Tuesday, December 20

This "Babies Business"

The hardest thing I've attempted to do in my life is figure out what kind of person I want to be.  I've sorted through being married or single and come up with someone else in my bed.  I've pondered to be a person of faith or not; though not someone who proclaims need of admiration in my faithfulness, God and I are tight.  I decided to be the person who sacrificed fun and frolic for a paycheck and graduating with honors for the many years I spent a student.  I even decided I was going to be the kind of person who colors Disney princess coloring pages into my 20's.  But the hardest thing I have yet to sort through is babies.  And I suppose, eventually, children.  And even more so, how being responsible for a little human fits into everything else.

This whole "babies business" started about four years ago while I was volunteering for a at-risk youth program here in Birmingham.  One day I was talking to the head of the program and she made the comment "If your children aren't your whole life, you shouldn't have kids."  At 21, I hadn't really given much thought to kids or being a mom other than I eventually would, but with that statement, I believe my uterus started the paperwork to be cryogenically frozen.  I was appalled.  It was like someone had passed a death sentence for 18+ years of my life, only to be lifted when my yet-born children left the nest.  I had goals; go to grad school, tour Italy, swim a mile nonstop, buy red high heels, things and tasks that didn't necessarily involve my children.

For the next four years, I pondered these things.  I asked people and got every answer from "Well of course" to "That's just absurd."  The only clear message I received was the joy in the people who were that shampoo commercial mom, like it was a badge of honor to not have slept in five years or to have adult friends with whom you spend time, and the same people who gave that message gave just as much disgust for the other mom.  People I loved and respected gave me different viewpoints and conflicting messages, and my response was sheer panic.  I didn't want higher risk for birth defects and other complications from waiting until my 30's, so I deduced I better figure this shit out, and soon.   The clocks were a'tickin' waiting for me to sort out what kind of mom I wanted to be.  I bounced from the fear of being a selfish mother, wrapped up in her degrees and trips to Europe, and being that mom you see on the shampoo commercial who finally got time to wash and fix her hair.  I didn't want to be either of those, but I wasn't seeing anyone who was.  I wasn't seeing anyone who lived somewhere in the middle between Soccer Mom of the Year and Dr. Ellis Grey from Grey's Anatomy.  I can't blame all the confusion on the women I know.  At least some of all this is the media and modern feminism; homemaker wives, successful career women, women dying with their grandchildren at their bedside, running away to Italy to lead an examined life, mom juggling a grocery bag and a briefcase, "finding yourself" with wine and salsa lessons, all melted together and poured into a mold that serves only to send mixed and overwhelming messages to those of us who want both and all.  And all this fried my oxytocin receptors and produce a visceral reaction to any and all babies, baby clothes, baby aisle at Target, baby talk, baby planning, and baby making.  All babies business was an evil reminder that I didn't know anything except all the things I didn't know.

Sometime along the journey in grad school, that time of my life where my budding maturity as a 22 year old, failed relationships, interactions with intelligent people from different backgrounds, and ever-growing friendships were bathed in counseling theory and skills, I learned that it is okay to not know, to not know how you're going to end up wherever you do.  In the last year and some since meeting the man I want to have babies with, I've morphed into a person that isn't completely appalled at this "babies business".  I still don't want them any time soon.  I can't imagine actually having a child at this very moment; for now, all I want are my ski trips and video game afternoons and high heels.  I'm still afraid of my husband loving our child more than me.  I'm afraid I won't like my kid.  I'm still scared that I'll be disappointed in them if they don't lead the kind of life I value.  I still don't like babies or think baby clothes are cute.  I do, however, think I'll be freaking adorable pregnant.  We have picked out a girl's name, and I do talk about how's she going to be fabulous and brilliant and Bobby talks about how she's going to be in a convent.  I can imagine myself with a 13 year old; I have a hard time thinking of ages birth-13, but I'm so much farther than I was.  I don't precisely know how I got here; chalk it up to wanting to make babies with someone as pretty as Bobby, I don't know.  What I do know is this- I will love my children.  I will raise them to be productive, kind, faithful, loving human beings.  I won't sacrifice all of myself for my children.  I will still go on vacations with just my friends.  I will still fuss over my hair.  I will wear high heels.  I will eat sushi and feta cheese and arugula and weird hamburgers that most kids don't like.  What I don't know is how to get there, but I don't know how I got here anyway.  So maybe this "babies business" for me is just this- Have them.  Love them.  Have yourself.  Love yourself.  Figure it out.  And if it all goes to hell in a handbasket, I know some good counselors and Italy will still be there.

No comments:

Post a Comment