Is my biological clock broken?
Growing up, I often felt at odds with myself. It wasnít until my early twenties, watching my friends getting dolled up for a night out, that I realized that the root of my anxiety had something to do with the fact that I wasnít much of a proper girl. I wasnít a tomboy by any means (organized sports still give me hives), but I didnít have much interest in clothes, make-up, or how to snag a guy in twenty easy steps. While everyone crowded around a mirror trying to apply one last coat of mascara, I wandered downstairs to hang out with the guys. And itís been that way ever since.
As I sit in my late twenties, talk of clothes and make-up and boys have inescapably shifted to talk of marriage and babies. The former is fine Ė Iíve lived through my sisterís wedding and know well enough that women like to idealize their perfect engagement band and wedding day. But itís the latter that makes me squirm uncomfortably in my chair.
Being the youngest of three children, Iíve never had much exposure or experience around babies. You could say that I am not a ďbabyĒ person. I remember when my tyrannical young cousin came to visit years ago and wouldnít stop following me. A three-year-old terrorized me so much that I had to call my mother to get my cousin away from me, and Iím not ashamed to admit that I have no idea of how to reprimand a child (OK, maybe just a slight shame). Iím perfectly content watching babies from afar although, frankly, I have yet to get a fuzzy feeling that I often get when looking at puppies.
In the media, I watch as Angelina Jolie continually amasses babies for her family, or Charlotte York, on the big screen, fret about being able to conceive. I admire and sympathize with these women, and yet feel detached.
In high school, a close friend of mine became pregnant and had a baby. Sitting in her living room, watching her coo at the youngster with such motherly love, I felt a shift in our relationship. It was like she was the adult and I was the eternal child, forever wanting my freedom and independence. I knew the sacrifices involved in raising a child, and I wasnít sure if I would ever be ready for something so great.
Lately, thereís been a boom of new babies popping up around me. Most of my co-workers have growing families, and as much as Iím happy for them, I often find myself hiding in my office when they bring their babies by for a visit because I want to avoid the inevitable request to hold the baby. By the way, if you ever need me to hold your baby, you should know that I suck at holding babies Ė watching their little fragile heads move up and down like bobble heads scares me, as is the perpetual feeling that I might accidentally break someoneís baby. I also hide in my office because mustering up some enthusiasm for a baby that will never remember me again takes too much work.
I can see how rewarding having a family is, but I canít relate when one of my co-workers says he canít make it for drinks because he canít find a babysitter, or that his new baby kept him up all night. Nor can I imagine the fabulous European vacation heís about to embark on Ė with his children, all under six years old. All I can picture is sticky fingers, dirty diapers, mad dashes to find a washroom, whining in museums, and forgoing fine French cuisine for McDonaldís.
But itís just more than just what my idea of motherhood would be like that makes me hesitate about wanting to me a mother. Itís me, the girl who once ate a whole tray of shrimp cocktail because I was too lazy to cook. Me, the girl who bought four potted plants that promptly died on her one week later. Me, the girl who still naps on weekends and would probably mistake a package of Depends for diapers. Itís all these things that make me question how I could possibly care for another person, let alone another person who canít speak up to tell me that I suck.
I canít picture myself with a pregnancy glow, doing yoga in the mornings and reading to my stomach at night. The idea of going into labour worries me, but not as much as the part that comes next. Someone will need me to clean, dress and feed them, and half the time I canít even do those things right for myself.
Even though I have all these doubts, I canít help but think that it just boils down to me being selfish. Not only am I forgoing a chance to give someone a great life, but Iím also letting Darwin down. I donít have to be irresponsible or lazy or not know the difference between adult incontinence products and diapers. I donít have to shy away from someone being totally dependant on me. I have the potential to bring someone into this world Ė someone great, someone who will have cute little toes and fingers and my eyes, someone who will make me look at life differently Ė and I still canít warm myself up to the idea of it.
When people ask me about wanting children, Iím upfront about it. ďI donít want childrenÖright now,Ē is my stock response, which is usually followed by an incredulous look. ďIt doesnít mean that I never want children, just not right now. Maybe in a few years, when itís the right time.Ē What I fail to mention is that my biological clock has yet to start ticking, if I do indeed possess one.
But when is the ďright timeĒ? Sometimes we all use ďthe right timeĒ as an excuse to hold ourselves back, to let our fears overwhelm us. Iím certainly guilty of that. Iím not sure if the right time will ever come for me to have children, although Iím increasingly finding myself wondering if Iíll suddenly wake up one day, look at a baby, and want to cry tears of joy. At times, I catch myself staring intently at a baby, waiting for some part of me to internally exclaim that itís the cutest thing in the world. It hasnít happened yet.
And even if, by some miracle, that day comes, I worry about my maternal instincts, of which I have none. I worry that my parenting skills will be as abundant as my carpentry skills. I know that Iím not the first person, nor the last, to wonder these things, but some small part of me canít help but notice that my malfunctioning biological clock is more telling than what I care to admit.
Perhaps my ďright timeĒ will never come, or perhaps I may wake up one day and become overwhelmed with emotion, marveling at the joyous circle of life. I canít say at the moment, but what I can say is that Iíve thought things through for now, and the knitted booties will just have to wait. ¤ C.Ho.