This is so incredibly awkward.
I just typed a sentence and backspaced it. Typed it again. Backspaced. Now you know I’m on a PC. What is with the Mac not having a backspace key? Does anyone know why they decided not to? I think it’s a design flaw. I don’t find the design “intuitive.” Someone told me it was more intuitive. Is that code for “women are supposed to like it”?
OK, OK. I’m stalling. I’ll just do this:
I want to have a baby.
Is there a way to make that sound less…like I want to have a baby?
I am thinking about wanting to have a baby.
I have written about this before. But I feel it is my duty to report that the condition is worsening.
I had a terrible scare recently. I thought for a second that maybe, somehow, I was pregnant. I had managed to mess up my birth control and simultaneously gain like ten pounds. I took a pregnancy test. And for a horrible, shocking moment, I wished that it would be positive.
It turns out I am just gaining weight from all the cake I’ve been eating.
I want to have a baby, but I don’t want to want to have a baby. Instead, I want to not want to have a baby while I want to have a fabulous career. And then, after I have this fabulous career that I am hoping to have and am possibly beginning to have, I can want to have a baby. That would be better.
It’s confusing. I don’t know where this wanting came from. It might be from Mother Nature, or something. She’s like, Hey! I see you, girl! Yeah, you! In between the Brooklyn and the Manhattan bridges. With that crappy Dell laptop. Are you seriously still on that thing, with the broken touchpad and the sticky “a” key? Still no Mac? OK, whatever. But seriously, things are gonna get real around here. I gave you a uterus and ovaries and stuff. You don’t know anything about them, but don’t think that means you’re not a fertile, life-bearing goddess of creation. Cuz you are. A LIFE-BEARING GODDESS, do you hear me? So take that Nuva ring out RIGHT THIS SECOND and get yourself pregnant. I’m not kidding. Do it. Do I LOOK like I’m messing with you?
She is tough, that Mother Nature.
I can’t have a baby. And not just because of the Nuva ring, though that is definitely the first obstacle.
I can’t have a baby because I’m way too scared.
I’m way too unfinished. I am just starting out.
God, there are so many great reasons why I can’t have a baby. There’s this one about glass coffee tables. What if I get one, sometime soon? That would be elegant and grown up. And also fragile and potentially sharp. I can’t have a baby and a glass coffee table, and I haven’t even been a grownup long enough to get a glass coffee table. So clearly, I’m not ready for a baby.
I did everything the way I thought I was supposed to. I got so many damn A’s in college. I got a bunch more in grad school. I networked. I befriended mentor-types. I got a lot of internships that were absurdly competitive and involved three call-backs before I got to not get paid. But I also always had a job, from the time I was 15. And then I decided to follow my incredibly unoriginal, but obnoxiously persistent goal of being a writer. So I started doing that, every day.
I put so much of myself into my writing that sometimes I felt like I was worthless when I didn’t make progress. Sometimes I felt like I was going to be a huge success, and I was trembling in anticipation. Sometimes I thought I might fall apart. Sometimes I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything. Sometimes I felt like I was touching people’s lives.
All the time, I felt like my writing was the most important thing.
I don’t know why, but I don’t have a nuanced understanding of motherhood. In my mind, it’s this bridge that you walk across, and on the other side is a strange, unexplored land that no one can ever prepare you for or accurately describe to you. You walk across, clutching a stack of books with titles like “Attachment Style Parenting for the Uptight” and “Learning From Your Baby: Love, Life, and Laughter (and Babies)” and “Are French Babies Actually Better in Every Way? The answer to that question and lots of info on how you can act more French” and maybe a bunch of tiny outfits and some diapers. And you never come back.
You can’t cross the bridge in the other direction. It breaks apart, like in LOTR, when they’re in the mines of Moria and the Balrog is about to make a cameo, and the whole infrastructure is falling apart. Except in a good way.
Because on the other side is something miraculous. And poopy. But miraculous. And everything changes forever.
The thing is, this dream is all I really know. And I am terrified of letting myself down.
And, in this disgustingly meta way, I am also terrified of not caring anymore about letting myself down. What if, on the other side, I don’t want to come back here? What if somehow I forget what I’m supposed to do? What if I forget all of those A’s and all of that work and all of the times I pushed and pushed myself to stand out? What if it’s better?
Sometimes I wish brains couldn’t do meta.
Really, I don’t know anything about motherhood. And possibly life, as well. I don’t know why I think that having a baby means giving up on my career. I’m not sure why they are these two totally separate paths in my mind.
But I do know that here, in this city, at this age, having a baby is not the thing to do. It is probably the last thing to do.
When I got married, so young, I was already being weird. I wasn’t planning on doing that for a long time. And then I met Bear and suddenly changed my mind. On our fourth date, on a plane to Utah, we talked about kids, joking around. He said I had “child-bearing hips,” as a joke. But I was sort of flattered.
I should have known then that there would be a problem. There’s a problem. It’s that flagrantly clichéd clash between body and college degree. That overplayed disagreement between ambition and dirty, sexy biology.
It is a problem because my generation is bursting with young women who are taking over cities, out-earning their male counterparts, flinging themselves at their highest goals.
It is a problem because I never imagined being a mom. That was never one of my fantasies. So my daydreams are confused.
It is a problem because somehow motherhood and success are these distinct things, in a society that is always trying to pretend it values everything equally and at the same time has to keep publishing op-eds about whether or not the sexual revolution was a good idea.
It is a problem because I am the modern woman, but I am afraid of letting her down.
And I’m not even pregnant. I’ve just been eating a bunch of cake.
I’m just thinking about wanting to want to have a baby. That’s all.
It’s Mother Nature’s fault. She ambushed me. I was just sitting here, typing on this perfectly functional laptop, writing a book about a powerful girl who will change the world.
(she doesn’t look like Mother Nature, but I like her.)
(the pics are from my Google search “mother earth”)
* * *
I may have asked you this before, and I may ask you it again, but what do you think about babies? Anyone conflicted? Anyone totally sure? Anyone want to write that book about French babies? I think it’ll sell.
Unroast: Today I love the way I look when my hair resembles a mane. Which makes me a lion, I guess, not a lioness. But whatever! Bend that gender! Or something.
Other stuff I’m doing now, other than thinking about babies: An article in Psychology Today, about eating disorders and political correctness. A feature piece about what I learned about beauty in my 20′s, for HuffPost.
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