How do you know when you are ready for children?

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

OPINION: When my cat wandered through the front door recently having defecated itself, it quickly made my partner and I realise we are not ready for children.

The smell came first, then the evidence down Baz's back legs. As we dry-heaved, we tried to communicate what we needed to do while breathing through our mouths.

Poor Baz couldn't understand why its parents, who were usually full of love and affection towards it, were now sporting looks of pure disgust and getting as far away as possible.

I assume this would not be acceptable behaviour with a baby.

It leaves me with a dilemma, how do you know when you are ready for children?

An episode of a popular 90s TV show talked about a woman's biological clock ringing and it showed a literal clock ringing inside of her. The statement was lost on me as a naive nine-year-old.

However as a 27-year-old, a clock ringing to tell me when I'm ready for kids would actually be pretty helpful.

People say 'when you know, you know' but the thought of kids will always be terrifying. They are always going to be hard work and they are always going to be expensive and my card declined for a purchase under $1 this week. So, there's that.

Pressure and opinions from family and friends are always going to be there too.

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When helping me move house and unpacking a rocking chair, my mother told me it would be a great chair for breastfeeding. The next day my sister-in-law was clearing out her closet and gave me a bag of things she no longer needed. That bag included a swaddle, a nappy bag, and a book on how to get babies to sleep. The hints were coming in thick and fast.

My partner, on the other hand, does not receive this level of hints, and baby talk is thrown my way like I'm the reason there's no mini-mes trotting around. Never mind it takes two to make a baby.

That is why at a recent family function when old family friends continued to ask when I would pop some babies out I'd reply with, "ask Will".

It's not their fault though, it's the ingrained pressure and double standard placed on women by society.

Girls are taught from a young age that being a mother is inevitable.

For birthdays and Christmases they are given toy babies that cry like real ones and prams to push them in. 

Whereas boys get action men and superheroes, rather than front-pack baby-carriers, cots, or toys that throw up on you. 

A quick Google search of girls toys shows pretend kitchens, babies, and doll houses and for boys power rangers, toy guns, and hot wheels.

Both options are heavily gender specific and can be harmful to kids' ideals as they grow up. But it shows where pressures arise from.

As I moved into adulthood I realised I had a choice in the matter and went back and forth on if I even wanted to have kids.

Conversations of how many do you want slowly changed from a number I'd thought about my whole life to, well actually, I might not even have kids.

As a woman, I'd say it's a normal reaction to doubt if you want kids. Carrying a human inside you for nine months, morning sickness, can't eat certain things or have a beer after a hard day, and at the end of the nine months there's the excruciating pain of getting the thing out.

Then, once the baby has arrived, the overwhelming anxiety of caring for another human being. Why put yourself through it?

But I know why. Unconditional love and raising a decent human being to fix the world that us garbage human beings are ruining. That's why you put yourself through it.

When my mother was my age, 34 years ago, she was married with three children.

I've only recently got engaged and the only children I have are animals that don't know how to clean themselves properly.

Today, the average age of women having their first child is 30 and the longer you wait, the harder it gets.

That's why, it's incredible that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had her first child at 37. On top of that she did it while in office, only the second world leader to have done so.

But the ingrained pressure on women having children was heavily on display during her campaign.

Jacinda was constantly asked if she planned on having children, a question interviewers would never dream of asking a male leader because it doesn't matter for them, and it doesn't matter for women. It's no one's business.

Especially when they don't know that person's circumstance. They may not be able to have children, may have lost a child, or may not want children.

I'm at an age where the thought of having kids and the thought of not being able to have kids are equally terrifying.

I do feel maternal but if that biological clock was to start ringing now, I think I'd hit snooze.

 - Stuff