When considering whether to choose motherhood or a childfree life, it’s easy to get caught in the quagmire of mixing together what you want with how to navigate outside pressures. External pressures like career, money, partner, age, and internal pressures like fear of regret, fear of pregnancy, and the fear of how a child will change your life can make choosing seem impossible.
The way out of the quagmire is simple: Desire is the key out of the quagmire. Desire first; decision second.
Give yourself the gift of desire this Valentine’s Day. Focus on what you want, not on what you’ll do. Go all out and put aside the pressures, the perceived realities, and the fears. I know it’s easier said than done. But when you think about what you’ve already faced in your life, I know you’re up for the challenge.
Forget about your age or that you haven’t yet found Ms. or Mr. Right or that you just don’t know what to do. This Valentine’s Day focus on loving yourself and valuing you and spend time with your desire only. Spend time not needing to make sense or be practical about this life-defining decision.
What do you want? What do you want to be able to want? Can you let yourself want and not go further than that? If not, what is in the way of just wanting for the sake of wanting?
The decision comes later. Mixing the two will keep you in the quagmire. They must be disconnected and explored separately.
Don’t let the pronatalism that Laura Carroll, author of The Baby Matrix, talks about so eloquently put you in a double bind. Don't let the pressures of society or religion or family of origin beliefs interfere in your exploration of desire. How can anyone outside of you know what is best for you? The answer: They can't.
I suggest for Valentine’s Day you do an exercise that my co-author Denise L. Carlini and I recommend in our book, Motherhood-Is It For Me? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Clarity. Try this exercise to see if you can experience some internal freedom and be with what you want or want to want or just be okay asking the question with rhetorical curiosity: Do I want to be a mom? Do I want to raise a child or children? Do I want to contribute to the next generation?
Make a ritual out of putting aside the realities, the externals of your life along with your fears so that you can focus on your heart’s desire.
Exercise: Putting Aside Your Externals and Fears
Find a jar with a very tight lid in your kitchen or buy one and decorate it for this purpose. Have fun with it.
- Write one internal fear on a strip of paper and place it in the jar.
- Continue doing this with each internal fear, and then with each external pressure. Include everything you want to put aside for now.
- Close that lid and put the jar away out of sight.
- Feel free to add to the jar during this process, putting it away and out of sight each time. This physical activity helps you move forward less encumbered.
Even though all of what you wrote down is important to you, now is not the time to entertain any of it. Discovering your desire is about you turning inward not looking outward.
So let yourself bathe in your wants and desires until there is clarity of what you want and why you want it. Then—and only then—look at what goes into the decision-making process. Your desire isn’t always the same as your decision, but in order to be able to consciously look at deciding, you have to know what you want and why you want it.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
© 2018 Ann Davidman