Recently, my boyfriend’s good friends Tom and Jessie had their first child, a healthy, chubby-cheeked little boy that they couldn’t wait to show off to their friends. So, we picked out a fuzzy outfit, wrapped it up in pastel paper, and drove out to New Jersey to do the traditional ooh-ing and ahh-ing. When we arrived, we walked in on a scene of familial bliss. Elated grandparents bustled around making lunch. The new father was glassy-eyed with excitement and lack of sleep. And there, in the center of it all, asleep on his Mama’s shoulder was the tiny, perfect new boy: Liam.
“Oh my goodness,” I cooed, “look how sweet he is.”
Jessie looked up at me with a peaceful smile. “You can hold him if you want,” she offered.
“Don’t let her do it, Nick,” one of the grandfathers warned my boyfriend. “As soon as she holds that baby, she’s going to want one of her own.”
With that, my boyfriend practically picked me up and threw me across the room in the direction of the baby. Like it or not, his look said, you’re going to hold that cuddly, sleepy, little bundle of joy!
Later, on the drive home, he smiled at me and took my hand. “You looked so cute holding Liam,” he said. “You’re going to be a really great mom someday.”
“Thanks,” I replied, “but I hope you’re not counting on any day soon.”
“That didn’t make you want to have a baby, even a little, tiny bit?”
He shook his head and sighed.
My lack of maternal desire is usually a joke between us. When I say things like, “I think I might want to have just one little girl.” He’ll reply with, “Don’t worry, by the time you’re ready to have kids, I’m sure that science will have mastered gender selection.” But lately, as all of our friends make giant leaps into adulthood, the joke seems to be wearing thin. After almost four years of dating, we’re both nearing the end of our twenties and he is beginning to wonder if I’m going to be ready to have kids at least sometime in the next decade. The best that I can offer as an answer is a non-committal: maybe.
In an effort to understand Nick’s perspective, I asked him the other day, “Why are you so ready to have kids?”
He looked at me blankly, as though I had asked him: What’s so great about this breathing thing anyway? “What do you mean?” he asked.
“I mean, why is it so appealing to you? How do you know that you’re ready?”
“I don’t know. I’m almost thirty. I love you. I have a stable career. I really want to be a dad and I don’t want to wait until I’m an old man.”
Great, I think. My boyfriend’s biological clock is ticking a lá Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny and mine doesn’t even seem to be keeping time.