I think I’ve touched briefly in this blog on whether, if I don’t meet someone, I want a child enough to try to get pregnant using donor sperm. It preoccupies me more than it should. Or maybe not more than it should. I found myself lying in bed the other night trying to work out how much money I would have to earn in order to put a child in nursery so that I could work to look after us both.
I know that I’ve been at kids’ birthday parties and watched them blowing out the candles on their cakes with both their parents, and wondered whether, if I did do it on my own, every single occasion that was meant to be a cause for joy – birthdays, their first step, their first day at school, university, wedding, whatever – would always be a little bittersweet, always feel like, however many family and friends there, there was something – or someone – missing, always feeling like I’d cheated them.
And I know that lots of kids go through these milestones with only one parent, but I don’t know if to deliberately choose to do that makes me selfish. Or whether once you embark on that path you accept it for what it is, make the most of it, and don’t have the time or energy for this sort of navel-gazing introspection.
Today, for some reason, I’m thinking about it a lot. Actually, I know the reason, this weekend I saw some schoolfriends – people I was at school with twenty years ago and more. We don’t see each other that frequently, and it was lovely to see them but it was far harder than I expected it to be being the only one without children. Some are single parents, some are married, some aren’t, but all of them have two children, some as young as four or five, others as old as 15 or 16, but two. And all of them have fathers who even if they’re not living with the kids, are around.
That’s not how it would be for me. I’d be on my own from the very start – despite the best intentions of friends, or family, I wouldn’t have someone walking in the door at 7pm and doing bathtime, however infrequently; I wouldn’t be able to say ‘You’re her/his dad, you take her/him for the weekend’.
And realistically, I’d probably only have one child. I think managing one on my own would be hard enough, the idea that, especially given my age, I could have two, stay sane and keep them alive seems improbable to say the least.
And of course I know loads of very happy only children, and I also have friends whose other halves are so useless that they say they would be quite happy to have had their kids entirely on their own – they say their lives would have been easier. But in a way, it’s easy to say that when you didn’t have to do those utterly alienating, sleep-deprived first few years entirely alone. Because that’s how it would be for me. My mum wouldn’t be popping round to take the baby off my hands, or asking me if I wanted to move in for those first few months, it would be me and the baby. And yes, of course I have friends, wonderful friends, and my sister, but they, almost without exception, have their own families who, understandably, are their priorities.
There aren’t any neat answers to this wondering. Only the nagging feeling that I should probably make more of an effort with online dating in a bid to avoid the situation…