Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Maggie is an award-winning high school math teacher and Zumba instructor in Massachusetts. Maggie is not her real name because as a high school teacher she likes to keep herself off the internet. Maggie is the name she uses when she is out; her friends dubbed her Maggie because she is magnetic.
MS: How old are you?
Maggie: I’m going to be 42 on Monday.
MS: Do you want kids?
Maggie: Yes, I think so, I don’t know. I love kids.
MS: You said a fast “yes” and then “I think so,” and then “I don’t know…”
Maggie: I think I would love to have kids and be a good mother and then I took it back because I don’t know if I’m going to have them. I still would want them. Or I would want someone else’s kids. Yeah, I want to be with kids. I would rather be with kids than not. That’s my answer. (Laughs)
I don’t know if I’m going to have them.
MS: You would rather be with kids even if they are someone else’s kids and you got into a relationship with that person…
Maggie: or foster or adoption…
MS: So, do you think about adoption?
Maggie: I don’t think I’m strong enough to do adoption yet. If I felt that strongly about it I think I would have already started looking into it. Now, it’s just thinking about mentoring, Big Brother, Big Sister, fostering.
MS: Do you have a plan to foster or is it just in the back of your head?
Maggie: No plan, it’s just a possibility.
MS: Do you feel any sense of urgency when it comes to getting kids into your life?
Maggie: No, I might have thought that in the past, like six or seven years ago.
MS: Why do you think it doesn’t feel as urgent now that you are turning 42? Why is it less urgent now that you are older?
Maggie: Maybe because you have no control over having your own children, and I thought I did before, and I’m just realizing I don’t.
MS: What are your reservations about fostering?
Maggie: Committing 100% of my life to it and not being able to afford it, but I think they help you. But I would love it. I would want an older kid. Not under 5. Older than 5.
Maggie: I think that part of raising children sucks. (laughs) It appears to from every single person I know. It just seems really hard until they can do things on their own and function with other people.
MS: Not that the teenage years are easy.
Maggie: No, but I love them. I am with them all day and I love them.
MS: Does being a teacher scratch the mom itch at all?
Maggie: You definitely get to give all of your love to kids. Maybe you don’t get all the love back.
Someone told me: don’t have kids to have love. That’s not really fair to the kid. I am 50/50 on that because that is unconditional love.
MS: Do you think that’s a part of why you want to have a kid?
Maggie: I thought it was, but
I think I really just want love with a person and not a kid. I would like to have kids but I think I really want love more. Love.
MS: Do you think there will be a point, if you have not met anybody, that you will take action and try to foster a kid or adopt a kid or are you just not going to think about that until you have to think about that?
Maggie: I don’t really know. I think that you make your path and you try hard at everything you are doing but you don’t go out that far ahead and force your path. For example, I won this award and that will definitely give me opportunities. Someone wrote me about a fellowship. Do I want to focus on that?
So, I guess right now I am not totally focused on doing something about being a mom, at all.
MS: Do you think not having kids has affected your career?
Maggie: I think that compared to people in my department I can do a lot more than they can. It’s hard to be a teacher when you are being a mom but they do it. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know how I would be able to do both. I mean I would have to. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now if I had kids.
MS: You mean the level of work?
Maggie: All the stuff after school with the STEM team. How could you? When would you do it?
MS: Is your life different from the one you imagined for yourself when you were younger?
Maggie: I like that question because I never imagined anything. I never pictured anything.
MS: Do you think most women do?
Maggie: They say they do. I never pictured a wedding, I never pictured a husband, I never pictured kids, I never pictured a house or where I lived. I never pictured anything.
MS: What’s the worst thing that anybody has said to you that made you feel bad about not being a mom or not having kids?
Maggie: I never felt bad about it, I don’t think. Maybe you don’t remember the bad feelings when you are not feeling them.
MS: What do you think the advantages are of not having kids?
Maggie: You can do whatever you want and go wherever you want. Travelling. You can put the amount of effort you want to put into anything. You could change your whole diet, you could work out more, you could do anything that you feel like you want to do with yourself or with other people.
MS: What do you think are the disadvantages of not having kids?
Maggie: I think it would be a really good experience. I think I would love it. When I held my niece for the first time, I never loved anyone that much in my life and I still love her the same. That would be awesome. I know that would be a good feeling.
I know I would be a good mom. I think I would provide a good life for someone.
MS: If you could go back in time 20 years and give yourself a message, what would that message be?
Maggie: Sometimes I think that people who dated early in high school all got married, and I didn’t really date in high school. I was so into sports and school and my feelings got hurt a lot, so I didn’t really pay attention to that part. These people experienced all these things, tried things and then grew with it and they were all doing it at the same time and I was like: I have no idea what is going on with that. I just totally didn’t get it and then by the time I did, we were out of college almost. Then in college I couldn’t do that (have sex) because I never had and I didn’t want it to be just random. Every time I went out with someone I wouldn’t do anything with them and they just broke up with me. I didn’t like that.
MS: If you could tell mothers anything that would make them more sensitive and kind to non-mothers what would you tell them?
Maggie: I would tell them,
Don’t feel bad for me. I don’t want you to pity me because I don’t have kids.
You have no idea what my story is or even if I want them. You shouldn’t feel bad for me. How can that be a premise of a relationship?
MS: Have you felt that from people?
Maggie: Not a friend, I don’t think. But sometimes. I think it’s a look. I don’t really notice that stuff, or I ignore it.
MS: Do you feel pressure to have children?
Maggie: Some people say weird stuff sometimes. Like someone said something to my friend who said she was going to have a baby and her friend said, you have a 50 percent chance of having a down syndrome baby. Is that even true? That wouldn’t even cross my mind. Maybe I just ignore the fact that there’s supposed to be some kind of a risk to having a kid because I don’t know if it’s hearsay or if it’s real. I don’t really read about. Why would I read a study, if you are going to have kids late, here’s what could happen. It’s like reading that “What to Expect When you Are Expecting” book, here’s everything bad that could happen. You should be informed but you shouldn’t freak out. If I were going to get married and have kids I wouldn’t think: we shouldn’t because we’re 45. I would just do it. If it’s a child with a disability. I don’t know. I don’t think about that.
MS: Imagine women 10 years younger than you, a 32 year old, what advice would you give them if they don’t know if they want to have kids?
Maggie: Don’t freak out about it. I don’t want to say, don’t think about it, but decide what you feel and go with it. Don’t be influenced by anybody because you are the one who has to live with your decision either way.