Standing on the Edge

2019 is going to be a big year for me, I can feel it. Plus that’s what my spirit guides said the other day when I talked to them, and they know what’s up. But seriously, this year feels like a big one, like I’m standing on the edge preparing to take a huge leap.

After endless debate, I think we might actually start trying to have kids toward the end of the year. Wow, can you feel the lack of confidence there?

I’m still so unsure I can’t even come up with a statement more definitive than:

I think we might actually start trying…”

But I’m a person who struggles with even the simplest of decisions. I have a hard time buying jeans, for god’s sake. So of course I’m having a hard time with this. The concept of becoming a mother is daunting.

Ultimately it came down to the simple question of when we’re 70, will we want it to be just us, or will we want to have kids and potential grandkids in our lives? Looking at things that way, it becomes obvious that yes, I believe life will be more meaningful for me, for us, if we do have children.

Of all the wonderful comments women wrote in response to my motherhood dilemma, the ones that stayed with me touched on the qualities motherhood would bring out in me. The compassion, the patience, the selflessness, the strength. The part about strength stayed with me most of all, this idea that I have vast untapped stores of strength within me that perhaps only motherhood could bring to the surface.

Of course I don’t mean to suggest that only through motherhood can women become their full selves, but rather that we only truly know what we’re capable of when we are tested. And motherhood is one hell of a test.

So future Karen wants kids, though the current version is a little less confident. Of course I do have options. We could wait much longer, I could freeze my eggs. We could do IVF, or whatever else would allow us to push the timeline back a bit more.

But here’s the thing. I don’t want to. Maybe I’m woefully naive, but I really don’t want this to be a big thing. If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m not up for serious medical intervention, a life and marriage consuming process. Frankly I just don’t want kids badly enough to put myself through that. And then what does that mean?

Who knows, maybe we’ll try and it won’t happen easily and then I’ll realize how much I really want kids. Maybe I’ll become obsessed and willing to do anything to make it happen. Who friggin knows? I just have no idea what I’m getting myself into. Even just trying to have kids is a crazy unknown, and the unknown is always frightening.

Talking to my best friend the other day, I confessed that things have been a bit tense in my marriage lately. “The kid thing” is looming, and I feel its weight. It’s there, on the horizon, a no fucking around, this is it kind of thing. It’s making everything heavier.

In my mind, any tiny disagreement we have turns into “maybe we’re not as aligned as I thought and if that’s the case we’re obviously not going to make it.” Despite believing with my whole heart that if any marriage has a chance of making it, it’s ours, I’m still looking for evidence that things between us aren’t stable enough to survive kids.

Sure, kids would bring us closer in ways we can’t imagine now, but it would also put our relationship under strain unlike anything we’ve experienced so far. As egalitarian as marriages are becoming, there is still no question about who takes on the greatest burden as a parent.

Women are trying to juggle everything as best as they can, and it doesn’t look like a lot of fun. There’s a lot of uptight moms out there, and with good reason. They haven’t slept in years.

I’m already pretty high strung and uptight as it is. Do I really want to double down on those qualities? Will my relationship survive if I do? I can be a real piece of work when I’m stressed, not to mention sleep-deprived.

Do I really want to live that way, day in and day out? Do I really expect Jamie to put up with that forever? And what about him? What things will I start to resent over time, once the burden of parenting has laid itself on top of us?

Perhaps this is the root of all my fear. I don’t want to lose Jamie. I do not want kids enough that I am willing to gamble my marriage for them. But of course, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing. I’d rather be happily married without kids, than divorced with them. But that’s only current Karen talking, and maybe I won’t have to make that trade. In an ideal world, I’d get to have both.

My own parents are divorced, so that’s a possibility I’ve always been acutely aware of. It’s not what I want or what I expect, but it’s more real to me than it would be otherwise.

But even if we did end up divorced, I could picture a future version of myself looking back and saying “It’s too bad that Jamie and I didn’t make it, but I just couldn’t imagine life without my kids”. Because that’s something people say. All the time.

So here I am, planning to move forward with some sense that future Karen needs me to take action. She wants stuff, and it’s my job to create it for her. It’s my job to take the leap, to set my fears aside and just act, trusting that what I want is more important than what I fear.

It brings to mind a Nelson Mandela quote that I’ve always loved, that reminds me of how I want to live my life.

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.
— Nelson Mandela

So maybe it’s that simple. I’m scared, but I must act anyway.

I’m scared of becoming a mom. I’m scared of losing myself. I’m scared of losing my marriage. I’m scared of my own goals and dreams being pushed aside. I’m scared of losing my body and the hard-won self-love I’ve only just begun to cultivate. I’m scared of being exhausted all the time. I’m scared I’ll be a mean mom. I’m scared I’ll spend my whole life driving kids around and making lunches. I’m scared I’ll have no time to myself and no time to write. I’m scared of all of it, every little bit.

And I think I might just do it anyway.