“I do not know that I want to have children.”
I will always remember the look on his face when I said this to him, that first day we met- part awe, part…something. Something being a mix of crestfallen (because, otherwise, you’re perfect), and wary (because, what horror stories does this one have that she does not want kids?)
“No, I do not mean that I don’t want to have kids; I just don’t know that I want them.”
“Okay… ”, he responded, almost shakily.
I do not know that I want to get married.
When I was 26, I toyed with that statement so many times, trying to work up the courage to tell my mother. I wondered if I would be able to explain to her that I wasn’t saying I did not want to marry; but had merely not decided if I wanted to or not- if I would be able to get this clarification in, between her screams of “what did I do wrong” and “this child you will not kill me”.
And even if I did, would she hear me?
I do not remember if I was born questioning, or if I picked it up at some point. But I know that, now, I question most things. And not because I feel like I should, no; I mostly question because somewhere in between growing through shy teenage years into young womanhood, I developed a keen sense of wanting to understand things. This is how it’s done or been done or should be done has never been enough for me. I always want to know why.
‘Why’ has become a big part of me.
When did you know you wanted kids? Did you even know? Or did you just…have them?
When did you know you wanted to marry? Did you even know? Or did you just…marry?
I don’t always get answers to my ‘whys’. Sometimes this is okay. Sometimes I may not understand something, but go ahead and do it anyway, because someone I respect has asked it of me. These times are not many, but they are there.
I do not understand how life-altering decisions such as the decision to marry, or have children get little or no critical thought from many people. We just grow and are expected to marry and have children- like it is some fundamental stage in the growth process- like how your voice breaks at 13 and your breasts burgeon at 15.
But it’s not quite the same, is it? Because you do not have a choice about your period or your breasts. Or your pubic hair or cracked voice. Getting married is not biology. (I hear you say having children is- but is it, really? If it is, then why bother stop it? Why not start having them as soon as you’re physically able to and not stop till your body stops?)
That is not to say that one should avoid all things conventional just because they are norms-no. But norms become so for a reason, and it up to us to find and understand these reasons, and decide if they work for us. It is this process that makes us certain/unwavering in our decisions, whichever way they turn out.
And so in this moment, as I with a blush say yes to my person who’s holding in his breath on bended-knee, I know more than anything that I do want to marry, and more importantly, that I do want to marry him. There is no unsatisfying why hanging over my head, as he slips a beautiful black cubic zirconia onto my finger.