SAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.
One of the decisions that I have always felt confident about is the fact that I had my kids early. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend what I did to everyone—after all, eloping to Vegas at the age of 19 does not ALWAYS turn out so well—but it worked for me. Despite being very young when my kids were born, I was in a stable relationship and enjoyed the specific pleasures of young motherhood; namely, that I had energy and time to devote to them. But the trade-off of having kids so young, or at least, my particular trade-off, was putting my career on hold. This isn’t the case for everyone, to be sure, but it was what I decided to do in the context of my family’s wants and needs. I had no regrets because I knew that I would still have time to finish my education and find my way professionally and I didn’t think I would want more kids.
Well! Fast forward 10 years later and I am on my way to establishing myself in the career that I always wanted and have two amazing children who are becoming more and more independent by the day. Perfect, right? Well, kind of. As much as I wouldn’t change anything about having spent my 20s as a full-time stay-at-home mother, I also didn’t plan on being divorced by 30. It’s not the divorce that’s the problem—frankly, that was the solution—it’s the fact that I’m now at an age where all of my peers are getting married and just starting to have children. And I’m finding that the biological clock that I thought I’d set permanently on snooze is starting to tick again. I don’t know if I can afford to pay attention to it.
People who just meet me tend to be really surprised that I have kids at all. But the most resounding comment that I get—especially from women—who find out that I’m 31 and done with diapers and breast-feeding is, “You’re living the dream.” I actually had a friend—one of the loveliest and most-accomplished women I know—tell me, “You already won.” This friend is only 26 and has achieved more in her career than most people a decade her senior, to say nothing of just being flat-out awesome, but she views me as having won.
And I get it. While other women my age might be worried that they will never find the right partner to start a family with, I already did that and can now focus on my own life without wondering if I’m letting my eggs shrivel up and wither away. I’m not exactly sure that this is the scientific explanation for what happens to eggs, but just go with me here.
The problem that I’m having though is that I’m starting to wonder if I will want to have a bigger family. A guy I was dating for a while wanted to know, quite seriously, if I would want to have kids again. Even though my knee-jerk reaction was to say no, I am starting to be able to conceive of the idea that, well, I will want to conceive again one day. And hopefully have it happen with a partner with whom I will want to spend the rest of my life.
I am starting to realize that I might be ready for a long-term commitment and adding to my family. Except that it’s not that easy. Since I started down my career path at a much later date than others in my profession, there is no way that I can reasonably plan to take the time off that I would want in order to have a baby. I would be derailing the future that I postponed when I had my first son at age 20. I know that if I really wanted to make it work, I probably could, but it’s difficult to imagine compromising my career just as it’s getting started.
My best friend just had a baby last week. She was joking that when my kids had been born, she had been the crazy surrogate aunt, living a wild life, and now that role would be passed on to me. And all of that is fine. I know what I signed up for. But it’s hard not to pretend that there isn’t a little part of me trying to figure out a way to have it all—kids, career, strong relationship—and coming up empty-handed as to how that will ever be possible.