Thirty is a good number for candles on a birthday cake. True, when you’re eighteen, age thirty seems like it’s almost the end of your life, but if you look at it objectively, it’s a pretty good age to be turning. Thirty is the time of full bloom, when you’re still evolving as a person and as a professional, but you have an idea of where you’re going, be it a specific path or just a general understanding of what is it that you want. It’s also when you’re setting a blueprint for the life ahead of you – your nearest future – and for many people, this includes having a couple of minis.
Some of your peers have figured out that marriage thing (or met their sweetheart in high school) and already have a kid or two. Those who breezed through a series of romantic adventures in their twenties are now finally settling down with “The One” and getting excited about all the accompanying stuff, like a wedding, a matrimonial home, babies.
But do you really know what you want when you’re in your twenties? No, you’re just starting your own discovery.
For me, after years of marriage, everyone was waiting for an announcement that our family was growing. There was a time when I was young and sentimental and actually had plans on how to announce the big news. But now, as my thirties are just around the corner and I’m trying to get my shit together, I have come to a paradox. I don’t want children. I just want a divorce.
See, if you know me personally, most likely my marriage would be your object of envy. Even just a friendly kind of envy. I always thought I had a fairytale marriage, and many people seconded my surety. He’s a great husband, very caring and very understanding. We used to be so in sync with each other – or at least, I thought we were. Great couples stay on the same page, and I really wanted us to be on that same page. Maybe that’s why I endorsed his outlook on life completely, even when it was different from mine.
I always thought of my husband as an awesome dad-to-be. Again, caring, understanding and supportive – he has a way with kids. A keeper to be kept for the future. The first-ever man I actually wanted to have children with. I walked the walk of life proudly by his side, almost as if he were my trophy husband. I felt so accomplished for having found such a treasure. And he was a treasure for the most part. We’ve overcome so many obstacles together – health problems, mental issues, family feuds, financial crises or failed friendships. The list could go on and on. We supported each other through the take-off of our careers. We enjoyed an amazing freedom in our relationship – no, not the “open relationship” kind of freedom, but inner freedom, when nobody forces anything onto the other person.
I thought we were aligned. Even as our differences became more and more pronounced as the time went by, I was ready to overlook them for the sake of our grand future together. The future of my unborn children was more important than the small things where we didn’t click at all. The small things that grew larger and larger like a snowball. The things we would never agree on without one giving in to the other.
I was trying hard to mold myself into a person who would better succeed as my husband’s spouse. I kept compromising myself, shoving my little dreams and aspirations aside, until one day I learned that he’s not going to have any children with me in any foreseeable future. He told me upfront that he doesn’t see this happening for us. It’s not that he wasn’t ready, it’s just that he didn’t see this whole procreation thing feasible. “How do you imagine this?” he’d ask. And I’d feel like a C-student for forgetting to prepare a business plan and a free-form essay explaining how we can make it work.
Whenever we’d have this conversation, he’d always ask for an extension. A year or two, and then we’ll be procreating like rabbits. I’d agree and work hard to achieve all the hallmarks that he used as excuses for the delay. With each “condition” met, I was a step closer to having that beautiful fairytale family for which I thought we had built such a wonderful foundation.
What hit me harder was a realization of our irreconcilable differences. The abyss between us that I could feel almost physically. The horrifying creeping realization that I actually don’t want to have children with this man. That despite his wonderful dad-to-be qualities, I’m not sure if I can and want to raise my children with this person. Not because he rejected my potential as a woman time and again, but because our differences won’t be reconciled by a tiny human being who has yet to become part of our life. Because I’d have to compromise myself even further and I wasn’t prepared to do so. This realization was so ice-cold scary that I couldn’t believe such a seditious thought entered my head.
Sure, I don’t deny the fact that my female maternal instincts were deeply offended. After all, I wasn’t that keen on having children really until I met him. And it’s probably the inherent human striving to picture-perfect happiness that made me turn a blind eye to the problems we had and that grew progressively acute. It was foolish of me to work hard to achieve each and every condition for having children, instead of working on our relationship. But in my defence, I thought our relationship was perfect. Everybody told me so.
Now that the euphoria of prospective procreation has dissipated once and for all, and now that I’m learning to accept the possibility that I’m not going to be a mother by the time I bid farewell to my twenties, I am facing another realization that earlier I’d never dare to articulate in words. A criminal thought, which – like a forbidden fruit – ousts me out of my protective paradise, if only in my head. A frightful possibility that will prove me a failure in comparison to my peers.
I don’t want any children anymore. All I want is a divorce.