Do I want kids? Time is running out...

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by anonymous34, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. anonymous34

    anonymous34 New Member

    Jul 9, 2013
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    Dear all,

    I am in a bit of a predicament and I could use an outsider’s perspective on things, or even better, advice form someone who has experienced something similar.

    My partner and I have been together for just over 7 years. Our lives are entwined; we own property, we have a dog, share friends and family and we do most activities together simply because we enjoy each other’s company and share similar interests. We are generally very happy together and I love her dearly. We get along great and she makes me laugh everyday. I genuinely cannot imagine life without her.

    But my problem is this – I think I want to have a child, and she is sure that she doesn’t. I’m 34 and very aware that my biological clock is ticking, and perhaps hormones are playing a role but at the moment I have a fairly intense urge to have a child. That being said, this urge does fluctuate. The rationale part of me is telling me that I’m not even 100% sure that I do want to have kids, and that perhaps I’m just worried that soon the option will be taken away. At the same time I do think that this could be a protective mechanism that I have put in place to justify to myself staying with my partner and remaining childless. As I know for certain that if she came to me today and said let’s get pregnant, I would not have to think twice.

    My partner has been pretty open about not wanting kids, apart from at the very beginning of our relationship when she said she thought she did. After the first year she made it very clear she did not want children. And at the time I thought I was OK with it. The choice was to be without her and pursue having a child I wasn’t sure I wanted, or to leave her and have a child. The choice seemed an easy one; I did not want to be without her and I still don’t.

    So how do I satisfy this nagging voice in my head? It nags because I think we would make brilliant parents. However, the main reason my partner does not want to have children is because she worries she’d make a terrible parent. She suffers from severe anxiety, which I am convinced governs her feelings towards being a parent. She loves children and always loves spending time with her nieces and nephews. Sometimes I think that if I could just get her to see that she would make a great parent and not to be afraid of it then she would be more open to the idea. I know this is completely different, but she was terrified of getting a dog, but once we got him she realised it wasn’t so scary or difficult, and now she wouldn’t be without him. In fact, the dog has definitely made her feel less anxious in general.

    Anxiety seems to run in her family as all her siblings suffer with it. Yet they have kids and they always say the best thing that ever happened to them was their kids. And that their kids helped their anxiety levels as they helped to put their lives into perspective? Now, I have no experience of feeling anxious so I don’t know if this would be true or not for my partner, but I would hate for her anxiety to be the only thing holding her back from having a child.

    When we talk about having kids she says she just doesn’t want the responsibility of it, or for her life to change. But as we get older, our lives are changing. We go out less, drink less, spend more time with family – all things that a child would fit perfectly into in my opinion.

    I don’t know what to do. Though she (nearly) always said she didn’t want kids, part of me thought that would change over time. But it hasn’t. In fact, if anything she has become more certain of this fact. I need to come to peace with this some how, and stop dreaming of a family with her that I’ll never have. How do I do this without resenting her later on? I can’t imagine finding another partner and having a family with her, and I don’t want a child on my own. I just want to find a way to deal with the childless path laid out in front of me.

    If anyone has experienced something similar, I would love to hear from you.
  2. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

    Jul 4, 2013
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    I think you have a potential deal breaker on your hands. For something this serious I would devote some counseling resources to it for both you and your partner. I feel you and can only offer some food for thought.

    A friend of mine once told me that to have children, you just have to want them. It sounds simple because raising children is anything but. Raising children with a partner means you both have to be all in or it will break you up anyway and you will have custody issues. Even great parents who love each other can break up. To have kids means that it is simply something you want to do despite everything there is out there and everything going on with you and at home.

    I have not met moms who regret having children no matter how bad things got. I have heard them regretting being a mom, which sounds like same difference but I guess it is not. The regret I often hear are how worried they get sometimes over their kids and the concern of their abilities to be a good mom or having the fortitude to deal with things in stride.

    I am sorry you have come to this juncture and have some serious decisions to make. I hope you can continue to have honest talks with your partner on this.
  3. Coffee Addict

    Coffee Addict Well-Known Member

    Jul 23, 2013
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    @greylin is right, you have to decide if this is the one thing that would send you separate ways.

    If I were in here situation I wouldn't want to be convinced I want a child, regardless of whether I would be a good mom or not. No one can know how her anxiety feels, from an external point of view it may seem an over reaction but for her it is real. Otherwise, I would feel that my opinion and my feelings about the situation are being undermined.

    All possible excuses aside if she says no there is not much to do.
    greylin likes this.
  4. Fotosapiens

    Fotosapiens New Member

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    Dear anonymous34,

    I feel compelled to write a reply to your post, I was really moved by it but also felt comforted when I read what you have written. I’ve landed on this forum also trying to seek some perspective as I find myself in a very similar situation to yours.

    I can’t claim I have strong advice about what to do that will be helpful, but I’d like to share what I’m doing to get by and to make sense of what has changed in my life and relationship.

    Much like you described about you and your partner, my partner and I share a lot in our lives. After 9 years of relationship, we have the cutest cat in the world (who is sitting on my lap as I type this!), a house that we are decorating together, we share many friends, we share many values, she is loved by all of my family, and we spend a lot of time together doing things we enjoy. Within the first year of starting our relationship, I had the certainty that we would spend our lives together. We have since then constantly being there for each other - we have moved country together, we have several times moved cities together, we have supported each other to follow our career dreams and to progress, we have withstood very difficult times in our lives, and our love for each other has only grown stronger as a result.

    I’m 33 and over the last year I too have certainty felt my biological clock ticking; or more likely, I have felt ready to have children and a sense that we are at a point of our lives when we have the stability and the space to do so. I’ve always been certain that I want to have children, however my partner has fluctuated in what she has wanted, I’d say she’s overall until now felt ambivalent. During the past year we explored this more seriously. We found out information about adoption where we live, we spoke with people who had children this way, and we talked about what would matter to us when we became mothers. This process reinforced my certainty that I wanted to have children, whereas for my partner it had the opposite effect of helping her realise that she does not. She works with children and finds so much joy and delight in doing so, but she doesn’t want to be a mother and doesn’t want our life to change. She is someone who has experienced a great amount of loss in her life and I believe the changes and challenges that come with parenthood would feel for her like further loss (of freedom, of lifestyle, of choice, etc.).

    At this point, a bit like you described, the options we faced were for us to stay together and not have children, or to separate and follow different paths in life. I can’t imagine the prospect of not being partners in life, I don’t want to live without her and I’ve made a lifelong commitment to her. Like you said, I also can’t imagine having a family with someone else and I don’t want children on my own either, so I’ve chosen to stay together accepting that it means not being a mother.

    This is very recent and I’m in the process of coming to terms with this change. I actually believe it’s a process of grief for the loss of what was my preferred, imagined future for us. A part of me also worries about what you’ve mentioned - how to do this without resenting her as the years go by.

    For me, the first and probably most important thing is to be very clear in my mind that the decision to stay with my partner when this means not having children is entirely mine. It is my choice, and I have not felt trapped or blackmailed to make it. This clarity is my way of owning my decision, and owning the consequences of it. If I ever feel regret in the future, it will be regret about my decision and not resentment towards her.

    A second thing that is important for me is communication with my partner. I need to be open with her about experiencing strong feelings of sadness when I see a small child hug their mother, about finding it hard to meet with friends who have babies or to receive the news of friends who have given birth, etc. This isn't about sharing how I feel in a blaming way or to make her feel guilty, but simply for us to acknowledge together that it is perfectly normal that I feel this way at the moment and that we can cope with it.

    I’ve not felt ready yet to share any of this with my family and friends, several of whom are recent parents or are in the process of becoming so. This is in part because they have only seen the surface of our apparent readiness to start a family, and they’ve not seen the struggle in the background. It’s also partly because it still feels a very raw and upsetting thing for me to talk about, so I need some time. And it’s also mainly because I feel sad that my family won’t have greatgrandchildren, grandchildren, and nephews or nieces, as I know they are excited about this. But just as communication with my partner is important, I know it will be too with the rest of my friends and family too when I’m ready.

    Something else that I’m focusing on and finding helpful has been understanding my drive to be a mother. For me, it comes down to having a strong need to nurture and a strong need to be creative. I have decided to make sure I can do things in my life that fulfil these needs to some extent. Many of my hobbies come under these categories anyway, so for me now is the time to do more of them - gardening, DIY, art, and voluntary work with kids.

    Going from imagining and anticipating a future life with children to one without them has left me not quite knowing what that might look like. So I’ve made a list of things that I’ll be able to do in my life that I probably wouldn’t pursue if I was a parent - travelling to certain parts of the globe, writing books, creating a darkroom and learning to develop pictures, etc. I know parents do many of these things and more of course, so this isn’t a generalisation; it’s about what I would give up if I were to be a parent, that I now don’t have to. And it’s not because doing these things are better than having children, but because I need to have a sense of who I will be and what I will do.

    And lastly, I will suggest focusing on your own self-care. Self-care can be done in many ways of course, and I’m sure you have things you do to look after yourself. For example, my profession can be a difficult job to do if you are not feeling emotionally well, so over the past week I’ve focused more on the work that takes my mind off things than on the work that is emotionally demanding, and I’ve closed the door to my office when I needed some time to be alone.

    As I mentioned at the start, I can’t say with certainty that these ways of dealing with this situation are going to be helpful - they’re simply what I’m doing at the moment in an effort to make sense of, and cope with, a big life change. I now have to add another one, which is to read your post and to reply to it - fantastically cathartic, so thank you!

    Please do stay in touch with updates about how you’re doing or about anything else.
    greylin likes this.

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