Thursday, July 02, 2009

Motherhood: The bane of thoughtful women?

In college, I never expected to get married, let alone have children.* As it happened, I got married about a year after graduating and, on my 27th birthday, became bent on having children ... IMMEDIATELY.

I am not what one would call a "kid person". That is, I harbor no special love for human beings based on their having lived a relatively short time on earth. I prefer people with an opinion on the trade deficit, an appreciation of artisan breads and the ability to sit quietly through the full duration of the most recent Coen brother movie. If you meet this criteria and are under 12. Fine. I have never once babysat and had never held an infant until Baby Y was placed in my arms.

Pre-baby I was put off by the way in which female parenthood seemed to obscure all else from a woman's identity to those around her and perhaps even to herself.

One thought (realized post-baby) is that it is partly due to the way that biological parenthood engulfs women. From the moment of conception, willingly or not, I was at my body's mercy. Pregnancy, birth, post-partum - nothing in my life has been so mammalian. So physical. So utterly devoid of intellect.

The other thought is that it is partly due to the insipid, cutsification that women cast upon the mother role. The endless pink (in moderation, a perfectly fine color) and other mild shades. The obsession with little beyond the minutia of familial life. The insistence that life as you knew it will cease to exist once children make their appearance. I was determined to avoid such a fate. (And think I have.)

And as I penned posts for this blog and talked to other women about my experience, I swung between two ideas.

The first being that this whole thing, babies + life-as-usual, was eminently doable. Piece. Of. Cake. Nevermind that I spent my first year on the verge of a nervous breakdown and year two chronically depressed. I was determined to tear on as though life had not changed a bit.

The second being that I had just erected a permanent hurdle to professional success. Competing as a childless woman was hard enough, throw in life encompassing experience of baby making = doom. Never mind that I did just fine in most of my classes and got a great internship. (Though I am currently unemployed ... hmmm)

Point being, I am very sympathetic to childless women who are not very inspired by the realities of the child making route. It's not easy. It does change you. For me, old age without grandchildren (Baby Y and X, are you listening??) was not palatable. But if it were,and I thought it might be for a long time, it would have been much easier.

Honestly yours,

*Though, paradoxically, I expected that if I did have children that I would be a stay at home parent until they went to kindergarten. Ha.


FB @ said...

I was so against kids for the longest time. But just in the past couple years or so.. something changed and now I'm dreaming about my own kids (at buffets, eating up the tables with me)... which is very unusual dream fare for me.

I think it was the idea of not having grandkids that was the final straw. A support system is very important to me, and I just have it in my gut that it'll be a great experience.

Pavementii said...

Wow. I'm applying for MBA programs now and I find your stories and experiences absolutely fascinating. You write so clearly and emphatically. I'm particularly captivated with your personality and your drive. You sound like no one else I know and it amazes me.

Is your husband of the same temperament as you? I'm glad you had your children. It sounds like it's given you a perspective that wouldn't have had otherwise. (duh.) I was going to ask whether or not b school had a lot of people like you, but your other posts and the fact that you had two(?) children during the program says clearly not.

I hope you are enjoying motherhood. I'm going to try to keep up with you.