It’s a stinking hot Melbourne summer afternoon, and I’m doing my best to clean out my mother’s shed full of junk. I’ve just broken the news to her that I’m following the love of my life to live in the United States, but it’s not my impending absence she cares about.
“I don’t worry about you moving away,” mum says with less emotion than I’d secretly like. “I worry about you not having a child, or having a kid over there and me being on the other side of the world from them.”
As her only child, and therefore her only possible outlet for grandchildren, there’s a fair bit of pressure on me to produce.
That was two and a half years ago, and having kids was not on my radar. As I do so often – too often, really – I didn’t take what my mum said seriously at the time.
'“I don’t worry about you moving away,” mum says with less emotion than I’d secretly like.' Brett's mother holds him as a baby. Image supplied.
I’ve never felt comfortable around babies or toddlers, but at age 31 and with the relationship with my partner as strong and solid as ever, I’m starting to feel the urge to grow our family taking hold.
Can I chalk it up to the seemingly constant stream of fresh new baby photos posted by my friends on Facebook? Is it the adorable way a toddler joyously reacts when they see my dog on a walk, or the cheeky kid who catches my eye on the train and forces me into a game of peek-a- boo before fondly waving goodbye as the child and parent get off at their stop?
I’m clucky, and my partner has noticed. “Aww, you want to put a baby in my belly,” she says, with mocking delight. She’s great with kids and we both want them at some stage in the future, yet I don’t feel quite ready for the responsibility of bringing a human being into the world.
I always assumed there would be a moment when you are ready to have kids. It would appear as obviously as the cartoon light bulb above a cartoon character’s head.
But now as the time seems to be approaching to take the big leap, this one question keeps circling in my head like a hurricane: how am I meant to know I’m ready to be a dad?