I was 25 years old and newly married when I spoke to the Doctor about permanent birth control. And like many Doctors, he strongly discouraged it. Not only discouraged it, but wouldn't do it for me. I could speak to another Doctor, he suggested, but really I should consider staying on the pill. I was so certain that I didn't want to mother a child. I didn't grow up clucky, never had the sense that I wanted children. The concept of children was a vague concept of teenagers. I always preferred kids once they got to the age of ten. When my sister married a man with children, I fell in love with them. And when she herself started having children, I found myself having a real love and connection for my nephews and niece - a deep love that I imagine is similar to that which parents feel for their children.
I'm not anti-children. I quite like them, I think they're funny and cute and intelligent and curious - all traits I admire in human beings. It was just something I didn't see the need for myself. I also knew that as a team, we couldn't offer anything positive to a child.
Now I'm 32 years old and thinking about the best way to have a baby. The idea still fills me with fear, but more than ever, I'm inclined to have children. I think I've mentioned it here before, but I always knew I didn't want to be a "mother". I grew up with several masculine personality traits, and one of them was my envy for the role of fatherhood. "If I was a guy, I'd have kids", I was certain. At the same time, I played with my rather large doll collection and cuddled every baby I came across, so everyone assumed I'd have children when I grew up. But I just didn't feel that materal urge, rather if anything, it was a paternal urge. I was taller than most of my friends, so when we played with dolls, I pretended I was the father. I'm femme, I'm girly, I'm confident with my femininity, but I have masculine personality traits - I just thought I should make this clear, as when I say this kind of thing, people assume I'm confused in terms of my gender. I'm not.
I knew when I met my girlfriend that she wanted children. This threw me instantly into decision making mode in the very early days of our relationship. There was no point in us dating if I didn't want children, even though she said she'd rather be with me than be a mother, if it was a choice she had to make. I refused to stand between her and her dreams. I respected her enough and was falling in love with her. I knew I had to make a decision. I thought back to my childhood dream of "fatherhood" and realised I could do this.
On the one hand, I really want children. I think of our future as a family and feel a strong urge to have a baby. I know it's not a cluckiness, because I've asked people what cluckiness feels like. For me, my desire to have a child now is a logical decision. There are many reasons that are difficult to articulate and some I'd rather not articulate. But I also know how much work children are. My older sister says that my younger sister and I probably realise more so than most non-mothers how much work children can be. I know how much they change your lifestyle. They alter your relationship. They change your commitments, your workload and they're very needy. They're completely dependent, which sounds obvious, but until you have that sense of dependence, it's hard to understand it. Nevertheless, I think I've come to terms with all this. I think I'd be a good parent, certainly a good parent of older children. I know GF would be a wonderful mother. I think that our relationship is strong, our home life is stable and positive, so we have a lot to offer a child. Very much like the family I grew up in, and feel lucky to have been a part of.
The issues with lesbianism and having children are certainly an issue too. I find it quite funny that I'm more inclined to have a baby now I don't have ready-access to sperm and was so against it when I had a male partner. Who should biologically father the kids? Who should give birth to them? What will the child call me (I have a little list, but they're all foreign names for "dad" which is probably silly)? How do we do all of this without it changing us negatively (it will change us, I know that)? Some days I realise how difficult this will all be and feel inclined to give up, but then I know it will be worthwhile.
The past few days I've had four conversations about parenting with friends and family. About fears, about excitement, and about lesbians conceiving and the process. Chime in if you want. Whether you have children or not, feel free to provide your own stories about parenting, cluckiness or whatever. Whether you're gay, queeer, straight. Whether you're male, female or trans.
Today we took some real steps toward becoming parents, which I plan to blog about. It certainly won't happen overnight, but we're on the way to making this a reality. But I'd love to hear views on parenting.