Your mother lingers way too long in the Children's Department.
She sighs over tiny suits and little sneakers, running her fingers along soft blankets, hugging plush animals. You know what she wants but you're not ready; she might be sure but you're not. Maybe baby for you or, with the new book "So When Are You Having Kids?" by Jordan Davidson, maybe not.
It's the thorniest of decisions, "one of the biggest...you'll ever make..." It's personal, but even strangers want to know; the questions start in your twenties and end when you've acquiesced or aged, although having kids is not a given or a thing by committee. So how do you quiet the busybodies and make the right decision for yourself?
First, says Davidson, ask yourself if you even want children, and after you've looked inward, "it's worth looking outward" at expectations, culture, and things that "shape our understanding of parenthood..." Ask around, to see why others had children but don't be surprised if you get cliches. Throw out the idea that children fulfill you or that they'll take care of you when you're old. Know that genetics, religion, and your parents' parenting styles will affect you; and that if you're queer or Black, there'll be other factors involved in having and raising a child.
Should you decide to the positive, you may still have reservations.
Don't give in to the romance of having kids; it's hard work, and expensive in both money and time. Remember that perceptions of good parenting have "shifted over time" and that having a childhood exactly like yours probably won't be an option for your kids. If you have a partner, communicate your thoughts, hopes, and divisions of household labor and childcare.
Finally, decide how you're going to become a parent. Will you give birth, choose IVF, adopt, foster, or kick the decision down the road?
Says Davidson, the mere ability to ask these questions and decide "is in many ways a privilege."
Chances are that if you hear a screaming baby, you have one of two reactions: you cringe and look for an exit, or you notice and shrug. Either way, "So When Are You Having Kids?" is a book for you.
There are many, many parenting books on miles of shelves, and a number of books on being childless, but author Jordan Davidson pulls the two subjects together here with thoughtfulness, candor, inclusiveness, and a refreshing lack of judgment. This is a book that doesn't promise answers, though: it's meant to give readers – whether they want kids, don't, or are ambivalent – an in-one-place, balanced look at myths, truths, pros, cons, and rarely-considered points for an informed decision. It also, perhaps most importantly, offers comforting reminders that there is no right or wrong, no matter what Mom says.
"So When Are You Having Kids?" is like having a big sister to bounce ideas with or a break-out session in your living room. It's like asking Baby Maybe questions you didn't know you had. It's helpful when you need it in that department.
"So When Are You Having Kids?" by Jordan Davidson
c.2022, Sounds True, distributed by Macmillan $28.99 356 pages