On one hand, I think to myself that it would be great to have a kid. On the other hand, I’m about to turn 50 and feel like I’m too old. There is a part of me that wants to have a child and another part of me that doesn’t. But it feels like this could be my last chance (assuming things go well with Woman A and she can become pregnant). Every time I think about raising a kid or kids, the following words pop in my head: stress; worry; hard work; chaos; mess; financial pressure. Does everyone think like me before they have a child?
How do I know if I really really absolutely want kids? How can I make the right decision for me? By making a decision, I can then concentrate on a suitable woman and move forward.
Can you possibly point me in the right direction? — Desire to Sire?
It’s not uncommon for people to be a little uncertain or apprehensive about having children. Most people, when they think about the idea of having kids, will consider some of the things you mention: the stress and the hard work and the financial pressure. I know I did, and still do (and my oldest just turned 7 this week). But always, when I thought about having children before I had them, I also thought about so many wonderful things, too: newborn snuggles; visits from the tooth fairy; first day of school pictures; trick-or-treating with my munchkins; squeals on Christmas morning; re-reading favorite children’s books; playing the license plate game on road trips; re-watching ET on family movie night. That you didn’t mention a single thing that you’d look forward to about having a child, and that you suggested a bunch of things you don’t look forward to, suggests that you don’t really want to be a parent. And that is perfectly ok.
I know it’s a scary/sad thing to get older and see opportunities that once seemed like they’d last forever dwindle and disappear. The window for your having a biological child (without medical intervention) with a partner you’re well-suited for is closing. Women close to your age will soon be unable to have biological children without intervention, and it’s very unlikely that a woman much younger, even if you found one you clicked with, would want to procreate with a 50-year-old guy who isn’t even all that interested in being a dad. The window is closing, and I appreciate that it’s tempting to want to prop it open or to jump through it while you still can, but when you don’t even seem to like the view on the other side, it doesn’t make sense to go explore, especially when there’s no way back in. It’s not going to keep you younger. It’s not going to stop the sand in the hourglass from continuing to fall.
Without kids, you can still have a rich and full life ahead of you. Without Woman A or Woman B, you can still have a rich and full life ahead of you. You don’t even have to have a long-term relationship to enjoy the second half of your life although there is certainly something to be said for the companionship and care and love such a relationship provides. If any part of you remains on the fence about having a kid and you simply aren’t ready to decide just yet, you don’t have to. (And for what it’s worth, my husband’s dad was 50 when he was born, he lived to 95, and he got to see both his sons marry and meet all his grandchildren; we’re all very glad he had a kid at 50!) Be honest with the women you’re seeing; tell them that most likely you don’t want kids — if that’s the truth — but that you can’t say that with 100% certainty just yet and, if they need 100% certainty at this moment or else need to move on, you understand. I hope they also know that you are not exclusive with either one just yet.
From the forums:
You have some problems in your marriage that need to be addressed asap. That you very rarely have time alone and almost never go out together is a very big problem that has caught up with you. Clearly, if your husband is keeping his interactions with this woman a secret from you — having dinner with her while you and the kids are out of town and not even mentioning it to you, then he thinks it’s something that warrants being kept a secret (despite your never having been a jealous or possessive person or otherwise giving him reason to believe his having dinner with a female friend/colleague would upset you). That you don’t trust your husband (you don’t know if you believe him when he says other men are going to the bachelorette party) is another huge problem.
Twenty years and three children is a lot, and if you haven’t been carving out time to reconnect, let alone discuss the state of your marriage, it isn’t surprising that one of you is looking for an emotional connection elsewhere. I would find a marriage therapist right away and fucking hire a babysitter (or if the oldest of your three kids is a responsible teenager, hire him or her to watch the younger siblings) and go on some dates with your husband. And in the meantime, tell him your husband that because he has been secretive about his friendship with this female colleague, your discomfort is NOT irrational and unreasonable and, until you two have a chance to discuss these feelings under the guidance of a trained mediator, you are requesting that he not spend time alone with her anymore. If he can’t honor those wishes — for example, if he isn’t willing to meet that minimum act of respect for a limited time frame (until you can meet with a therapist) — then your marital problems are probably bigger than you thought and you should start emotionally and financially preparing yourself for the possibility of a separation.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.