“I can’t wait to have children. Really. I can see myself having them with you. If you wanted it too, I’d probably leave it all behind and start a new life with you.”
We had only met two weeks earlier and went on four dates in total. This was our first night together — we were drunk on wine and hormones. But I don’t want to brush it off with that because people don’t just drunk talk about having children with someone when there are so many other things we could have talked about. Such as my beautiful bare boobs that were right in front of him. He chose to talk about children instead.
Five years ago, in my early twenties, this would’ve freaked me out. Today, in my late twenties, it doesn’t. It warms me up inside. This handsome man sitting (naked himself) in front of me couldn’t have said something sexier than that he was excited about having children.
And that got me thinking: Aren’t we all subject to the evolutionary forces inside us, after all? His words threw me into a whole new introspective path. Do I want children?
“Yeah, at some point,” I told him — the standard answer I give to everyone brave enough to ask the question, including myself. It’s easier to postpone it than face the truth that I don’t want to ask myself this question because no eligible partner of mine wanted children at the time. Up until now, it didn’t really matter whether I wanted children or not, since I couldn’t have them on my own. Wanting children was a distant dream that, as he clearly articulated, he could make happen.
With most of my previous partners, I had to walk around eggshells when suggesting that our relationship should progress, whether towards engagement, marriage or anything else. They always resisted so I’ve grown into thinking that nesting is a thing only women want. And because it’s something only women want, women need to coerce men into wanting and doing it. (I recently heard of a sad new term, “the shut up” ring.) But the naked evidence in front of me painted a different possibility.
Sure, I have come across men who wanted to settle down before, but that’s because they were so closed in their thinking that they didn’t have anything better to do with their lives. For them, having a family was the endgame which didn’t align at all with my liberal views and ambitions. This wasn’t the case for the man here though, I admired him for his mind.
“Well, this isn’t something I would decide within the first days of meeting someone,” I said cautiously. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and I wasn’t sure about mine, but it seemed safe to apply some padding. “I would probably need at least a year to know someone before making a decision like that.”
“Of course,” he said. “I didn’t mean now,” he laughed as if I was the one who said something ridiculous. “Think about it.”
“What about the woman you’re supposed to want children with?”
What an asshole, you will say. I agree but I’m into assholes.
“I don’t want children with her,” he reflected, looking like he articulated that answer for the first time, though it’s been sitting on his mind for a while. He would give it all up if I wanted something like that with him, he said. I think he would give it all up anyway, he’s just looking for a reason. I can’t believe the promises of a man who cheats though, so I didn’t give it much importance no matter how sweet the deal. He needs to figure out his marriage on his own, without me.
“You’re a terrible person,” I said laughing — but I meant it.
I thought about it though. Do I want children? For so long I have felt that I don’t have any control over the matter. The mere control I hoped I might have was over my eggs — I’d freeze my eggs, I thought, in hopes that I’d open up more options for myself to have children later. That was until I found that the price of that procedure matched that of the deposit for a mortgage in the UK.
Do I want children? What’s the point of asking myself that and admitting to a somewhat positive answer, if I’ve got no one to have children with? I don’t have the right to want children because that option isn’t on the table. Yes, I could adopt, I thought about that so many times; but I’ll recourse to that later on, once I build myself a more comfortable life to raise them in, if I don’t find a suitable partner by then.
Do I want children? It’s fucking scary to see my pregnant friends get sick a few times a day and their bodies changing into something else, outside their control. Do I want my body to change and stop being my own? I think I could put up with it for a while.
Do I want children? I hated myself for terminating my first pregnancy. Years later, when the contraception method failed again, I thought it was a sign. I was in a much better place in life and so was my partner. He disagreed. We argued over keeping it, while I was desperately trying to paint for him the best life we could have raising a child together to which he’d retort that our four-year relationship wasn’t ready. But I was.
Do I want children? I could be a good mother. I would make a great mother in fact. Why does no one see that? They do, they even called me “wifey material,” but the timing was off. But it seems now that the time has come for the men around me to see value in having a family over bachelor life. They’re being drawn to motherly qualities, just like I was drawn to partners who played along with my younger siblings.
Do I want children?
Yes, I want children with someone excited at the prospect of having children with me. I don’t know if that’s this guy or another but because this conversation happened, I now know better what I want. I want the answer to be, “I can’t wait to have children [with you]!”