One of my closest friends has yet to take the plunge into motherhood. Recently I’ve felt like a mama lion around her, trying to protect her from the “you’re married now…when you gonna start popping ’em out?” questions and conversations with friends prying into the private time-line of her life. I scream to these people in my brain, “Back off, folks! This isn’t a circus sideshow and she’ll decide when she’s good and ready! Bother me instead – ask me if I’m going to try for a boy!”
Why do we think it is appropriate to ask the “baby” question of anyone who is female, married and anywhere in the age range of 25-35? Maybe I should start asking relative strangers how much money they make or how well their marriage is holding up every time I run into them at the grocery store and see how they like this breach of social conduct.
In reality, being ready to have a baby is like waiting for “the one” to come sweep you off your feet; your one true soul mate doesn’t exist, and you’ll never truly be ready to have a baby. No class or book or well-intending friends with bits of advice can prepare you for what life is like as a parent. You just have to live it to understand the overwhelming love that seeps into your heart, to learn how to repress the urge to chuck your newborn out the window at 3am or to realize how gross those poop explosions really are.
I’m not trying to advocate having kids on a whim, since, oh well, can’t prepare for it, might as well just do it! There are most certainly circumstances that are better than others to add a baby to the mix of things on your life-to-do list. I am also a firm believer in listening only to your own “clock.” Those friends and family members and complete strangers who must know the exact week you will begin tracking ovulation? F*** ’em. Or at least come up with a great come-back like, “We’re not having kids until we have the first year of night shifts covered by volunteers. What date and time would you like to sign up for?”
I must admit that a part of me really wants her to take the plunge too, but another part tells her in a very serious voice, “Once you do it, there is NO turning back. Sayonara, life as you know it.” After sharing intimate details of motherhood with her for years, I now fear that my confessions have fallen into the “too much information” category, tainting her outlook on having kids and pretty much just scaring the crap out of her in general.
But when, if, she decides to embark on this adventure, I’ll be there. Well, I’ll be there as much as someone with two kids, a career, a house and a marriage to take care of can. Sign me up for one of those night shifts.