by Jennifer Vanasco -
SGN Contributing Writer
Jorge, my super, sat on my couch the other afternoon, having tea and pie. My building's heat was out again, but this time the problem was serious: The boiler had cracked. Jorge was waiting for a mechanic of some kind to come, and so I invited him in.
"You don't have children?" he asked. I knew he had five, all of whom still live in Ecuador.
I shook my head.
"You need children for a family," he said.
"I want children," I said.
He nodded and shrugged a shoulder. "Well, it's OK," he said. "In America, it's OK. You have children at 30, at 35, older. Plenty of time here to have children," he said.
We went on to other things, but part of me has fixated on that idea since. Plenty of time to have children? Can that be true?
I never thought I would have biological clock panic, but I am, a little. Partly it's because a couple months ago my age tipped toward 40 - I'm 36. But mostly it's because:
1. I really do want children and always thought I'd have them, and
2. As of this month, nearly every single one of my close female friends either has children, is pregnant, is trying to get pregnant, or is trying to adopt or thinking seriously about adopting.
How did this happen?
Nineteen months ago, when I moved to New York, none of my Chicago friends had children, and none of my New York friends did, either. Most of my friends with kids were college friends who lived in other states, and whom I communicated with mostly through Christmas cards or reproductions of sonograms.
In Chicago, I was living a youthful life. I played flag football. I went to performance art. I hung out with friends. Children seemed very, very far in the future.
But then, toward the end of my time there, I dated a great girl who adored her many nieces and nephews. I fell in love with them and with her simultaneously; for the first time I understood the small joys a daily life with children could bring, and the deep closeness and respect and love you can feel for someone who partners with you in raising them.
She - they - were my only Chicago regret.
Since our time together ended, I've been thinking more and more about having kids myself. And then single women I was close to started having - or trying to have - children on their own, or adopting - or beginning the process.
Now, almost every conversation I have with a friend has babies or children in it. On the one hand, I now feel very comfortable with adoption, which means Jorge is right - I do have plenty of time to have children.
On the other hand, I feel very, very ready to have them. I've got a solid career and a lot of energy and happiness. Plus - and I hope this sounds the way I mean it to - I kinda want to raise kids during the same period my friends are raising them.
I already feel like my life is revolving a bit around children. Having them (or adopting them) myself while my friends are sharing experiences and babysitting and kid's clothes and strategies seems perfect.
Yet - I don't want to be a single mother. I'm sure I can do it. My own mother did it very well, and thousands of women raise wonderful children on their own. Also, single motherhood can always happen unexpectedly, for a variety of reasons - even if I were partnered, it could happen to me. But I would rather start raising kids within a loving partnership, for my own sanity.
At the moment, I feel very, very far from such a thing, and I've realized something lately - I actually want children more than I want to be partnered, and the idea of finding a partner to have a child is just as distasteful as having a child to save a partnership.
So what will I do?
For the moment, I'm just waiting. I'm listening to my friends as they explore their options. I study various fertility processes. I flip through adoption websites. I read up on adoption law, and what would happen if I had a child first and then found a partner who wanted to adopt my child later. I advocate for full marriage rights for Gays and Lesbians so that the whole process will be easier. I go on dates with women who have children, because if it worked out, that would kill two birds.
I want to raise children - I'm not particular about whether I give birth to them or not. A dear friend tells me, "You can make that happen. That will happen. You have time."
Time, she says. I have time. And Jorge, too: "Plenty of time here to have children," he said. I try to relax in the fact of that. But as I watch the children of my friends get older so quickly, time seems race by.
Jennifer Vanasco is an award-winning, syndicated columnist. Email her at email@example.com.