You can’t order kids off a menu
By Carolyn Hax,
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
My boyfriend doesn’t bring up the notion of wanting kids, so I feel I need to bring it up sometimes. He says he wants kids — a boy and a girl — and I ask him, “What if I can’t have them?”
He seems to dismiss it and I am worried. I have had health issues since I was a kid that might prevent me from having kids. I am okay with not having them (I think — I have to be) but I don’t want him to stick around with me and realize he hates me because he wasted time with a barren woman. He is turning 35 this year, so I wonder when he thinks these kids are coming. What do I do?
What if I can’t have your kids?
He wants a boy and a girl, does he? Does he want them to be tall? Maybe one to be a redhead? One good in art and the other good at math?! Would he like fries with that?!
I think you should be less worried about being “barren” (ugh), and more worried that your boyfriend has made it to 35 without a solid relationship with reality.
I suppose, to be fair, it’s possible that he has a great grasp of reality, is happy to say what he wants and just as happy to adapt to what he gets. In that case, though, there’s an issue with communication. Since you’re half of this equation, he could make all your concerns go away by saying to you, “I’d like to have a boy and a girl, but, obviously, it’s not entirely up to me so I’m fine with getting what I get.”
He hasn’t said that, obviously, so what now? Consider pressing a bit. As in, “You do realize you can’t just go out and pick two kids, the sexes you want, when you want? It’s possible I have no kids at all, or triplet boys, or one girl, or whatever?” If he still shrugs you off, then you can say okay, you’re just worried he’ll come to resent you if things don’t turn out the way he wants.
And you can also do some projecting on your own. You know the guy, presumably, so you know how he handles unexpected life turns, disappointments both minor and major, obstacles, etc. If he’s good at taking life as it comes, then consider trusting that and not even reopening the discussion. (And dealing only with the why-can’t-he-just-say-that? thing.) If he takes things hard and tends to dish out blame, then that’s a problem even if your fertile self delivers his boy and girl on demand.
Re: Having Kids
I thought the bigger issue for the poster was the possibility that she might not be able to have kids, not the fact that her boyfriend seems to think conception is like ordering off a menu. Not that that’s an appropriate way to think about it, but I think the other issue may be bigger.
They’re not separate issues, they’re the same issue. She is trying to talk about reality, and he’s talking about fantasy. So, either he’s not thinking clearly or not communicating clearly. That’s the issue.
Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or firstname.lastname@example.org.