I am wrestling with a difficult decision. My boyfriend does not want kids. He's been very clear about this from the beginning, and has good reasons for it (not that I need to justify that to anyone here... unlike out in the rest of the world). When we first met, I was undecided. So it wasn't a dealbreaker and we've been happily together for several years.
I work in education, which means that I'm around kids daily. I love them and my work with an all-consuming devotion. I'm around other people who love kids, and often get that strange compliment, "You would be a great mother someday,", or "Wow, you're actually really good with babies!" (implied: for someone who's never had one of your own... never mind your extensive training, how can you do this without the magic mommy hormones?!?!) or even worse, the bizarre advice, "Remember to teach your own kids that someday." Am I resentful of those well-intentioned people? YES, often! Because they're adding pressure to an already pressured situation. As I'm approaching 30, I feel like it's time to make a decision about whether I want to / plan to have kids of my own or not. Which means whether or not I marry this man.
Part of me feels like - I do have kids, actually. About 75 students each year, and there will be thousands more by the time I retire. And I serve kids with disabilities, so they require even more patience than your typical kid would. I get the joy of knowing I make a difference every day. I get all the love and goodness from the kids, and all the challenges that make you a better person, and I still get to go home at the end of the day to peace, quiet, and a glass of wine. It's the best of both worlds! If I had a kid at home, surely I would just burn out even more than I already do, with the way I give my job 1000% effort all the time.
Another part of me thinks, I used to imagine I would be a mother someday. I have that desire to pass on a family story, to have a kid who's really "mine" for life, and to finally (finally!!!) be the decision-maker for a particular child. (As an educator, I never have the final say. And sometimes parents make bad decisions that I can't talk them out of. It's the heart-wrenching part of my job.) I understand kids are their own people and there's no guarantee, but I also imagine that any child of mine would have the kind of loving relationship with me, that I have and cherish with my own mom. I could put up with some more work, to have that.
These parts of me tend to be stronger depending on the day. Is it hormones? Could be. Haven't tried tracking it yet.
Which leaves me... as ever... undecided. The thing that makes this decision so much more painful to me, is the knowledge that it involves someone else. I can't convince my boyfriend to change his mind, and I don't want to. I want to respect his decision and his clarity on it. It's my responsibility to think this through and get my own clear (or at least clear-ish) choice made. But if I ever become absolutely convinced that I MUST have children, that would mean leaving him, which breaks my heart, and would be even worse if it meant divorce papers.
I say that having given the same advice to many a friend over the years: "If you're not with the right person, don't stay with them. Go find your next happiness, because it will be better than this one. I know you're convinced he's the only one for you, but he's not."
If I try to give myself that same advice, I reject it every time. This time, he IS the right guy. He WOULD make the world's most wonderful husband. (Yes, everyone says that, I know!!!) It's just that if I agree to marry him - and we've talked extensively about that possibility - it means that I'm agreeing not to have children. I've postponed as long as I feel comfortable postponing, and now I have to confront this, and make up my mind.
Do I leave him, just so I can leave that possibility of kids open? Or do I stay, certain of my marriage but most likely feeling some days happily childfree and other days perhaps miserably childless?
When I talk to him about it, he says I wouldn't be wrestling with it if I didn't want kids. I would just know that I wanted to stay with him, and it wouldn't be a big deal. On the days I want kids, I agree, and start crying over the breakup that seems inevitable. Then I have those days I don't want them at all, and think, why did I ever consider leaving?
Wrestling with this (for months now) has exacerbated an ongoing intermittent struggle I have with depression. I've put myself through so much mental anguish over it, and I just want to be done. Something has to change, which means I have to decide. But how do I do that? Especially with what seems like no one to turn to who really gets it. Hoping to find some help and comfort here.