Never say never, but I’m done having babies.
This was apparent to me Saturday, our weekly “Adventure Day” when my kids and I do something fun and unusual. This week we rode the subway to Chinatown where we shared a bubble tea (and got a lesson in urban race relations when a tiny, elderly Chinese man screamed f-bombs and n-bombs at a very large young black man so loudly that my daughter clapped her hands over her ears and curled into my shoulder. I like when Adventure Day has an educational element). I treated them to spring rolls and pho at my favorite Vietnamese joint and we strolled the streets of lower Manhattan, wandering in and out of shops.
It was fun and easy. That’s the thing: it was easy. The kids just turned 3 and 5 and this was one of the first Adventure Days that did not require a stroller, diaper or coordinating around nap time. I felt free as a bird! My mind reels with dreams of all the fun family activities and trips we will take. Mine are now children. They’re done being babies.
And I feel pretty done having babies. While friends will occasionally ask if I want more children, I don’t feel much pressure to make a decision. I’m single, after all. I have two kids who are awesome and healthy. A girl and a boy, for crying out loud. Plus, I’m 36 – my fertility’s time is coming to a close. Never say never, but I’m set.
I’ve noticed something interesting about the single dads I date, however. Several of them have launched into early, unprompted, somewhat defensive explanations about why they’re reluctant to have more kids. Frankly, it can make me feel a little defensive. I mean, can I get through my beet-pecan-gargonzola salad before committing to a family planning agenda, please?
This is what I surmise: These recently separated or divorced men spend years in unhappy, often chaste marriages and they fantasize about all the young women and hot sex they will have when they get out. When these guys jump onto OKCupid, they soon realize that many of these lusty ladies of their dreams may indeed be young and cute. But they’re not that young. Their uteruses are screaming! At the guys! They need to make a decision – are they open to having more babies? Yes or no, cuz dude, time is wasting!
This dynamic is one of the reasons I prefer to date fathers of young kids – they tend to be on the same babymaking page as me. I’ve gone out with a few childless guys who made it clear they wanted to have children of their own. I very much appreciate that position, and I may one day find myself thrilled conceive or adopt a child with a second husband. But this is not a driving force for me. Instead, I think about how amazing it would be to be a stepmom, or what a great gift it would be for my children to love and be loved by someone they see me partnering with – and for our children to grow to care for one another.
I’ve written about how having my children has freed me up to enjoy dating and men in a new, wonderful way. Several of the dads I’ve gone out with seem relieved to find that my biological clock has more or less run out of batteries, and that I’m not replacing them anytime soon.
I see this freedom as a unique advantage that many single moms enjoy over our male counterparts — not to mention our childless, female ones. Single moms like me are liberated by not needing another child — nor the need to find a man to sire one. The less you need from a man, the easier it is to enjoy him, and take your time getting to know him for who he is.And the less pressure a man feels from a woman and her screaming womb, the more he can enjoy her, too.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.