A baby is an inestimable blessing and bother.
In my 20’s, I never worried about it. Even now that I’m occupying that dreadful age bracket that elicits cries of, “But don’t you want to?” and “Are you ever gonna?” from my mother and nervous inquisitions from potential suitors, I wholeheartedly avoid the subject altogether.
Don’t get me wrong—I love kids. Babies, too, especially the ones with the faux-hawk hairdos and the spit-up on their duck-embroidered jumpers who consistently wail louder and with a more impressive vocal range than a majority of those stupid emo-pop punk bands on the radio.
It’s not that I don’t want children. I just don’t want them right now. The problem is I’ve been saying this for the last 10 years. And I imagine I’ll be saying it for the next—oh, I dunno—15?
And that means I should be ready to conceive as I’m approaching my 56th birthday. Look, I know the technology is there and I may be a progressive thinker but the idea of having a 12-year-old when I’m 68 is not that appealing.
Who would father my little future Pulitzer Prize-winning rock star anyway? I don’t have a boyfriend and I am NOT about to go on some big, desperate hunt for my “baby’s daddy.”
It’s hard enough just to find someone I like long enough to want to sit through a movie with after dinner. But the idea of thinking some guy and I will make it through not just the end credits but also the prepubescent years of some wild-haired, half-Satan spawn that has his looks and my persistently mocking tendencies? Yeah, just pass the popcorn and tell me where the nearest exit is.
A lot of men my age already have children of their own. Whether they’re reeling from divorce, or split amicably from their spouses, they’re still contending with the obligations—emotional, physical and financial—stemming from a relationship that didn’t work out.
While it’s gratifying to see these men pour themselves into their children, I can’t help but think these men would not be willing to undertake another procreation venture any time soon. And I hate that I’d ever have to entertain such possibilities anyway. I date who I want, when I want, with no audible time clock a-ticking.
But that doesn’t stop the Great Baby Hope of friends and family who constantly provide alternative solutions.
“You don’t need a man,” a friend told me recently. “Go to the sperm bank or adopt. Do it on your own!”
The thing is, I don’t want to do it on my own. I have the utmost respect and admiration for single women raising children by themselves, especially my mom. And I think I turned out okay. But I also saw what she sacrificed. And I often wonder—even if she doesn’t—who she could’ve become had she not had me on her own, or what she would have done had my father stuck around long enough to help.
I keep reading about these single women who “make the big choice” between having a career or a kid. And that if you’re still single without children by the time you’re 32, well, it’s just not likely gonna happen. But that’s exactly the time when the desperate or deflated dream truly comes alive, changing the romantic priorities of single women nationwide. Maybe I’m ignorant, naive and selfish, but I just can’t do that.
When I was younger, I always thought of achievement in terms of age: By the time I’m 25, I will have received my doctorate; at 28, I’ll be married; at 30, I’ll pop out my first kid; my first book comes at 33, with an appearance on Oprah around 35. Etcetera.
Of course, life isn’t really working out like that. It’s enough at the moment just to try to do something meaningful with my life, even if it means I’m not currently in hot pursuit of having a child. Though I’m way off schedule, I haven’t completely given up on the baby dream. For now, I’ve just decided to be.
Samantha Campos enjoys long walks in the park, dancing by candlelight and reading Pablo Neruda poetry to herself in the bathtub. MTW