Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

Pregnant during the recession: Deborah Siegel

June 13, 2009

I love this Recessionwire piece by Deborah Siegel:

After the initial chortles of glee, I sobered up. Marco is unemployed at 47. I’m 40 years old. We live in 650 square feet. And we are having twins. Soon. Time to lower the price on our apartment—which we had already put on the market in the hope that our family would one day expand. Time to start swimming to get in shape. Time to start worrying, for real now, about that practical of all practicalities: money, and particularly, money for childcare, because I’m intent on continuing my writing career. If ever there was a time for leaping and hoping the bridge will appear, I think you could say we’re there. Right up against the edge of the cliff. Or rather, more accurately, mid-air.

And yet. Beneath thick layers of anxiety, I find that I’m a very pregnant optimist. With my man unemployed and me acting as primary breadwinner for the moment, what an interesting experiment this could be for our gender relations, thought the feminist in me. The “logical” thing might be for Marco to join the newly expanding ranks of Stay-at-Home-Dads, and for me continue to work fulltime. I am, after all, beginning to write a book about a new generation of men, plus I’m equipped to bring in the dough.

But here’s the thing: feminist or not, I don’t want to miss out on the babies. Unexpectedly strong mommy impulse trumps Vulcan logic. And Marco’s not ready to miss out on his career. He wants to keep being a creative, whether outside or inside the home, something I entirely understand. After two or three decades of “becoming,” neither one of us wants to let our professional faculties go dormant. What a Solomon-like decision that would be.

“I want to have your babies”

April 10, 2009

“I want to have your babies.” I had never said that to anyone before. I’d thought it, once, with S. I’d looked at him and his security and handsomeness and Jewishness and what I thought he’d be capable of, parentingwise. With J. it was more complicated. It wasn’t, “You’d be a perfect dad,” but rather, “I want to have your babies because I love you and think we’re a good team.” It was, to some degree, “I think I could fill in the gaps.” It was, “I want to try to resurrect my own father.” It was so many things all at once, in that one thought.

Most of all, for me, it wasn’t just, “I want babies ASAP.” It wasn’t, “I want babies, generally,” as some pleasant kind of acquisition, like, “I want chocolate.” It was, “I want your babies, babies that only you and I in all the universe could make together.” I wondered what they would be like, how quirky and smart and stubborn and adorable they would be. I wondered what religion, if any, they would be, which grandparents they’d be like.

He never said anything back (this was via email), and I wondered if he ever realized how big a statement it was for me, how much it meant to go there, to explicitly say it. Right before we broke up, like the day before, he started a sentence with, “If we have kids someday…” and it was so weird to hear that. Of course, it ended with, “can we make them deaf/mute?” or something like that. It was a joke but it also wasn’t; I think we could have pushed to make that happen, but I don’t think that was ultimately in the cards for us. There’s more, but it’s more about me and how I was raised, what was there and what was missing, and what I don’t want to replicate for my kids.

It’s a huge thing to ponder, so huge that sometimes I just resign myself to going it alone. There is a time factor, since I am almost 33 1/2, and feel that my chances slipping away each day. I know technically that’s not true, but it feels like it, like I waited way too long to even start thinking about this. Moreso, my grandparents are old. They are 86 (my grandmother) and 85 (my grandfather) – on different sides of my family. I like to think they will live forever, because I don’t know what I would do without them, but I know they won’t, and more than them seeing a book of mine on the shelves or being generically proud of me or whatever it is I want from them, I want them to meet my kids. I want them to hold them and see them and know them, even if for a short time. I want them to know I’m going to be a good mom. I want my babies to know, even if just by touch, these amazing people who are such a big part of me

So, yeah, no pressure or anything. I don’t mean to look at everyone I date in such terms but I’m not gonna lie: I do. I appreciate certain qualities and values that are about so much more than how a person fucks me. It so happens that my current guy, well, he’s great in both departments. Again, I have no idea if he wants to have kids, let alone with me, but I’m talking about what I see in him and just what I look for when I say those six words. If I do. Because for me it’s about much more than love. I loved J., still do, but I don’t know that he would have been a good match for me in parenting. I want someone who comes to it with as much need as I do. Not just enthusiasm or acceptance, but a need from somewhere deep inside to be a parent. To have that bond, a bond that is separate and apart from me. A bond that is special, theirs. It’s little things, little actions, that make me smile, that make me suspect they would be good at all the caretaking that would be involved – caretaking of me and our kids. As much as I desire being a mom, I so often feel like there is a level of research and knowledge and minutiae to it that has nothing to do with, well, the reasons I want to have kids. It’s like a secret parent language and I wonder if I will ever learn it.

“More than one, less than five”

April 10, 2009

I have so much I want to blog here, but it’s time to put up or shut up about both “wanting children” and “wanting to blog about wanting children.”

Last night, I realized that I need to start procreating so I can not be the youngest at the seder table and have to say the Four Questions into eternity!

I feel like more and more, my mission is both to work on my creative output, and to find a way of life that will be suitable for kids. A way of living, not just in terms of work/life, but how I treat my leisure time. I constantly feel so guilty about work I’ve fallen behind on, and what I “mean to” do, and that has to stop.

I also am about to go on the Nuva Ring. I tried the Pill but totally couldn’t remember to take it, which my doctor assured me is totally fine. I’m nervous, both about my ability to put it in correctly (I know it only has one place to go, it just seems so weird), and also, well, it seems antithetical to this super strong desire for children I have. I know that it’s not permanent, and that I’m not ready to literally get pregnant right now, but still…it feels strange, like I’m defeating myself.

Also strange is that I’m now dating someone and we’ve talked about my desire to have kids, but I have no idea how he feels. There was a moment when I totally could’ve asked, and I didn’t. It was a funny conversation, me being typically neurotic, wondering whether humanity is mostly good or mostly evil. “If you think it’s mostly evil, it wouldn’t really make sense to have kids and bring them into this evil world,” I said. I think he cited Hannah Arendt, and we philosophized, and then all of a sudden, he goes, “So how many do you want to have?” It was funny, and cute, and sortof cut to the chase.

“More than one, less than five,” I said, after pausing for a few minutes. I was an only child and I don’t want to do that to my kid. Not that it was so awful, because I got a lot of time alone with each parent, especially cause they were divorced and mostly single while I was growing up. But I see so many pairs of kids, see how they relate to one another, how they have this other little person to learn from and look out for and adore. I read my friend Elise Miller’s post about how at the playground she goes to, her two kids are no big deal, the norm, whereas three is the real status symbol.

I read Lori Gottlieb’s (Yes, Lori Gottlieb who wrote the article on not settling for The Atlantic, and who parlayed that into a book and movie deal for Marry Him! Finding Mr. Real.) essay “Planned Parenthood” in Hilary Black’s anthology The Secret Currency of Love: The Unabashed Truth About Women, Money, and Relationships about choosing not to have a second child as a single mom because of the cost and found it…alienating. I do know that children cost money, and yes, when I truly think about it, I fear I will never be able to afford one, let alone “more than one, less than five.” But I also have to believe that the universe, and, probably, my family, will provide in some way to enable me to be a mother when I’m ready.

It’s weird to have that out there, that I want to have kids, and to not know what he thinks. Everything else about what we’re doing is wonderful, but it’s a tough question to bring up. It’s not something casual, especially because if he tells me categorically he never wants them, I’ll have to either break up with him (and we haven’t even “officially” become bf/gf or anything) or continue to be with him but know that I’m not helping my chances of finding someone to raise children with.

I don’t know. Sometimes I think it’ll never happen, that I’m getting too old and am still so…unfinished. Maybe I’ll want to go back to school, get an MBA or a writing degree. Ideally, I’d be home writing freelance articles and novels while babies nurse and run around. That’s my vision, but I don’t even know if I would like that, if I could stand it. I think it’s what I want, but I’m not sure. I want to do the right thing, at this moment, in terms of birth control, because when I do get knocked up, I want to be able to tell my kid(s) they were wanted, planned for, desired, not the result of me being lazy and horny. It just feels like I’m in the wrong life, this blasé single girl city one, when I want to be barefoot and pregnant with a laptop.