HELLO! I have come to helplessly windmill my arms in your direction and whine about babies. Enjoy!
Title card: This is my brain. On babies.
WHAT ARE YOU EVEN WORRYING ABOUT YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME
I know. I know, I’m only 30. But do you know what? By the time my parents were 30, they had a 10-year old kid. They had kept a human being alive for an entire decade. Well, now I’m 30, and all I’ve got to show for myself is a set of mismatched dishes and a very badly stained carpet. Sometimes I can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning, and when I do everything hurts. Dudes, I have started making grunting noises when I try to get up from the couch. The older I get, the less I can picture being able to fit a demanding baby/toddler/small child into this body and this life. And I haven’t even broached the whole “your eggs are already withering even as we speak!” hysteria yet.
I come from a long line of “early” birthers. My mom and her sisters were all done having babies in their 20s. My mother, in particular, started and ended at age 20. And while I have to admit it’s weird to only be 20 years younger than my parents, it’s also kind of rad. They were 38 when I graduated high school and left, giving them their house and lives back. Even now they’re only 51, and their days seem to stretch out before them. In contrast, the beau’s parents are roughly twelve years older than mine. They’re now in their early 60s, and we’ve been troubled to perceive a decrease in their mobility over the past few years. As hokey as it may seem, I worry about my potential kids getting enough time with their grandparents. My paternal grandmother passed away unexpectedly at 74, but because my side of the family skews young, I was able to know her for the first 20 years my life. I would hope my offspring has a similar opportunity to know their grandparents.
Other issues with putting off the baby-having:
- Trouble with labor/delivery: more health complications?
- Infertility — would my aging body fail us and we’d be faced with dumping a bunch of money into treatments just to fulfill the dream of having a pink, wrinkly, wailing, floppy, writhing bundle of poop? And if we were to do this, there’s a high probability that it could lead to:
Now I’ve got age 31 knocking on my door and the weight of an early-procreation family legacy on my back. Which I’ve already failed at, obviously. The early procreation thing, not the 31. I think I’ll have no problem turning 31 in November, unless I inadvertently step in front of a moving train. But I suddenly feel like I’m very old and I’m very, very, very much running out of time.
BUT DO I REALLY EVEN WANT TO?
Someone forgot to wind my biological clock. Or maybe it’s digital and I just never got around to putting in the batteries to begin with. When I see babies, I am largely unmoved. I have no burning desire to nibble on the tops of their heads and gnaw on their little hands and toes, which are confounding urges most fellow ladies somehow seem to possess. Not me. If, god forbid, a baby and I lock eyes, I’m that woman who mutters in alarm, “Oh god, that baby is LOOKING at me,” and then steps behind my companion to hide.
This is not true for me and dogs. When ever I see a dog, I am suddenly a blubbering mound of jellied babytalk. “BUBBY!1” I shriek at my companion, tugging on his or her sleeve. “LOOK AT THE WIDDLE BUBBY! AWWWW! SO CUTE!”
Which in turn leads me to wonder why I’m even bothering to contemplate parenthood. Why don’t we simply move to a new pet-friendly rental house and get a dog?
LET ME GET BACK TO YOU ABOUT THAT ONE.
SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO, DON’T BOTHER
Here’s the thing. I’m not so sure that I don’t want to. The beau and I always thought we’d be parents, some far-off day. I wasn’t particularly girly as a child, as my fondness for Matchbox cars and jumping off of roofs proved, but I did go through a phase where I pretended I had eight kids. They were four sets of twins. My best friend also had four sets of twins, and they were somehow ALL THE SAME STAIRSTEP AGES: eight, six, four, and two. What a crazy coincidence! No father was anywhere in the picture, because who cares about that. I named the girls after jewelry stones: Ruby, Sapphire, Diamond, and so on. There were a couple of boys, too, but I can’t remember their names. Sometimes my imaginary kids would act up, and I’d sit them down just like Danny Tanner on Full House and we’d have a compelling heart-to-heart.
Point is, even if my ideas weren’t always realistic, I’ve always figured I’d be a mom someday. I’m having a hard time balancing that supposition against the reality of my current lack of baby enthusiasm. If I had to couch it in figures, I’d say that 60-65% of us wants to have a baby while 35-40% of us doesn’t. Are those statistics enough to spur us down the path of procreation?
YOU DON’T EVEN DESERVE A BABY
And now the guilt comes crashing in. Because I, someone who does not identify as baby-crazy, am considering trying to have a baby when so many others out there who desperately want one, well, can’t. If I don’t want one that badly, then I don’t deserve to have one, right? I mean, probably not “right,” but this is the way my brain works. Like I’d be snatching some heartbroken woman’s well-deserved bundle of joy straight from the either and making it my own instead. Which doesn’t even make any sense, but my brain. This is how it works.
If I’m a reluctant mother, then I don’t deserve to be a mother. Clearly.
I KNOW, RIGHT?
FUCKING SHUT UP AND JUST DO IT, YOU MORON
I KNOW, RIGHT? Earlier generations didn’t seem to have a problem with overanalyzation. None of this blah-blah, wah-wah, my LIFE, what does it ALL MEAN, eeeennnnnnghhhhh. They just rolled with the punches, man. Once, marveling over the fact that my mother had a baby when she was herself only a “baby,” I turned to her and asked, “How did you feel when you found out? Weren’t you scared?” And she thought for a moment, then replied, “No. I just thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to have a baby now.’” GOOD HOLY CHRIST, how I long for that kind of mental clarity.
My generation, for the most part, was petted and praised and gently pushed in the direction of college and told, “You can be anything you want to be!” And we were like, “Rad! We’re awesome!” And then we got older, and we got jettisoned off to college, and then all of a sudden it was as if we were standing in the grocery store gazing at an endless aisle of glass jars. Did we want the standard grape jelly? Or did we want the raspberry jam? Or were we perhaps craving the zing of a zesty marmalade? What are preserves, anyway? Was it possible to get the raspberry without any seeds? And did we need the reduced sugar version? Except, you know, instead of foodstuffs it was various job and career paths, and instead of a grocery store it was our lives. And in the face of so many options, we desperately worried we weren’t making the right choice for us, so we elected instead to lie down in the middle of the floor and experience an existential tantrum (also cutely known as a quarterlife crisis), arms flailing and feet kicking, screaming and crying and sobbing “WHY, WHY? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?” And then we did it all over again when we got married, and we’re doing it all over again when faced with the baby question. At least I am, dammit, and I’m getting really sick of this cycle.
We spend all this time thinking, and analyzing, and worrying, and so very little time acting. And I think part of it is a reflexive response from watching our parents make wrong choices and not wanting to history to repeat itself. But I think part of it also comes from being a generation that was somehow nostalgic for its own past before it was even old enough to graduate high school; a generation raised on memes, surveys, constantly updating social media, endlessly cycling pop culture, and cunningly personalized media that continuously demands to know: Who Are You? And we somehow grow accustomed to trying to answer that question via how we dress, how we choose to decorate our houses, what music we listen to, what products we buy (“I’m a Mac/I’m a PC”).
But yeah, that’s straying, uh, a bit off-topic.
The point being: we’ve completely forgotten it’s okay to turn off our brains and just do the damn thing, already. Like billions of humans have done before! Not necessarily to their benefit! But that’s okay!
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
Right now, we have this tentative timeframe called “a year from now.” A year from now, we’re supposed to suck it up and go for it. A year from now, according to my feverish brain, I’ll be in the latter stages of 31, and hopefully I’d get pregnant within a few short months, and then I’d have the baby when I’m 32, and then we could wait a couple of years, and try again, and hopefully we’d get a second one just in time for my 35th. Done. And of course, hardly anything ever goes according to plan. Of course, we might run into trouble, or a change of mind, or a change of heart, or a freakishly-timed “accident.” But we SORT OF HAVE A TENTATIVE PLAN.
Which is a good thing, right? Plans are good! Plans are comforting to us A-type people (there I go defining myself again). But no. Oh, no. Because now my brain has decided I have a year of my life left before it is over. I have a year of my life left to somehow save all the money in the world while also simultaneously spending it on all the trips we won’t get to take and all the things we won’t get to do while we’re parenting babies.
I really, really envy those who have just gotten married at 26 or 27. Your late twenties stretch out languidly before you. You have a few years to spend nestled in the secure space of two. Just two. I am terrified of no longer being two. I am terrified of having everything change. I am, even though everybody says it’s not so bad, and that really, it’s quite wonderful after all. I know this, logically, but my heart wants to fight against it. I want to protect myself and my partner from intrusions.
I nearly had a panic attack the other day when I realized that, if we go through with this baby shit, there very likely won’t be another Portland. As in, there won’t ever be another vacation like the one we just took. Another vacation where we wander from restaurant to bar to restaurant to bar again, completely by whim and completely at our own leisure. And while I know that we could still, logically, partake of delicious vacation food and drinks post-children, children have special needs and routines and food requests and sudden tantrums, plus they’re not even allowed in bars. Some of them, anyway. They will probably look at us askance, for example, if we try to drag children into those speakeasy-type bars where the bartenders are all wearing bowler hats.
Or maybe I won’t even LIKE bars anymore after having babies, maybe I’ll just want to stay in all day and watch Dora the Explorer until we all pass out at 6:00 pm, and suddenly I’ll be driving a white 1998 Dodge Caravan and I’ll have this burning desire to decorate my house with inspirational country angels and I’ll have a Wal-Mart credit card and I’ll insist on being taken to Golden Corral for my birthday dinners. I’M ACTUALLY PRETTY SURE THIS IS WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IF I GET PREGNANT. IT’S A SLIPPERY SLOPE, YA’LL.
Ugh. I don’t like this, and in the end I don’t know what to do. I’m totally stressing over the upcoming Final Year Of My Life. I feel like if we’re going to do this thing, we have to do it pretty much now. I feel like I can’t just “relax” and “see what happens.” Because if I haven’t gotten pregnant in ten years of birth control, it’s unlikely to suddenly happen NOW. And I’m not going to go OFF birth control and “see what happens” because then that’s essentially the same as saying YES LET’S HAVE A FUCKING BABY, and I could end up pregnant by next fucking month, and THEN where will we be? Am I ready for that? Are we ready for that? Is our bank account ready for that?
[NO. ALSO IT PROBABLY NEVER WILL BE, SO...]
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha wheeeeeeeeeee!
Are you thinking about babies? Are you thinking about deleting my blog from your reader because I wrote a post about babies? TELL ME ABOUT IT.
P.S. I promise you guys, if I do get knocked up, I will try my level best to be the funniest, most irreverent mommyblogger I can be.
1 A cross between “baby” and “puppy.” I know. I know.