For years, I had perfectly sound arguments to postpone the decision.
I was too young, too busy with my career, too busy travelling. I was still smoking or I was enjoying an extended sabbatical.
I really wasn’t sure I wanted to anyway.
There were the that years we were working on a boat as diving instructors. And then the years we didn’t have a fixed job nor a fixed place to live, that I chose to spend a few months in India, a few months in Europe, a few months in Egypt followed by a few months in Bali. Not the most practical of times to go for it.
And then we were waiting to emigrate to Australia…
All this while, my answer to the question asked with increasing frequency was: maybe later, when the circumstances are right, but not now.
A few months ago, I started noticing that my response was less resolute, that the maybe started to shift towards the probably. The later was drawing near. We were about to move to Australia, looking at settling down and my 40th birthday was fast approaching. That tic-toc that had never bothered me before, I could now hear loud and clear.
When we finally made it to Australia a couple of month ago, I brought up the topic, knowing it was going to be a tough discussion.
My husband has, after all, has always said he does not want any. I knew this from the day we met, over seven years ago. He considers himself too old to become a daddy. I had never tried to convince him otherwise until that moment. I had—until then—not been sure I wanted to have children myself.
Why fight a battle you may never even need to win?
And very presumptuously, somewhere deep down inside, I believed that—should the day come that I would change my mind—I would be able to convince him too.
So, a few weeks ago, we talked about it seriously. After we talked about it, I cried.
I still do sometimes.
It turns out that all the times that I said “if I have children,” I actually meant “when I have children.” I found out that all the times that I talked with my friends about the joys and sorrows of raising their children, I was in fact visualizing how I was going to raise my own.
I dreamt of falling asleep together with a little bundle of joy in between us, of buying his first bicycle, of going to her first fencing competition, of harvesting our own grown tomatoes and carrots from the backyard in the weekend.
I had visions of sitting at the dinner table, with a cute little curly-haired muppet who would speak perfect Italian to her dad, fluent Dutch to her mom and flawless English to the both of us.
I could picture how a mini-version of my husband would learn how to operate the pasta-making machine or how a mini-version of me would stomp her feet when she would not get straight A’s at school.
I was sure that my husband would teach me how to be patient with our over-active monster, while I would teach him to not be afraid to confront our pubescent and rebellious daughter.
I imagined family road trips in a camper van across Australia, backpacking through Asia with a toddler, visiting universities in Europe with our soon-to-graduate genius.
I knew I was going to be strict but fair, teach etiquette as well as stimulate free spirit. I also knew they would always going to run to their dad to get what they want, because he would never be able to say no.
I hoped they would love vegetables and home-made smoothies and hate fast food and coca cola. They would have his kindheartedness and my determination. His hair and my skin. His connection to the sea, my passion for adventure.
None of that will happen.
I now mourn for the children I will never have.
Let me be clear. I am not blaming my husband for the—to me sudden and painful—realization that we are not going to have kids. He always said he did not want children and never lead me to believe otherwise.
If anything, it’s my own fault for not dealing with my personal hesitation earlier.
As it turns out, it is now a conscious decision for us to not have children.
It could just as well have been a choice of nature. Perhaps, if I would have tried to get pregnant, I might have be unable to conceive anyway.
Whatever the reason, it is simply not going to happen. Which is why I cry.
I am strangely upset. I am sad that I will never have any offspring of my own, but I am mainly troubled because I am so terribly blue about it.
I am distressed by this unexpected grief.
I sometimes ask myself what I am so upset about. Is it really about not having children? Or is it about not getting what I want?
Either way, it is a very selfish kind of sadness really. It is my very own sorrow. To the unborn child, the problem is implicitly non-existent. For my husband, extending the family has never been the objective.
So I am alone in my regret.
Regret. Do I really regret it?
I am 40 years old and it is not going to happen.
I won’t have to go through sleepless nights, thousands of nappy changes, nipple thrush or post-natal depressions.
We don’t need to start saving for college or university for a child that will turn out to be a drop-out and will choose to elope at the age of 16 with the kid of the biggest criminal in town.
We will be able to go on travels or move house, city, country whenever we want, wherever we want, not caring about school holidays or child friendly destinations. We can go out all night and sleep in, if that’s what we want to do—who needs nannies and babysitters, anyhow?
There is no need for us to live in a neighbourhood with a decent school, nor do we have to push for gymnastics, piano, judo, hockey, chess, dancing or any other sports or hobby that they are not really talented in anyway.
There is no worry about his drug abuse, her unwanted teen pregnancy, none of their choices in life. I will not have to stress about sugarless diets, maximum times on the iPad, homework supervision, inappropriate friend requests on Facebook, make-up at the age of 10 (well, it would be cool if he asked for it), the amount of pocket money, curfews, their first holiday without us or the police knocking on our door holding a very guilty looking kid by his collar.
None of that will happen.
I cry and I mourn, yet every day a little bit less because I know it’s okay.
I have him and he has me. And that is all we need.
Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis—On How to Find Clarity:
Author: Yaisa Nio
Editor: Renée Picard