I keep having dreams that I have kids. (I don’t. I just have a dog.) It’s weird because I never used to dream that I had children, but it’s like my biological clock is frantically waving her hand to be called on as if I can’t see her anyway. I can. I do. I’ve wanted kids for as long as I can remember. Another misconception about autistic children is that they don’t engage in any make-believe play. Not true. Although I’ve never liked fantasy-themed imaginative play or entertainment (princesses, dragons, unicorns, magical worlds, etc.) and things must be realistic to engage me, they do not necessarily need to be “real” for me to understand and enjoy them. There is some fine demarcation between realistic and real where my imagination is comfortable. I played with dolls and played house, school, hospital, farmer, etc. I had four dolls: Abby, Holly, John, and Ryan. They all looked fairly realistic with varying degrees of success. I only liked baby dolls since I didn’t understand how a doll could look like an older child and still be tiny. One of my favorite gifts to this day was when my mom gave me a heap of my own baby clothes to clothe my dolls; I even got reusable diapers!
Anyway, I have loved babies and children and have been fascinated by child development since I was very young so I just assumed I’d always be a mother “someday.”
Biologically, I’d say I’m in that “someday” window; at 30, I’m right around the age that many women have or are having kids, so it must be why my physiology and psychology are speaking in unison in an effort to be heard. Again, I hear you and I am not intentionally ignoring you. It takes great effort and conscious willpower to pretend I don’t hear your screams. Of course, I want a baby too but it’s not going to happen, at least not right now and at least not in the “conventional” way.
There are several reasons why I’m confident that this dream will not be fulfilled and frankly, why it’s probably better that it won’t. First and foremost, the issue is me. I can’t physically have children. It’s honestly not even because of the concerns I have about passing on some of my very undesirable traits and challenges that have genetic influence, although that would be a whole other layer to analyze if having biological children was actually a real possibility. Yes, this a controversial statement, but I’m just not sure it would be fair to my child if I knowingly saddled my child with all of my issues. It’s not even just that, it’s that my child would have to have me as his or her mother, riddled with challenges and parental insufficiencies. I can barely take care of myself. Financially, we are also not really in a place to have children and I don’t really foresee that changing. It’s difficult for me to engage in a traditional full-time job while maintaining some semblance of physical and mental health. Right now, I am beyond blessed in my employment circumstances so that I am able to do so, but this is relatively new and so it carries with it a palpable fragility and anxiety that I will fail.
These are challenges and questions that would need to be considered as a couple like in many situations of partners discussing family planning. They are normal and I’m not qualifying them as deal breakers necessarily. But, I can’t have kids. That system doesn’t work. I can’t physically get pregnant. While I can’t see the future and perhaps something could change in the next 1-8 years or so, I (and physicians) doubt it. It has never really functioned properly.
Maybe someday we will be lucky enough to adopt. I imagine that will never be in our financial cards so maybe we can foster. If nothing else, we can be an awesome aunt and uncle to our nephews and surrogate parents when they need another adult in their lives. And I don’t take these responsibilities lightly either. You can always be parental in one way because there are many children who need and want more parenting. There are also many women and families who don’t want kids so I’m not professing that this should be any sort of universal desire; I recognize and respect that it’s not. For me, it’s a painful pill that gets a little larger and a little more real to swallow every day. It seems that with time comes the ability to recognize when things are not in my control and the patience and hope that they will work out in beautiful but unexpected ways when the time and conditions are right.
I have spent a lot of time and energy over my life trying to force things that I have no business or capacity to influence. I have asked, hoped, prayed, and tried to change things that remain unchanged and are perhaps unchangeable (at least under my own volition and timetable). For now, I will enjoy pictures and quotes from people’s children on Facebook and work on being a better aunt or pseudo-aunt to anyone’s kids (or parents!) who need an extra adult in their life and I’ll focus on being the best person and wife I can be. It seems the shoes of those responsibilities are already more than I am able to fill well! I’ll continue to work on being more present and available for my family and friends and taking this season of my life for what it is: one where I seem to crave being nurturing and there are many people, adults included, in my life that could use it.