Sometimes I think there’s an invisible baby in my life. It follows me around, waiting, gurgling and cooing in pointed judgment.
I measure stuff against it. “So if I can get this damn book published by the time I’m twenty-seven. Twenty-eight, maybe. Then I’d maybe be ready.” It reminds me that I’m getting older, faster, all the time. “What are you, thirty-nine? Oh, twenty-five! Not so different…Your eggs are already shriveling and growing more diseased and lopsided by the second. You’re not a kid anymore. Which is too bad, since you hit the peak of your fertility when you were, like, sixteen, or possibly even younger, when you still had those braces that ultimately didn’t even make much of made a difference. You thought it was cool to get the bands in holiday themed colors. YOU WERE MOST FERTILE THEN. And now look at you! Scrambling around, trying to find yourself or something, as time runs inexorably out. The clock is ticking, woman! Don’t think the clock isn’t ticking, just because you’re covering your ears.”
People ask me, “So are you guys thinking about kids?”
That’s what happens when you get married. Even in New York City, the land of not-having-to-think-about-kids-until-you’re-30.
“I think I’ll have a baby when I’m thirty, man or not,” said one of my friends at a group event.
“What?” the other twenty-something women cried. “Thirty? That’s too young! How about thirty-five?”
The land of not-having-to-think-about-kids-until-you’re-35.
The thing is– I want to have a baby. Sometimes I want to have one RIGHT NOW. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that. Especially since people from NYC read this blog.
Sometimes I see a baby and I get that melty feeling that women get when they fit scientifically supported stereotypes. It’s like my uterus is talking to me. It’s sort of sly and purring. “Come on…you know you want one…you could have one…”
And then I go home and stare at the wreckage of the book I’m trying to write, and I feel slightly panicky. And then my brain turns to steel and snaps at my uterus to please be quiet until you have something worthwhile to say. I have things to do. Lots of things. I have to make something of myself.
In the world I live in “making something of yourself” means your career. In my mom’s world, it means your family. And my mom is the most obvious and powerful example of motherhood I have. This is all very confusing.
I do embarrassing things as a result. At Bear’s office holiday party (which I was much better at this time), one of his co-workers asked me if we wanted to have kids.
“Yup!” I said, elegantly sipping a Cosmo (I always forget the names of all other drinks when the bartender asks what I want), and balancing on my tall heels without even swaying.
“How many?” she asked.
“Four!” I said.
Bear overheard. “Four?” he said. “That’s a lot! Did we agree on that?”
“Yes,” I said. “We agreed.” I couldn’t remember if we had.
His coworker laughed.
Later, Bear said, “So, four kids…And when are we getting started? Now?”
“OK!” I said. I thought about it for a second. “Or, in like, two years. That should give me enough time.”
Oh god, I thought. Two years? That’s not enough time! I have to make something of myself! I’ll probably need more time! Do I really want to have four kids? That’s really a lot. Where will I put them? What if they have weird personalities? What if they’re not nerdy? Oh god. They might not be nerdy. Then what? Maybe we shouldn’t have kids. We’d get to go out to eat a lot more if we didn’t. Not that we even go out to eat so much. But we should, because there are so many good restaurants on in the Village, and we’re so close to the Village now. Why aren’t we doing that more now? While there’s still time?
That damn clock.
I sit down for coffee with a famous woman writer. “So,” I say, “You have kids. How does that work out, with you being a writer?”
She smiles. She tells me she thinks writing is a great career for a mom. She says she didn’t get a whole lot done when her kids were really little, but that there was plenty of time later. There is plenty of time, in life.
Plenty of time in life, I repeat to myself. Plenty of time in life.
Sometimes I forget this. OK, I forget it every single day. I think I have to figure everything out right now. I think I have to understand everything, plan it, make sure it makes perfect sense. When really, it’s always going to be messy.
I’m not ready to have a baby right now, as much as my uterus wishes I was. Maybe I’ll be ready really soon. I can’t predict myself. But why do I think I should be able to? It’s not like I even know myself that well– I’ve only been alive for twenty-five years, and I’ve only been fertile for, like, fourteen of those. Shit. Fourteen years. My eggs are dying. MY EGGS ARE DYING. TIME IS RUNNING OUT.
God, it is so uncool to think about this stuff.
I hope I don’t see any babies when I go out later.
I kinda hope I do.
* * *
Women with babies– how are you doing? Women without them– do you think about them a lot? Or are they not on the radar right now? If you’re a teenager reading this blog–This post DOES NOT intend to convince you that you should have babies now, just because you happen to be really fertile. I’m getting a little tired of writing that word, actually– it sounds like I’m talking about a field or something :-)
Unroast: Today I love the crease where my forearm meets my upper arm. What is the other side of your elbow even called?