I cannot wait for my kid’s first birthday.

I can wait to be married.

I’m not particularly old, you know.  In fact, I think I still qualify for the antiquated “whipper-snapper.”  Even thinking about marriage at this point in my life is a dumb idea.  For me, mind you–not everyone.  Marriage can wait, oh heavens can it.  I’m not ready to be responsible for the feelings of another person.  I’m not ready to be fiscally responsible for anything more than a beat-up car.  If I’m lucky, I’ll be ready for a place of my own in a year.  I’m definitely not ready to go to school and be a wife, or stop going to school all together because I have responsibilities to a family.  I’m not ready to give up all the opportunities of being single, able to pick up and move at the drop of a hat because all I’ve got is me.  All I’m ready for is a little slow-going romance at most, which is thankfully what I seem to have.  We’ll see if it goes anywhere, but slow is the name of the game.  Snail-like, really.

But, I am ready to hold my first child.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that I would have a boy first.  It’s one of those pieces of knowledge that girls get.  Some get it about the kind of guy they’re going to marry.  Others get it about the school they’re going to go to.  Others still just know the kind of house that they’re going to live in.  I’ve always known my first child would be a boy.  This knowledge has translated into the indelible image of a light-haired three-year-old with hazel eyes, an upturned nose, and freckles.  The hair’s mine–stick-straight and the minute he turns four it’ll go dark, just like mine did.  That nose and freckles–mine, too.  The rest of it?  The eyes, the cheeks, the chin.  They belong to some foreign face that has never materialized.  While this image of my son has been stable throughout my dreams and idle thoughts for years, I have never once imagined the face of the man I marry.

I want that child, so badly.  Not just when he’s three and a scamp, but two days old and a pudgy, fat thing.  I want him on his first birthday, smearing chocolate cake all over his face, only to fall asleep in the mash left over from his enthusiastic fist eating.  I want to see what he looks like the day he gives his younger sister her first dozen roses, as my older brother did me.  I want to see him graduating from college, excited and scared to take on the world all at once.  But most of all, I just want him to be real.

The closest I ever got to him being real was a few years ago.  I was stupid-in-love and engaged at 19.  Kevin was . . . beautiful and charismatic.  He was also a lying, cheating, backstabbing son of a buck.  Our relationship was up and down.  More down than up, as is often the case with these cases.  But the only  time I remember being totally, blissfully unaware of any problems and incandescently happy was when we were arguing about the gender of our first child.  It was a given that we were going to have a big family, but he was convinced our first child would be a daughter.  The car ride that we debated names and gender was one of the happiest, brightest moments of our relationship.  At that moment, we just worked.

Part of me wondered for a long time, what was it about that moment that worked in an otherwise highly dysfunctional relationship?  I’ve come to believe it was my certainty for the future.  I was so sure of the outcome, and here I was talking to the man I thought was going to be the other half of the face.  The bliss of that moment came from a perfect faith in my future, not really from the relationship itself.  I loved that I was that much closer to my goal.  I loved Kevin, too–this was before I found out he was cheating–but I loved this more.  I wasn’t self-aware enough at the time to recognize that I loved my future more than my present, much less realize how much of a problem that was.

Thankfully, that relationship is over.  Kevin is somewhere else, with a long trail of ex-fiancees and one ex-wife (last I knew) to prove that he’s made up the second half of a lot of girl’s dreams by talkin’ real purdy.  And choosing girls who don’t know better than to not trust their dreams.  Obviously, women’s intuition–that part of me that just “knows”–isn’t always right.  My intuition has, in fact, been known to be WAAAAAYYYYY the heck off.  I may have a girl first.  I may have no children.  I find either scenario hard to believe, but as much as I believe in woman’s intuition, I believe in God’s eternal sense of humor more.  My future is up in the air.

Does this have a point?  Not really, except that my uterus recently started screaming, “I’m not getting any younger,” while my ring finger screamed back, “It’s not like we’re getting any older, either!  Not really.  Biologically speaking, we’ve got loads of time before you get all decrepit and become a biological weapon to any child she carries.”  My uterus did not listen.  The clock has begun to tick.  Awesome.

Of course, there is a movie for this coming out soon.  Some creepy Jennifer Lopez flick about someone else with a ticking clock who goes ahead and tries to make a family without the guy only to find a guy and have to deal with the consequences.  So that’s what I need to do!  Listen to my hyper-active, overly paranoid body clock and *poof!* A guy will show up.  The same freaking dayWho will be just fine with me having a baby via whole-sale sperm.  Sign me up!

Let me run a different story by you, see how it goes: I mentally shove my uterus so high my period comes late because it has to travel farther to come out (great image, huh?).  I take responsibility for my feelings, get fiscally settled, go to school for another hundred thousand words or so . . . make that two hundred thousand.  I know better than to estimate low.  I make that crazy pick-up-and-go move with nothing more than my bed, rocking chair, mismatched bookshelves, dresser, and enough books to build the other furniture I need.  Oh, and enough money to buy a seriously cheap, fabulously crappy china hutch off Craig’s List for my chipped family china.  And I let the trail of snail slime ooze behind this slow relationship path I’ve committed to.  Make sure I’m in love with the guy, not the family I can create with him.  Forget the kiddo.  I’ve known about him my whole life.  He’ll come when he’s ready to, which won’t be until I’m ready, too.

Because as much as that clock is ticking, I’m not ready for a kid right now.  If I’m not ready for a close relationship with someone of a similar intelligence level and set of reasoning skills, I’m sure as heck not in a place to create life.  Some of the most reasonable adults are the most irrational people I know . . . and if I can’t handle that, what makes me think I can handle the perpetual irrationality of a child?  Nothing.  Not a single thing in this situation screams “good” to me.  Thank heavens I’ve become self-aware enough to see that.

So, as of today, the biological clock has been out-voted.  So has the ring finger.  There’s no need to rush anything, but there’s certainly no need to hold back either.  I’m young enough to still believe in the simplicity of true love.  Yeah, the simplicity.  And with that belief and my forgivable, youthful naiveté, I still have wild passion to bring to the table.  I’m not giving that up because my ring finger’s a little bit too much of a tomboy.  I’ve got someone who I’m taking a slow shot with.

Take that, traitorous body and brain.  I’m doing what’s right for me.  Not what the surrounding paranoid culture says is the right thing to do.  So everybody shut up.  And let me enjoy my beautiful dream until it all–the father and the son–becomes real.