Somehow, giving birth has made me an expert on childrearing and the satisfaction that it can potentially bring into your life. Clearly, I jest. I’m not an expert about anything – but if you heard the recurring question I get asked from friends contemplating procreation, you’d think I was. The question I am constantly being asked about motherhood is – is it worth it?
Maybe I get asked this question because I make a living divulging personal information and giving women advice they never asked for. Maybe it’s because a lot of my friends are professionals who have waited until later in their lives to have kids. Regardless, I think women are always pretty surprised when I give them my answer.
Nope. It’s probably not worth it. Whatever it is.
Being a mother is something I always knew was in the cards for me. It’s a role I always wanted for myself, for as long as I can remember. When we spent years having trouble conceiving, I remember thinking, this can’t be right. I’m supposed to be a mother. Why isn’t this happening? Frankly, I’ve never been that sure about anything else in my life. There is no logical explanation for it.
We waited until we were in our early 30s to even start trying, not knowing it would take five years to get a pregnancy to stick. I gave birth to my first child at 37 and will be giving birth to my second in May of this year. I will be 40. I realize it’s a late start, but I’ve never really done anything traditionally. I didn’t have children because I thought it was something that was “expected” of me. I did it because I really, really wanted to.
That’s why the advice I give to my friends is always a little unexpected. They see that I enjoy motherhood and expect me to say something along the lines of, it’s the greatest thing, ever! As soon as you give birth you will realize that this is your destiny! It’s worth every sacrifice you have to make, and then some!
Instead, I usually say, If you’re really not sure, maybe you shouldn’t. You have a pretty terrific life now, right?
Blank stares and confusion usually follow.
What’s wrong with having the freedom to travel anywhere at a moment’s notice, drink in the daytime, and devote endless hours to your profession or passions? What’s incomplete about building a life with a partner, or by yourself, and fully enjoying that life? I have a lot of single, childless friends in their 40s – and they’re happy. I also have a lot of miserable ones, but I don’t think inserting an infant into their lives would change that.