Hi, all! I’m readyformaybe, friend of mannacakepie, and new contributor to the blog. After a brief pause, my husband and I are once again trying to conceive. Looking forward to sharing our story with you and hearing more about yours!

I strive to be a moral pragmatist. I look at my life in very straightforward, practical terms, but I aim to do so with a strong sense of personal and collective responsibility. How very noble, right?

In reality, most of the time I get emotionally swept up into the same culturally based assumptions that many women like me—white, privileged, educated, with economic means—do. On my best days, I eventually am able to scrounge up the necessary willpower to resist them in small, subversive ways. A few days ago when our water heater broke, sending a deluge of rusty water through our bathroom ceiling, I was the one who told my husband he didn’t need to miss work; I could deal directly with the plumbers myself. They were nice as could be, but unsurprisingly, ended up calling me “Mrs. Husband’s Last Name,” and I didn’t correct them (I didn’t change my name when we married). We all have to pick our moments.

For a woman who is (a) trying to live into a spirit of mutuality in my marriage; (b) committed to work that promotes justice for women and girls; and (c) prone to too much overthinking, the notion of having a child is complicated. There is so much bullshit about motherhood that gets spread around, and wow, does it stink. Whenever I bring up my dilemma, so many of my friends try to reassure me that having a kid is THE BEST THING EVER. Don’t get me wrong; I see how much joy their kids do bring them. Last month our friends’ one-year-old stumbled successfully across the kitchen right to me, reaching with outstretched arms and a huge, drooly smile. It felt…amazing. But this kind of cuddly, warm-fuzzy experience surely is not enough to constitute a substantive reason for me to become a parent myself, could it?

My husband and I have gone round and round about the reasons we can come up with that favor us having a child. Not that we’re making some kind of “pros” and “cons” list, though it would not be unusual for us to do something like that. It’s more the realization that in all likelihood, this is the singularly most irreversible decision we will ever make. It will have a profound impact on our lives, but more than that, our decision to parent will have an enormous impact on another human being—our child. We take this incredibly seriously. And that’s something I do not hear people talking about. Why is that? Why are we afraid to share our deliberations about this huge life decision?

I recognize that not everyone has the opportunity to engage in this kind of deliberation. All kinds of barriers—poverty, lack of education, high fertility, entrenched cultural biases—stand in the way for many, many women. I also know that some people just know that parenting is something they want as part of their lives—in very much the same way I just knew I was going to marry my husband when I first met him. I’ve been waiting for this kind of definitive “yes” or “no” to kick in, but it hasn’t. But does that lack of gut feeling mean that I shouldn’t have kids?

One night I was talking about all of this with mannacakepie, and she shared that she could see my life as having two awesome, albeit different tracks—one with kids, one without. Somehow knowing that makes the decision easier (I can’t go wrong!) and harder (which one is “right”?) at the same time.

On a work trip, I met up with a friend for drinks, and we got to talking about my confusion about whether to parent or not. I was struggling to figure out a good reason to have kids when there are many other ways for me to bring goodness and love into the world—things I could do if I never had children. A moral pragmatist herself, she told me that her style of parenting her two kids is raising them “for the common good.” Maybe it was the vodka martini I’d just ingested, but I thought this was the most inspiring approach to parenting I’d ever heard. It wasn’t narcissistic or romantic. It was practical, yet visionary. Having kids can be about community, about providing a healthy environment for them to develop, about respecting them as their own people while teaching them about our shared responsibility to care for another. This was something I could wrap my mind around and say “yes” to.

I have no idea what the future will hold. My husband and I have just gotten back into actively trying to get pregnant, and I have all kinds of anxieties and fears about how that will go. But now I do know that if we become parents one way or another, we will strive to raise our children for the common good. That would be something amazing, wouldn’t it?