I turned thirty-seven this year and suddenly people have become extremely interested in my plans for reproduction. Even my parents, who all through my twenties kept telling me how important it was to get an education and build a career – that marriage and babies could wait – are now subtly dropping hints during phone conversations that they really wouldn't mind another grandchild. My niece, my brother's child, is the apple of their eyes. She is the princess of the family and I love her dearly. I also have another niece and two nephews that belong to my best friend that I also love dearly and would do anything for. Motherhood for myself however is not in the cards.
When I was in my twenties I thought dismissively as one does in their twenties, sure, one day, probably in my thirties because it was such a long way off, that I would probably have a baby. Everyone does it, after all, right? In my early thirties I thought well, there is still time. Now I realize that I will probably never have a baby and even though I like the idea of having that option – that it is a choice still, a door that has not closed – I doubt it will ever happen. I have never been one of those women who desperately wants children or thinks that in order to have a fulfilled life a baby must be part of it. I didn't search for a suitable partner to help me bring this dream to light and build the perfect little family as many of my friends have done. In truth most of my romantic partners have been completely unsuitable fathers or men who have taken care of the possibility that they might have children with one simple operation, almost as if my subconscious romantic sensibilities were steering me away from having a child.
Honestly, I have never been opposed to having a child. With the right man, the right circumstances, the wrong birth control, I would have one. I am pro-choice but do not believe in abortion personally so if an accident ever did occur I would take responsibility. The point is, I did not want to be a single mother. I would not purposely have a child out of wedlock and nothing but the greatest love and strength of character would induce me to matrimony. Now here I am at thirty-seven, still single, still childless, but somehow the steward of a bunch of animals and plants who get very cranky with me if I do not lavish them with as much attention as they believe they deserve. The closest I got to that great love and strength of character was the Cowboy who is fifteen years my senior, has a son and a granddaughter and a vasectomy, and is a hopeless workaholic and wanderer. He accepts my pets and plants – even the bugs – without comment or question, supports the idea that I do not want to be a mother, and does not judge me for it. As he says, I have too much to do to keep the animals happy. I have a German shepherd who is fairly certain she is the center of the universe – at least my universe – and who would be devastated if she had to compete with a tiny squalling human for my attention. She already resents the laptop as writing has become my “baby” in a sense. I have three cats who do not behave as cats at all. Cats are supposed to be independent and aloof. Mine are needy, clingy, and completely convinced that I do not spend enough time filling their every need. They even visit me in the bathroom, demanding attention in the middle of my most private actions. I have heard from my friends who are mothers that their small children do the same thing so I guess I am not missing out too much.
I also have several plants that require constant supervision. The pansies need deadheading. The rosebushes want their beer and their pruning so they can bloom all summer. The tiny vegetable seedlings I have tried my hardest to keep alive through the extremely uncommon wet weather we've been having need to be covered and watered every night because they have become the victims of slugs. I have two tiny tomato plants hanging on by a thread and one watermelon plant who seems to be thriving. So I spoil these little greenies because they seem to want so badly to live and they depend on me to make this happen.
As the Cowboy has stated many times before, I do not have time for children. He said if I had to meet the needs of children as well as my codependent animals and my fragile plants, I would have to quit my full time job because taking care of my creatures is a full time job.
I admire women who become mothers. All my friends have in some way or another. My mother is the most amazing woman on Earth. My best friend with the three adorable children has always wanted to be a wife and mother – that was her greatest wish in life – and she is phenomenal at it. As for me, I am fundamentally lazy and I am getting too old. I have had people offer IVF and adoption as options for me. “It's not too late!” and “You can still be a mother, but you'd best get on that!” and “You're not getting any younger!” My laziness however believes otherwise. If I have to work harder than the thirty minutes it takes for a romantic interlude to impregnate me, then I feel like I am working too hard to achieve a goal I'm not sure I want and others are sure I should want. I work hard enough cleaning out cat boxes – three times a day, seven days a week. The thought of the doctor's appointments and the flipping through eligible sperm donors, and the rounds of insemination until one finally takes – that exhausts me. I would infinitely prefer a book or my German shepherd. If I want to go the traditional route – which I do should I ever become a mother – that requires hours of dates to say nothing of the time it takes to meet these dates. I should be out every night having drinks with my girlfriends and smiling and wearing little black dresses and seductive perfume – and the thought of all that just tires me before I even get my eyeliner on. I feel like slipping back into my pajamas, brewing some tea, and watching the next episode of Heartland.
It occurred to me the other day, I have a family. I am not one of those people who thinks her pets are her children. I know my pets are animals. They are not tiny fur humans. They don't even believe they are tiny fur humans. They believe they are superior to humans and should be treated as such. A baby would not be an unwelcome addition to this family, but it does require more thought than merely going down to the pound and picking out the first pair of big brown eyes and floppy ears that arrest one's attention. For a woman my age, as has been so diplomatically pointed out in the past, the process of acquiring a progeny would take considerably more effort than merely vodka and some black underwear. The older I get the harder it will be. I always believed that had I been meant for motherhood the stars would have aligned to make that happen. The choice was made for me as I had certain conditions in mind for having a baby. I also had certain conditions in mind for having a dog, especially one like Tess. Those conditions were met and she sort of fell into my lap. Now I can't imagine my life without her. I'm fairly certain should I have a baby I would feel the same way about that. We will probably never know. The baby has not fallen into my lap at this point (or out of it as the case may be) and therefore I believe the choice has been made for me. I will stick with the fur babies.