I always assumed that like my mother before me, one day I would have children. When I was 5, my fantasy was to have a hundred dogs and a hundred kids. In my middle to late 30s, when most of my girlfriends were married and having babies, I wasn't having any luck finding a partner. If I was going to have children, I realized I should think about doing it on my own. I was feeling both the social pressures and my own biological clock ticking. And I felt somewhat cavalier: I could raise children by myself; how hard could it be? My mother raised four kids, and mostly without a husband.
I also thought that without having children, I'd be missing something unique to being female. It's incredible that the female body has such power—the gift of giving life. I wanted to know that power and fall in "unconditional love" with a child. No one could ever describe that love to me except to say, "It'll happen to you when you see your baby in your arms."
I made inquiries through my ob-gyn about sperm banks. Four folders arrived at my house with selections of sperm donors, including each donor's eye color, SAT scores, religion, athletic abilities, and hobbies. This catalog was a smorgasbord of DNA choices. I could construct any number of possible physical combinations for my child…except for her to be the product of a union with someone I loved.
When I feel lost and can't make a decision, I just stop and get quiet. I take a time-out. I ask myself, "How does this feel? What do I want my life to be like?" I try not to listen to the shoulds or coulds, and try to get beyond expectations, peer pressure, or trying to please—and just listen. I believe all the answers are ultimately within us. When I answered those questions regarding having children, I realized that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources, and I knew I wasn't ready to take that step into motherhood.
Since then I've found other ways to fulfill my maternal instincts—when a young actress comes to me for advice about her career, or when I give a talk at a school, babysit my friends' kids, or work with children's charities or organizations. And even though I'm now married, my decision still stands.
My newest projects sometimes feel like my children. When my husband, Mark, and I wrote our book, the time, energy, and love we put into it felt very much like parenting. And when we finally dropped the book off at the publisher, it was as if we were taking our child to the first day of nursery school—we were so proud and so nervous.
Being a biological mother just isn't part of my experience this time around. However, I am a mother who continues to give birth to ideas and ways of experiencing life that challenge the norm. My foundation is me. I follow life's changes, continue with my time-outs, and remain curious about what's next.