Friday, September 29, 2006

Waiting For Children

Liza Kollman
My cousin just had her third baby. In fact, all of my cousins are having babies. I'm the fourth oldest cousin on my mom's side, all three above me have kids. Four of them that are younger than me have kids as well. I'm only 26, but I feel like I'm in my forties, and my clock is defiantly ticking. I have never thought of it that way, but it's true!

When I was younger, it was always a fear. What if I got pregnant before I wanted? What If I hadn't finished school, or found a good job, what if I wasn't with the right person and I got pregnant by accident? It was scary, like it always is! But lately, now, things have been completely different.

All of us girl cousins grew up together. Our ages aren't very far apart, my oldest cousin is about 30 and the youngest one to have a child is 20. There are about 10 of us squeezed into those 10 years, and I am almost the last to have a baby. Growing up, we always talked about when we all had kids, even if they were only second cousins, we'd still all get together and have them play together, and it would be wonderful.

But my cousins all had different ideas of "when we all had kids" than I did.

The first of my cousins to have kids had her first when she was 16. Okay, yes. That was scary! I felt sorry for her! I didn't want to ever be in that situation, I thought that I would never want to have a child at that age, and I didn't envy her a little bit. I felt like she had made a mistake, and I worried for her. The rest of my cousins probably felt the same, but they kind of took this as a sign, and just started to have children. I was in high school, and I had boyfriends, but when I graduated I didn't want to get married and have kids like all of my cousins were doing. Sure, they were starting families and raising babies, but I felt way too young. I wanted to go off to college. So I did.

I graduated from high school, and went off to college. I dated a few different guys, a couple long term, and probably even thought about settling down with one or two of them. Right around that time, more of my cousins started to get married and have kids of their own. When it happened while I was in college, I still felt sorry for them. I thought that they were making a mistake. Even though it was in the back of my mind, I didn't feel ready. I wanted to finish school, have a job, and THEN have children.

After I graduated from college, I got together with the man I am now going to marry. We didn't date for very long before we knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We decided that we'd wait a couple of years and then get married, and I decided that was the best idea I had ever heard.

So we've been having this debate since we met. Actually, I have been having this debate with my fiance since I first met him. When do we have kids? Did my cousins start having kids because they wanted them, or because they finally knew it was right? Should he and I bother waiting for years and years to have kids if we both want them and we know we want them with each other?

Well, we are waiting until we have gotten married in order to have kids, and that was the decision that we came to. Neither one of us really has a job, and neither one is done with school for good, so when we started this whole "talking about having a family" fiasco, we said that we wanted to be married for awhile before we started a family. It seemed very smart of us. He used to tell me to give it a few years – even AFTER we married, before I even though of having kids. We thought that we would settle down together, get some money straight, and really be prepared. We got engaged a year ago, and our wedding is next June. So I have been trying to put off wanting a baby, because I know that he wants to wait. But it's so hard!

We ended up getting dogs. This was our first step in holding off on having children. We thought that dogs would help! Puppies, actually. That did help a bit, you know. I was able to cuddle them and take care of them and love them, and they follow me around the house like, well, like good little puppy dogs. I call myself Mommy and I take good care of my dogs, and for awhile they really worked to fill that void in our hearts where children belong. At least, for the meantime.

We still talked about waiting for children. My fiance was perfectly pleased with the dogs, and he thought that they were all we needed. We even started a small dog breeding business, because we thought that we'd be waiting for quite awhile yet before we have children.

But then, something changed.

Lately, my fiance has started to say that he wants kids soon as well. All along it was me saying that I wanted to have babies, and him saying he wanted to wait. I guess that being engaged for so long is finally getting the best of him. He's been dreaming about it, as I have. Now he wants to get started right after the wedding, and I think it's going to be hard to convince him to wait! I am just hoping that both of us have the willpower in order to not get pregnant until after the wedding is over! I've got my dress already, and I really don't feel like being a pregnant bride!

But we walk past strollers with children in them and we both grin and get that giddy feeling. We want a stroller to put our children in, we want to have a crib in the other room and we want to fill our house with the sound of children laughing and playing. It suddenly doesn't seem important that our careers take off first, or that we have tons of money laying around. We want to be able to provide for our kids, sure, but we used to think we wanted to wait until we could put college funds aside for them and give them everything they ever wanted. Now we think that maybe they don't need much except for us to be their parents. We can give children good lives. We can feed them and keep them in clothing and take them on trips and buy them the things that children need. And we can raise them. We know that. We just have to wait until we are married to begin!

It is so hard to wait, though. That whole notion of the biological clock, well it's true. We've both been feeling it lately, and it is crazy to me that I am only 26 and have been feeling this way.

It isn't that I'm too old to NOT have kids, I'm not even 30 years old, and people are having babies well into their 40s. It is just that there is something missing from our lives, and babies are that something. We have names picked out, we have ideas about parenting skills and have discussed how we plan to raise our children. We have talked about what religion to raise them with, morals and values set to use, and the two of us have even spent hours playing "what if" scenarios for each other, what if the child says this, how do we react? What if our teenager does this, or our toddler asks this, or this happens? What would we do? How would we behave and how would we parent? We have run through these things over and over again on our heads, and both of us feel really ready to have kids. It's insane.

I always figured I'd just have kids. That I wouldn't really feel like it was the perfect time, but kids would just happen when they are supposed to. I guess that this feeling is nature's way of telling me that there might not BE a perfect time, it might just all happen when it is supposed to, no matter what we have to say about it. Maybe all of my cousins just had an earlier perfect time than I do.

Maybe that is how you know it is the right time. I have no idea. I used to think I'd get married, have children, and that was it. I never dreamed there would be this need, this WANT to have babies, and that it would be something I would have to WAIT for, on the edge of my seat, like Christmas morning. But that is the way it has been. We have been waiting. And we are waiting.

At least until after the wedding!

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