Now that I’ve strolled into my mid thirties by accident (also known as the do-I-want-kids panic zone), suddenly there’s a looming-ish time limit on one of life’s rather largest decisions…
To kid or not to kid?
Do I want to manufacture my own small drunk humans?? And if so —
when, where should we live, how, what if I can’t handle the jandal, and also whyyyyy, argghhh!
Just kidding? Or Not kidding?
I don’t bloody know, do I?!
I’ve always followed my gut instinct on big life decisions and trusted that things would work out. Until recently.
As we hit 34, Neville (my mind) became fed up with letting Ms Gut Instinct make up her mind in her own sweet time.
“I’ve just about had enough of this shit,” He announced.
Neville tapped his watch briskly and sighed with impatience. Ms Gut Instinct blinked slowly and murmured something like “We’ll know when we know, and not before. Also, do you have any goats cheese handy?”
(I can’t be certain about that last part. I was focussed on eating a tartufo pizza at the time).
Neville let out a high pitched shriek of frustration. Control-freak flavoured steam bursting from his ears, he grabbed the steering wheel from Ms Gut Instinct, and has been trying to drive this freckle-covered ship ever since.
Let me tell you, he’s driven me into some shady-ass ditches over the past few months.
The thing is, having kids is not a logical decision to make. The mind can’t rationalise and pro-and-con it’s way into a decision like this.
In fact, as far as I see it, there’s almost nothing logical about having kids at all. From the many, many surveys I’ve conducted, having a baby is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It’s tough going, it takes a toll on your body, your brain, your mental health, your relationship, your friendships, your finances, the planet, and meanwhile dices your lifestyle and your freedom up into tiny little wood chips and then pops them straight in the bin.
(“Ahhh, but it’s so lovely toooo!”, all the parents chime in unison. “It’s a love like you’ve never experienced. It’s the best thing that’ll ever happen to you!”)
Case in point. Having kids is an emotional decision.
And as yet, I don’t have any particular emotional pull one way or the other.
What I do have is fear winking at me in both directions.
— On one side of the tug-of-war, Neville shouts “Argh, kids will ruin your life!”. On the other side (Neville runs round and grabs the other end of the rope) “Argh, you’ll miss out on one of life’s greatest experiences! You’ll regret not having them once it’s too late!”
“Christ alive!” shouts Ms Gut Instinct from her arm chair. “How is one to think clearly with all this racket?!”
And so, I’ve decided to go back to strategy 1.0, which is the strategy I always come back to when Neville has driven me into one too many ditches.
Stop trying to control the things I can’t control (Ms Gut Instinct, life itself, my fondness for goats cheese…). Stop trying to overthink the bejaysus out of something I can’t think my way out of.
When I’m feeling at my best (aka not in a ditch), I have faith. Ms Gut Instinct has never let me down. She’s taken me down some tough, painful roads, like ending a 5 year relationship with one of the great loves of my life.
But Ms GI, she always knows where we’re heading, even when I haven’t a bloody clue.
Ms Gut Instinct is my internal compass. When it’s time to stay the course, she stays silent. When it’s time to change course she lets me know.
If you want to live a life that feels right for YOU, following your own internal compass is the only option.
You’ll know when you’re off course, because she’ll keep quietly nudging you over and over. “Not this, not this, not this.”
If you ignore her, she’ll get out the megaphone. If you ignore her long enough,
she’ll hit you over the head in the form of numbness, depression or anxiety.
But she’s still there, prodding you, just in a much more painful way than before. “Change something. Change something. Change something.”
But when there’s nothing to change, and the path is unclear:
The clarity is waiting for you on the horizon.*
*At least I hope it bloody is.
Update: this blog was one of the most replied-to posts ever! Your responses, honesty and advice blew me away and really helped move me along the line towards some semblance of clarity (though the decision is still percolating). I’ve compiled some of the most helpful replies I received in a part 2 of this blog post here: To Kid or Not to Kid – Part 2