a bunch of strangers don't spend their time thinking about the state of my uterus. Needless to say, that hurt her feelings and she told me to forget she'd mentioned it. My guess is that the strangers are still praying. Yikes.

I have no conclusion for this post, but I've got to hop in the shower and get to work. Thoughts, anyone?