Because I knew he loved kids, I was honest with him from the start that I never really saw myself becoming a mother. At the time, we were both trying to get careers off the ground and enter into/ complete masters programs. The first several years were lovely and everything I could hope a relationship to be. It was during the next several years that we kind of drifted. I think he was hurt because I still wasn’t eager to be a mother and purposefully remained aloof. A lot of the things we had initially talked about and dreamed of doing never materialized. I hung on for so long because of the strong bond we had formed in the early years. I made a lot of sacrifices for him, but he never changed his life to accommodate me. So I finally ended it, and I have made steps to move on, but I have all these emotions.
I think the mixture of anger and sadness are probably normal, but recently I have had a stronger urge to have a baby, though I’m still not baby-crazed like other women I know, and I have a sense of regret that we didn’t just go for it years ago because our bond was so strong and what we had seemed unique. How do I resolve these feelings, and what should I do if he wants to try to get back together? — Still Not Baby-Crazed
What you’re feeling probably IS regret, but not regret that you didn’t just “go for it years ago” and have a baby with a man you eventually drifted apart from and whose life didn’t comfortably accommodate you. What you’re feeling is regret that things didn’t work out — that the love you had for each other wasn’t enough to get you through whatever hurdles you faced as a couple and that the urge to have a baby wasn’t strong enough early enough to keep you together and that you didn’t want the same things at the same time. And, yes, what you’re feeling is normal and it absolutely does not mean you should get back together with your ex.
There’s nothing you can or should do to resolve the feelings you’re having except resist the urge to reach out and let time take its course. Eventually, the sadness and regret you feel will dissipate — maybe not completely, but certainly enough for it to take up only a tiny residence in your heart — and it will be replaced with new feelings — hope, excitement, and maybe a little anxiety about the future. Those are all normal feelings, too.
Another normal feeling is an urge to have a kid without necessarily feeling baby-crazed. It’s also normal to be a 20-something or 30-something woman and NOT have any urge to have a baby. It’s all fine and normal and healthy. You can even be a wonderful, loving mother without even necessarily LIKING babies all that much. After all, babyhood is a year — two years, max — in the life of a person. No one mothers a baby forever (and thankfully, no one mothers a toddler forever either…).
What happens sometimes and what may happen for you is that the urge to procreate lies somewhat dormant until you find the person you can imagine raising a family with. And then, BAM! All of a sudden, those feelings or urges come rushing to the forefront. It’s biological. You meet the person you want to spend your life with and all these nesting instincts kick in and all you want to do is spend your weekends having sex, picking out bedding at West Elm, and making lists of baby names you both like. It’s telling that in all the years you were with your ex, you didn’t feel a baby urge until AFTER you two broke up. I bet you didn’t like shopping at West Elm with him either. Girl, I feel you. We’ve all been there.
The important thing to remember is you’re on the right track. You’ve done the hard part. You left a relationship that wasn’t working for you. Let time and distance take care of the rest now and eventually the sadness will wane. You will miss him less and less, and soon when you imagine a family one day, it will be with someone else — probably someone you haven’t yet met. Someone who feels permanent. After eight years of temporary, you’ll know the difference when you feel it. And it will be awesome.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.