Babies

By December 2, 2009blogging, Jessica, Uncategorized

An interesting trailer. It’s cool to see  visual comparison of different environments and childrearing practices in different countries. The Mongolian baby reminds me of stories my in-laws have told me about Neil’s childhood. While I was super-guarded and coddled as a baby, Neil lived in the country and apparently ate lots of rocks and didn’t wear clothes or shoes until the age of four. He also bathed outside and used nature as his restroom.

I’m generally, as of late, entirely burnt out on the subject of babies and motherhood. I don’t hate babies, (who could hate babies?) I’m just kind of tired of hearing about them. It’s no secret that people in their late twenties find themselves in the season of babies. It’s a default that somehow still sneaks up on us. If you aren’t having babies, then everyone you know is having babies and affecting you somehow indirectly. This year alone I think I know of 15 people who have had babies, and another five or six due to give birth early next year.

When you’re not at that point in your life, you find yourself on the outside of a lot of conversations or being brought in only to question when your time will be. Maybe its a midwest thing, but if you aren’t knocked up by the time your twenties are over, people look at you the same way they look at milk that’s one day from expiration. It’s frustrating having growing hobbies, exciting accomplishments and promising career outlook  suddenly overshadowed by this obsession with babies and when it will happen and who will be next. Neil doesn’t feel the pressure so heavily and I think its because the burden and stigma still fall more heavily on women than men. Even in 2009, its assumed that men will still have an active career AND be a father, whereas women still have to choose. Not so much a weighted choice of  having a career OR being a mother (although it hasn’t disappeared), but what your emphasis will be, almost like college all over again where you have a major and a minor. All in all, people around me having babies feels like a loss, like someone hasn’t died, but walked away from your life. Not in every case, but a lot of them. I’ve known a lot of endlessly fascinating people, and some of them disappear when their kids are born. I get the encompassing lifestyle change a child brings, but did it have to come at the cost of everything else?

It’s probably my sometimes irrationally narrow and rebellious thinking, but I think I’m just frustrated that as many choices as there seems to be for people my age how often people fall in line to a prescriptive life and a collective notion on what something is and means. That’s not accusatory in any way, just an observation. We all went to college ready to take on the world and I was always in awe of all the things people wanted to do and experience. Now that we’re at that point of being capable of affecting real change it feels like there’s no one else around. I’m not saying I don’t want kids (I’m in limbo) but I guess I always thought it standard that you did it once you had some notches on your belt and some stories to tell. I just wouldn’t want my kids to be the outcome of needing something interesting to say for myself rather than the culmination of a lot of great experiences and opportunities taken to the next level. Maybe it’s non-mommy speek, but I still believe there is more to life than being mom.

Alright, you can rip me apart now. This has been weighing on me for months and I wasn’t going to feel better unless I wrote it out.

4 Comments

  • Sheena says:

    I can definately see your point of view. I love writing and I love the challenges of my job. And freelance writing is a possibility, but I have to make more connections and send things in and find someone willing to pay me for my writing.

    And I can’t have the same challenging writing career part time. Places just don’t offer part-time jobs to journalists.

    But I do want kid(s). And I know that the burden will fall on me to choose between work and stay-at-home mom. And I think when it comes down to it that i will make the right choice for me, which I think for me it would be spending more time with my kid and cutting back on my career.

    But looking at that idea now, before I actually have the kid in my arms and have fallen in love with the kid, it’s hard to swallow that decision.

  • Jessica says:

    I know I’d feel the same way, which is why I’m pushing hard in the career and hobbies now. In retrospect this feels like a real downer entry (rare for this blog) and its hard to verbalize the frustration and near-rejection I feel not feeling ecstatic or rabid for kids of my own. I think the bottom line is I wish people would realize they can have kids and still have interests or a persona of their own that isn’t mom.

  • Liz says:

    Thank you for saying this, Jess. I feel the same way about children being the ‘culmination of a lot of great experiences and opportunities taken to the next level’ and not just the next step in what you’re ‘supposed’ to do at a certain age. I think that’s why there are so many lackadaisical parents, which is a shame.

  • Jessica says:

    Liz, “lackadaisical” is officially my new favorite word lol. It’s good to know though that other people are thinking this. I had my doctors visit the other day and my doctor is roughly my age and feeling that way also. There has to be some dialogue that is of the the thought that kids are great but not all-consuming and the key and only way to happiness. Kids are not Jesus. lol.

    I’m horrible.