Baby Mania: when the desire to be a mother comes long before it’s realistic

Baby on your brain? Catherine Hart talks about her yearning need to be a mum.

Have you ever experienced a craving for anything other than food? Perhaps a desire for a more challenging work life? Or a wish to move house and begin claiming your own space in a way you’ve never done before?

Well I don’t crave these things, instead I crave babies.

And it’s not just babies; it’s fantasising about pregnancy, it’s creating scenarios in my head about how I will raise my children. Have you ever dreamed what school you would send your children to? Because I have. And I’m a single woman in my 20s with no likelihood of procreating anytime soon.

When I turned 19 it was like Mother Nature slapped me in the face with an undeniable and inescapable urge to reproduce. At first I thought it could be due to a change in contraception, or because of a recent break up. But I never attempted to forget about it; I acknowledged its presence and carried on with my life (with a considerable increase in longing looks towards nearby babies).

My baby mania possesses me like a spell (maybe Mother Nature is actually a powerful modern witch?). I’ve always joked that I’m lucky my phobia of romantic commitment balances out these urges, but perhaps that excuse is not as relevant as I once believed.

Many of my friends are shocked to hear that I experience such feelings since I have no interest in settling down in a city, let alone with a partner (I guess my commitment-phobia manifests in different ways).

I talk about these inclinations openly and I am often met with confusion from my peers. Some have never experienced these primal urges to parent, some feel the same, and others are on the fence. The reactions are varied, which is exactly as it should be, since each individual is different.

The longing may have never abated, but I am glad it hasn’t come to fruition yet. Considering I’m so ambitious, any sprog of my own would have definitely hindered my chances of becoming the work-focused woman I am today.

However, the feeling is getting stronger. I’ve started looking at the cost of a fertility test. To my own shock (and absolute horror) I have started to consider settling in one city instead of being a flaky artistic nomad. Do I really need a partner to join me on this journey? If not, would I be allowed to adopt a child as a single mother? Should I find a community raising children together?

The most exciting thing for me to fantasise is the type of parent I’ll be. Maybe I’ll be stern but kind, or obsessed with natural food, or maybe I’ll ignore my prejudice and buy them 100 Barbie dolls. How many options there are, but most importantly all of them are good and natural!

Maybe I should get a dog; that might temporarily satiate my nurturing nature until I can make my dreams reality. (This sounds comedic but I am dead serious – plus I would be a great dog-mum).

To anyone who thinks it’s a phase, I can promise you it’s not. It’s a daily thought, and it’s been happening for seven years. SEVEN YEARS. That’s the same amount of time that a young Kiwi attends high school.

This is a sensation that any individual could experience, regardless of gender, experience, sexuality or age. You might experience it and make it a reality, or you might ignore it. Each experience is valid and totally natural.

So do I have any parting words for any other budding parents? Only to not pressure yourself. This is your journey and you know best. It’s all gravy, baby.

Catherine Hart is a writer and theatre maker from Wellington. Most of her work is focussed around encouraging people to be themselves, in whichever form that may take.

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