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Just in time for the holidays…which in the U.S. are quite the kid-focused months, let’s talk about motherhood (or parenthood) ambivalence. Do you want to have children? Are you thinking about having kids? These questions can take on a massive life of their own in our thirties. 

This topic of motherhood ambivalence is close to my heart because I spent so many years in deep consideration about whether I wanted to be a mother enough to make it happen if I didn’t meet a partner in time to be a “biological mother.” In my work with my mostly women coaching clients since 2013, the question of motherhood has come up a number of times. I have so much compassion for women who are wondering, “What’s going to happen? Is this going to happen?” between the ages of 35 and 40 when the pressure to find a partner before the fertility clock runs out seriously rears its head. I often think of this period of time as a passageway of the soul in a woman’s life.

That’s why I was delighted to be invited as a guest on Sarah Dobson’s podcast Maybe Someday. Maybe Someday is about ambivalence: specifically ambivalence about the question of motherhood. Sarah is right when she says we have few spaces in our culture to delve into the murky mix of feelings that many of us feel about being parents. Or relationship for that matter. I love that she has created this space and invited me to be part of it with her.

We don’t often hear that our ambivalence can be a gift, and that’s one thing I am glad we talk about in the podcast. If we are not living on automatic pilot to cross off the societally mandated checklist of “settling down” (marriage, home ownership, kids) we get the opportunity to sort through our feelings to discover what matters most to us. For example, as I share in the podcast, buying a home was never really a major priority for me. Maybe I will want to buy a home in the future, but it wasn’t something that I had to do in my thirties. If we can find the courage to sort through our mess of feelings, we can take steps toward the things our soul really wants. 

Here are some of the things we talked about:

–how I dealt with the pressure of the biological clock–and how that tied into being quirkyalone (and not wanting to settle)

–that fear that you won’t know the true meaning of love if you don’t become a mother, or that being a mother is the pinnacle of womanhood, etc. All that stuff!

–the wistfulness of looking at friends’ family photos on Instagram

–how confronting our fertility expiration dates affects our experience of dating  

–the restlessness that may come up for women at 35 if they haven’t fulfilled the societal mandates of getting married and having children–the feeling that something has to change 

–how climate change put the nail in the coffin of my ambivalence about motherhood

–on a personal note, the awkward conversations that come up on a first date when you’re the queen of quirkyalones (ha, yes, it can be awkward)

If you are in the midst of living this question, I highly recommend you give this one a listen. Thanks to Sarah for the opportunity to share, and here’s to honoring our ambivalences and talking through the nuances.