I am almost 31 years old and I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for five years, four of which have been long distance (he is in Canada and I am in New York, a five-hour flight away).
I recently started my absolute dream job in New York, he has been at a firm in Canada for 12 years and also loves what he does. I would never want him to quit his job, my career is a bit more flexible and, perhaps, one day I could relocate for him. We care deeply for each other, understand each other, and laugh together. We are very much in love.
Since we began dating, however, he has expressed his doubts to me about wanting to have children. I have pushed these aside, as I have assumed that most men are not wired to be thinking about children the way that women are.
I am so excited to become a mother one day and I have always told myself that he would eventually change his mind.
Due to COVID, we have been quarantining together which has presented many opportunities to have substantial discussions that our typical weekend visits do not normally allow for. One of our more recent, serious conversations was about wanting to have children. In that conversation, he stated that “being with him should be enough.” He now feels as though I am giving him an ultimatum – a baby or him? I am left feeling guilty and selfish in some way for wanting to build a beautiful family with him. He says his opinion might change over time, but Jule, I am almost 31 and this feels incredibly risky. What should I do? Help me, Bee!
Torn in Two
Dear Torn in Two,
In my first marriage, I found myself in the role of cheerleader more often than I wanted to be.
“You can do it!”
“We can do it!”
“C’mon, dontcha wanna do it?”
After a while, my arms grew tired waving around those pom-poms. After all, I hadn’t technically been a cheerleader since high school and at 30 years old, I felt like it was high time to retire, wasn’t it?
I cheered him on; to our engagement, through our wedding plans, and then I started cheering for a baby.
“Gimme a B! Gimme an A! Gimme another B! How ‘bout a Y?”
“What does that spell???!!!” You get the idea.
It was exhausting.
And here’s the thing, there is cheerleading for support, and then there is pushing and convincing.
I’m gonna rip the Band-Aid off fast.
Hang up your pom-poms, darling girl. And break up with the captain of the football team. YOU need the loveliest dork. You heard me. You need a mensch (the Yiddish word for a person of integrity and honor).
Let’s get this straight. Wanting a baby, wanting a family, is the least selfish thing you could ever ask for. It’s a daily, sometimes hourly, sacrifice. There is NOTHING selfish about it.
“Being with him” should not be enough, whether you want children or not.
You are entitled to want it all.
The love of your life, the dream job, the house, the babies, the dog, and even the fucking white picket fence if that’s your thing (I personally prefer a naturally aging cedar, but that’s for another article). You’re entitled to want them all and to be in a partnership with someone who wants those things, too.
And here’s the thing. All of those lovely, beautiful things don’t necessarily come easily. You will work for every single one of them. And even with the right person, the right mindset, and a pure heart, these things are hard. And while you can hope and work fervently towards them and for them, there are no guarantees and it is HARD.
You convince someone that they want a puppy, not a child.
By year four of my marriage, I was tired. I’m sure he was too. My cheerleader uniform was back on again.
“Gimme a B!” My voice was weaker this time.
“Gimme an A!” I was so deeply sad.
“Gimme a B!” Actually, I was kinda mad too.
“Gimme a Y!” Yeah, like full-on fired up pissed.
What’s that spell?
What’s that spell??
I can’t hear you! C’mon, what’s that spell???
For us, it spelled divorce.
I was 30. I had been married for nearly four years, with him for 12, and I wanted a baby.
But first, I wanted a divorce.
Don’t worry sweet pea. I know you’re crying right now as you read this. That’s ok, get it out so you can move on and hang up that scratchy old uniform. It was cute at 15, not so much at 31. You wanna know what happened when I hung up mine? I made space for Bazz.
Cedar Fence (I believe in being specific when conjuring)
I worked hard for all of them. I dreamt them up and went after them like it was my job.
But here’s the thing, life is difficult even with all of those beautiful dreams realized.
Bazz and I have lost parents, we have lost step-parents, and we have even watched friends lose a child. And, even in a pandemic, we partner, we parent, we love, and sometimes we fight.
It ain’t easy.
Being a cheerleader is hard work, cookie face. Have you not watched “Cheer” on Netflix yet??? Make sure you’re choosing someone who is spotting you in life’s double backflips, ok?
Sending you loud love through my megaphone.
“B”EE is for baby! Shop here for Jule’s favorite go-to baby essentials, including her Goyard tote that she used for Dexie Doodle and continues to use to this day. *Jule is not a believer of diaper bags; grab something BEEautiful, light, and deep that will take you from baby to big kid.
Have a question for Jule? Dating getting you down? Friendship in a frenzy? Mother-in-law making you mashugana ?? Nothing is off-limits. Everything is anonymous! Ask The Bee HERE!
All illustrations by @courtneycoloring
Oh, Bee…. we need you at all times. I decided not to have kids but stayed in a horrible relationship for 13 years. I now feel so tainted and can’t figure out how I’ll start again. My missteps were beyond embarrassing when I finally left my ex. And his were pretty bad too- he lost his medical license and can’t practice. Anyway it all seems insurmountable. And I left him while loving him still. Now it’s been three years and I still love him but know I can’t contact him and ugh how do I even try to date? My confidence is broken. Help?
Hi Tessa! I would love to help. This is going in my Ask The Bee file and I will respond with my thoughts and advice as soon as I can!! Xx Jule
And now I’m sobbing…. guess I need to pull up
My boot straps and try again but it’s so hard. Love you, Bee. Thank you for telling us what we need to hear.
Bee, You are so right on. It is devastating I know to hear, but your advice can save exponentially more years of hard. And opens the door to our true dreams.
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