I Wanted Kids, He Wasn’t Sure—Here’s How We Met In The Middle

I’ve always wanted kids. I have two young siblings so I’m used to changing diapers, getting very little sleep, and trying to keep two very energetic miniature humans entertained. Imagine my distress when I found out that my current boyfriend doesn’t feel the same. While this might sound like a pretty major deal breaker, we managed to work through it—here’s how.

We discussed our views on the subject fairly early in our relationship. I’m a firm believer that once you realize that you’re in for the long haul with a person, you should discuss the big subjects like marriage and kids. For us, that chat first happened around six months after we became official. We knew we were falling hard for each other and wanted to check we were fully compatible before things got really serious.

We tried to detach our emotions while talking about the topic. I can remember the first night the topic came up like it was yesterday. We’d just been to the movies and stopped at the grocery store. While we were there, a child accidentally knocked over a stand of products and my boyfriend made some kind of joke about it being an example of why he doesn’t want kids. Unfortunately, this coincided with a bad spell of depression for me and my reaction was to cry for literally hours about the fact I was either going to have to break up with him or be childless. After that, we decided that our conversations about parenthood should probably remain more practical than emotional.

We talked thoroughly and honestly to prevent future misunderstandings. I’d assumed that my boyfriend’s offhand joke meant that he hated kids and didn’t want them at all. The truth was that he simply hadn’t ever thought about it before. This is his first serious relationship, so he legitimately had no reason to consider having children before now. He still wasn’t massively keen on the idea, though. He wanted to make sure he had an established career before he even considered fatherhood. My own view was that this was far too late. I figured that we should at least think about this concretely to prevent unpleasant surprises 10 years down the line. I didn’t want to be mid-thirties and suddenly find out that I’m incompatible with the man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with.

We came up with a reasonable compromise that we were both happy with. It became clear to us that our views on kids, while not entirely incompatible, were still pretty different. However, we were fairly sure we could come up with a compromise that would suit us both. We managed to find a middle ground between my “as soon as we can afford it (still a few years off)” and his “ehhhhh let’s leave it until the year 2035” approaches.

We set a clear timeline that worked for both of us. We eventually settled on first thinking about having kids in around seven or eight years’ time, when I’ll be on the cusp of 30. It’s not so late that older-mom fertility issues will set in, but it’s not too early either. This timeline is conditional on our actual situation all these years in the future, of course. If for some reason our financial situation is difficult or our personal circumstances are tough, we obviously won’t bring a child into the world just because of some arbitrary time limit we set way back when. I’ve also decided not to have children until my depression and anxiety are under better control.

We based our plan on what we wanted, not what others expected. If my grandma had her way, I’d be long-married and already have a couple of kids to care for! However, that’s not how we want to live our lives. We’ve decided to essentially ignore what the rest of the world thinks and do things our own way.

We resolved not to talk about it again until it’s time to get procreating. After we’d had our sit-down chat about what we want from our relationship long-term, we decided that we probably shouldn’t talk about it again for a little while. Why would you keep going over the same ground again and again? I have friends who’ve argued with their partners repeatedly about these topics. To us, there’s just no point in doing that—it would only bring stress and misery.

We managed my ridiculous maternal urges by getting a cat. For some reason, my broodiness levels hit the roof as soon as I hit my twenties. I couldn’t be around a baby without a ton of hormones coursing through my body. Since having a kid now isn’t feasible, I channeled my maternal urges into pet ownership. I’m officially the most attentive cat mother in the world. Looking after my dear Kitty (yes, I know, original name) has sated my motherly urges for now! It’s also excellent training in how to look after a small, helpless being. I only hope that my future children are a bit less furry than Kitty.

It taught us early on how to solve disagreements. By having such a serious conversation early on in our relationship, my boyfriend and I got so much better at communicating. We know what does and doesn’t work for us when there are things we need to discuss. We find discussing our individual needs much more comfortable than before and are absolute whizzes at compromising. A disagreement that could easily have ended our relationship actually made it a whole lot stronger!

If anyone else asks us about our views on kids, I shut it down. It’s our business and ours alone; why does a random coworker need to know if we’re about to pop out a tiny human? We’ve taken control of our relationship’s narrative, and no amount of prying questions will change that.

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