Sleeping is more like it. I got through the end of Oprah for July, which was all about reading. I have read a but further in "Are Men Necessary?" and it is very interesting and thought provoking. It reminds me of an essay I wrote about 4 years ago. The Baby Thing By Julia Frey April 2002 Early in 2001 I overheard a work colleague on the phone with his wife. She screamed at him to come home as she couldn't handle it alone with their new baby anymore. He looked sheepish. I woke up the next morning and had an amazing epiphany: I don't HAVE to have children. The four years previous to 2001 I had spent counting all my possible fertile time remaining and it wasn't adding up well. "Let's see I'm 31, haven't even met a decent man, that could take 2 or 3 more years, that makes me 34. We meet, date for 2 years, get married, then I'm 36. Well, we've just gotten married, we can't rush to have kids, we have to be alone together first. That makes me 39 or 40 before we even start to try. What if we want 3 kids, that means I'll be 46 for the last one. THERE'S NO TIME!!!" Realizing that it wasn't required of me to have children clearly came as a huge relief. Not long after the big epiphany, I discovered the man of my dreams. There I was in October 2001 at my own wedding shower: I made my friends promise "no silly games." Fine, they said, the only rule was to answer one question from the group before each gift is opened. Easy. --Next question! --When are you having kids? --Well, we have discussed it and we aren't sure if we are having any. We might, but if we do, it won't be for a while. Dead silence and blank stares. I have never heard this particular group of friends be so quiet. I laughed, secure in my self-aware state of non-impending motherhood. Cut to seven months later: I'm crying on my husband's shoulder, in bed, "I'm so confused!" We've been married six months (my first, his second, no kids), I just turned 35 and am beginning new paths in life. Suddenly I am surrounded by the hot story of Spring 2002 "Women and Careers and Babies -- You are too old to have kids!" or "Why did you waste time on a career when you should have been pregnant!" Now I'm supposed to feel bad because there could only be 5 years of fertility for me? If we even want kids. We are both on the fence about it and in no great hurry to decide. Why was I so confused now? I had been so sure before. Part of me wants to have a baby, it looks so fun. I run the "Baby Trailer" though my head - you've all seen it: "In a world where ovum are fertile and sperm can swim -- A woman misses her period!" Then come the images: The woman tells the happy news "We're having a baby!" The yucky but heartwarming bouts of morning sickness. The big belly shot: wife with hands on her back, sticking belly out. The rush to the hospital, husband freaking out, wife calm. Doctor: "It’s a Boy!" Dissolve to baby on Mommy's chest, both parents crying. Grandparents oohing and aahing at the nursery window. Cut to 2AM feedings, first steps, first words, first bike… You've all seen this trailer and there is nothing bad about it -- it's a hit, a summer blockbuster! Everyone lines up. Hey, I like a good blockbuster myself. Lately my tastes seem to be going toward the tiny art house film by some little known, but brilliant, Tibetan filmmaker. This trailer consists of silent images of searching, lush exotic landscapes, loneliness, dazzling colors, insight, quiet joy. The audience for this type of film is not large. There is no marketing campaign, no full-page ads in the Calendar Section or billboards on Sunset Blvd. It was a hit at a tiny film festival in Seattle. The most this film would get is a quick blurb in the free weekly paper. I suddenly had a hard time separating my desires. Do I want to have children but am just not ready? Or do I not want children but feel I must because I am bombarded by societal marketing schemes that tell me I do. If my husband and I have children, our decision and my motherhood life path will be instantly accepted, no questions asked. Family and friends and society will breath a sigh of relief -- Ahh, finally, a baby, that's easy and comfortable. Children are a well understood and acceptable direction in life for any woman. My sudden confusion about the baby thing became clear not long after that tear filled night. The focus of my decisions in life didn't have to be so narrow. The baby thing is not about deciding to have one or not. It is about deciding what I want for my life. Powerful forces are pulling me in amazing new directions. Instead of giving birth to babies, I want be pregnant with ideas and spirit and joy. I want to give life to screenplays and books and my own inner life. The choice isn't just "I'm not having children." The choice is about having a bigger life. Maybe having children is too small for me, too regular. It is not disrespect for people who do. I am in awe of people who have children and raise them well. That's miraculous. But it's not for me now; I have other miracles to create. That decision should be honored just as highly, not seen as a second choice. It takes courage to make your own rules and not follow the crowd. No matter if for thousands of years the crowd has been making babies. I want to take the road less traveled in life; maybe there will be a baby at one of the rest stops. And if I have traveled a little too long and can't create my own, we'll adopt.