“I don’t think I would… No. Sometimes, I do.”

Olivia,* was silent for a long moment. It hung between us, this silence.

Then, finally, “If I could wave a magic wand and make this all go away, I would.”

Were she talking about kidney stones, or credit card debt, we would all nod along, reassured by our shared suffering.

But for Olivia, mother of two, the “this” was her choice to have children.



For many, the choice to have children isn’t really a choice at all. It’s simply what one does. You get the job, you get the house, you pop out some babies and you call it a day. Making a conscious decision isn’t part of that equation.

If childbearing is part of an unthinking rite of passage, there is no psychic tension to be had. But for many who live in bustling urban centers, where joy and passion and fulfillment come in many forms, the decision to parent is not an easy one to make.

Then, there is the growing percentage of us who are wracked with ambivalence.

According to Barry Schwartz, the author of The Paradox of Choice, anxiety and depression result from having too many choices at our disposal.

In his book, he writes, “Nobody has the time or cognitive resources to be completely thorough and accurate with every decision, and as more decisions are required and more options are available, the challenge of doing the decision making correctly becomes ever more difficult to meet.” (p. 74)

How do we grapple with those decisions that will forever change the course of our lives? I became curious about those who make a choice about childbearing and, in some ways, come to regret this choice.

In a society in which indecision is almost unbearable, what happens to those who struggle with ambivalence?

I decided to find out….Read on in Psyched in San Francisco…

Photo Credit: Graham Olive