Can you research becoming a parent? (Or did you?)

15 May 2019

Confession: for the longest time (and especially after I turned 30), I've paid special attention to books, podcasts, blog posts... anything really that touched on what it's like being a parent - a mother in especially. I've read birth stories from blogs, was obsessed with a podcast where a couple tries to work it out for themselves, and consumed countless novels and non-fiction books on the topic.

Initially it was out of curiosity but as I edged into my early-to-mid thirties, part of my interest was genuine problem-solving. Could I do the work and discover whether or not I am meant to be a parent (or would like to see if it's a possibility)?

In 2018, I was especially focussed in my research, so much so that a co-worker with a similar approach gently suggested I take a break. I ignored her advice until I read this essay by Sloane Crosley called The Doctor Is a Woman last December. For a story about fertility in your thirties it's surprisingly funny. This line stood out: "... as a literate female, it's difficult to control the flow of stories debating the merits of motherhood..."

There was something about that particular essay that made me stop seeking out more material to consume. It also freed up a chunk of brain space that had been freaking out about making a call either way. While I still think about whether or not Tony and I will have kids (it's something we talk about often), it's no longer an anxiety or a problem that needs to be solved. At least for now.

The only thing on the topic of parenting (or not-parenting) I've tuned into recently is Motherhood Sessions, a podcast that I knew of but wasn't sure was for me until Erin described it as a show that explores the "psychological big-bang" of motherhood.

I've listened to two episodes so far and they remind me of Death, Sex & Money and Esther Perel's Where Should We Begin? combined. A reproductive psychiatrist hosts the show and sometimes I let my brain drift back into research-mode but most of the time they're just fascinating stories. This episode about rethinking your cultural identity and roots after motherhood is especially good.

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