It’s that time of night again – the ‘worrying hour’. Usually 3:30-4:30 a.m. Like clockwork.
I turned 31 last week. For some reason, I thought I’d have my life together by now. I thought that when I reached the magical age of 30, I’d feel less like a child trapped in an adult’s body.
I have NEVER felt like an adult. I’ve always felt as though I was just playing along, waiting until someone snatched me up and tucked me safely into bed after reading me a bedtime story. But with every passing year, I come closer to the realization that this is life now. I’m officially an adult. And somehow, I’m supposed to know how to do these adulty things like cook a turkey, deep clean a house, or balance a budget (all of which I’m terrible at, by the way). And now I have a kid of my own. How the heck am I supposed to teach her to be an adult when I don’t even feel like one myself?
Of most pressing concern is the fact that I’m 31 and I still don’t have my shit together. I’m a second-year law student who isn’t even sure she wants to be a lawyer. I’m drowning in student loan debt. I’ve yet to even START my career. I feel like I’m constantly swimming and yet incapable of reaching the shore.
And worst of all, the question of how (or if) I’ll ever be able to fit another kid into the picture in the meantime is what keeps me up at night. It’s funny – most of Ellie’s little friends are now older siblings themselves, and the idea of me being pregnant again – or worse, going through the newborn phase all over again – makes me break into a cold sweat.
Is it okay that I’m not sure I want another baby? Is there something wrong with me, fundamentally, because I’m too terrified to do it all over again? I feel like I’ve survived a war, and am constantly wondering whether I want to sign up for another one. Now, our nights are quiet and they start at 7:30. I get a full night’s sleep, which I so desperately need to function and study and maintain my sanity. I don’t ALWAYS have to plan my day around a nap schedule. Ellie can TELL us what’s wrong, most of the time. She’s becoming a little person and I love this age. The idea of getting rid of diapers is on the horizon. I’m starting to feel normal again (or I’m starting to adjust to my new normal). I’m terrified I’ll slip back into the throes of depression and anxiety again.
I don’t think I’m meant to raise babies. I don’t even mind being pregnant – for me, that was the easy part. I could do that again in a heartbeat. But everything after that – I’m just not sure I’m cut out for it.
I hear friends talk about wanting a second, a third, or having “baby fever”. I wonder what this baby fever actually feels like. I feel like less of a woman – less of a mother – for not having it. When I hear a mother relaying her newborn or young baby’s sleep schedule, I actually can’t help but want to vomit. The idea makes me almost physically ill. And yet, I’m not content enough with that sufficing as evidence I should probably not have another baby.
The only reason I’d ever consider another would be solely for Ellie’s sake. In fact, we talk about it sometimes – mostly as a way of gauging her reaction. I grew up as an only child. Life was terribly lonely, and I desperately wanted a sibling to relate to – one who grew up having the same childhood as me. Am I capable of making life less lonely for Ellie? We have such a small family as it is. She’ll never have aunts, uncles or cousins. My friends are busy with their own lives, raising their own kids, being aunts and uncles to their own nieces and nephews. And our little life goes on. It makes me feel less significant, somehow. As in, I could disappear tomorrow and only a small handful of people would ever notice.
The most depressing thing I have ever done is have my will drafted. The lawyer (who was probably about our age) looked at us sheepishly as she asked who Ellie’s guardian would be in the event that Tyler’s parents predeceased us. We had no one. Of course, my best friend (who is more like an Aunt to Ellie) agreed without any hesitation – but, no best friend should ever have to agree to be a child’s guardian.
So, here we are. Four more years to go before I shut down the baby-making factory for good. In those four years, I have another year of law school, plus a year of articling (if I do decide to article) plus a bar exam to commit to. I’m going to enter a workforce only to potentially very quickly leave it again. I just can’t imagine having a child after 35.
31 seems like it’s “just a number”, but it’s not. It’s one year closer to that chasm – the one-way, insurmountable climb to adulthood. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do, and not a lot of time to do it in.
Here’s to hoping I’ll have my shit together next year.