No Kidding: Children Are A Choice

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No Kidding:  Children Are A Choice
Parendhood is a decision, not a given. A lesson from Elizabeth Gilbert

A few months back, I was having a conversation with a man I'd begun dating. We were thinking about making things more official/exclusive. I asked him one night, while we were enjoying the spring weather at a local park, what his thoughts were about having children. He seemed surprised and said, "Isn't it a little early to be bringing that up?" I told him that I have known for years that I don't want to ever be anyone's Mom and that, if he really wanted children, I needed to know now before we got too attached as possible romantic partners. I would much rather part ways while casually dating than to have to deal with this issue after getting married.

That's what happened to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the book turned movie Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts. In that book, and the follow up, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage, Gilbert candidly addresses this issue. Gilbert writes that, when she got married to her first husband, they both assumed they would have children one day. She says she thought she had plenty of time to enjoy her career first and that parenthood seemed like something far in the future. Eventually, though, time caught up with Elizabeth and she realized the idea of being a Mom still wasn't something she was interested in. “I was supposed to want to have a baby., “ she says in Eat Pray Love.

“I was 31 years old. My husband and I--who had been together for eight years, married for six--had built our entire life around the common expectation that, after passing the doddering old age of thirty, I would want to settle down and have children… I kept waiting to want to have a baby, but it didn't happen.” Her husband was ready to get on with having a family and her lack of enthusiasm about parenthood became a real problem.

"While the vague idea of motherhood had always seemed natural to me, the reality--as it approached--only filled me with dread and sorrow," she writes in Committed. "Unlike so many of my friends, I did not ache with longing whenever I saw an infant… Every morning, I would perform something like a CAT scan on myself, searching for a desire to be pregnant, but I never found it." She describes briefly trying to get pregnant and how thankful she was each month when she realized she hadn’t been successful at it. She says she felt like she’d been given more time to enjoy her life the way it was.

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