Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The best policy

One of my closest friends claims to be childfree. Her boyfriend of three years fathered a child as a teenager and had a terrible experience – as I understand it, the parents of the girl refused to let him be a part of the child’s life, and now he’s got a 10-year-old who doesn’t know him. The family ignores his existence, though he notifies them every time he moves in case they or the child wants to find him. It’s a crappy situation, though. He’s also a bit of a playboy, a character trait that I don’t appreciate in him because it’s not at all what my friend needs, even though I consider him a dear friend as well. He could be a great boyfriend… to someone else. Someone who doesn’t want kids and is open to an open or poly relationship.

So anyway, she claims to be childfree. Career-centered in a high-powered job, making money that my husband and I will likely never see, she claims she doesn’t care about kids and would rather a life without them. But I could tell her heart wasn’t in her words. I recently brought it up to a mutual friend who confirmed my suspicions.

She desperately wants a baby. She desperately wants to get married. But she’s invested so much time, money, and emotion in this relationship that she doesn’t know what to do. She’s 33 and at a crossroads where she needs to decide what she wants from life, because her career as it is today and raising a child as she wants to are mutually exclusive.

I wonder at times why she isn’t honest with me. Because I can’t relate? I suppose. Because my husband and her boyfriend have talked about getting vasectomies at the same time and having a big party? Maybe. But mostly I think it’s because she’s trying to convince herself.

It’s not that she doesn’t find a childfree life unappealing. She has the money to travel, the career that takes her to the most amazing places. She loves the city life and knows that the white picket fence that she dreams about doesn’t really suit her personality, and yet she wants it so badly sometimes.

But she’s stuck with this guy, this guy with a great heart who’s just so not right for her and who, at times, I think feels as trapped as she does in the relationship.

I want to talk to her about it, but I don’t know what to say. I want to tell her I can tell she’s not childfree in her heart, that maybe she needs to take some time to decide if it’s just biology having its way with her or if she really does want to slow her life down and raise a child. She deserves someone who’s better for her than who she’s got now, someone who will give her more than “If you want me to marry you I’ll marry you.” He loves her dearly and I don’t doubt that, but they won’t be happy. If he gets this vasectomy I know she’ll resent him for it. I want her to know that it’s okay to want a baby, and to want more.

Ultimately, she's in control of her own fate and needs to be honest with her boyfriend. Sometimes I wonder if she just needs somebody to confirm that it's okay to be conflicted about his vasectomy, and that if she really wants to have biological children with him, then she needs to speak up now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your friend's boyfriend, with a 10-year old whose family keeps him out the picture, has some legal rights to visitation. If he's serious, he can check with a good lawyer and with the local legal authorities for more information. However, he may also be liable for child support if he does...which I submit, he should be paying, to the best of his financial ability.