Saturday, August 12, 2006

Surprise, surprise.....

Today I overcame what I generally refer to as "baby shower anxiety." Normally when I'm expected to attend baby showers, a great tension spreads throughout my body, I feel a little sick, and I find it incredibly difficult to get ready more than 10 minutes before I'm expected to leave my house (procrastination turned up to eleven). I can't really explain the phenomenon as I also generally have a good time once I arrive, but it's the thought of attending that turns me into a convulsive mess.

Perhaps it has to do with my uncomfortable relationship with babies and babying.

As a product of rural Texas culture, one is expected to baby early. I know a number of people who married shortly out of high school and started having children. I, at 25, am the last of my friends to marry and one of two who don't have children. My mother had me 25 years ago--at the age of 25.*

Last Christmas I had lunch with my dad's side of the family (I see them once a year), and the news that I had a boyfriend spread like wildfire. Wildfire I tell you. The next question out of my grandmother's mouth (sweet lady, but oh GOD) was, "So, when are you planning to start a family?"

*deer in headlights*

Despite the fact that I grew up in a fabulous family, I have issues picturing myself with a family of my own at this point in life. First, I don't have a significant other. Second, even if I did I probably wouldn't want to start making family plans just yet. *Probably* being one of the other reasons I'm uncomfortable with the baby'ness.

A few years ago, when I was in committed relationship, I had a pregnancy scare. For those of you who hang around here on a regular basis, you may have noticed that Dr. Claw comes like clockwork (OK, you probably haven't noticed, because that would be creepy, but it does). I was almost 2 weeks late, and the anxiety and realization that I could be pregnant kicked in. HWSNBN made a point of pointing out that such might be the case, which really threw me into an anxiety fit. I told myself I was being silly--no way was I preggers--and waited. And waited. When I had begun to really mentally talk myself into a frenzy I bought a test and agonized over whether or not to really take it. I did. It was negative.

I was crushed.

I couldn't believe I was crushed to NOT be pregnant. At first I thought I was crazy, and then I just realized that I had begun to picture the scenario with someone I loved and planned to stay with--I wanted the scenario. I wanted him, he wanted me, and we planned to have a baby someday. I don't think I ever even told him I took the test.

I suppose the resultant baby shower anxiety since then stems from that moment of want and the realization that I'm back at square one. While it would've been an inopportune time for a child back then--I hadn't started my MA, I was unhappy in many ways--I found that place where you desire to make a life with someone, and it really surprised me.

My general response in marriage/baby conversations is, "I'm not sure." I don't know that I want to get married, I don't think I'd be terribly crushed if I didn't. I usually say that I don't know if I want kids--if I do at some point, and I'm still single, I have no qualms about adoption. But, I guess the reason that p-scare shook me so much is because I did want it. And somewhere under this desire for a PhD and an independent life, I still do--in theory. If and when it's right, with whomever surprises me.

Today's shower was good. I adore the friend we were showering, and I think she's one of the bravest, most amazing people I know. She'll be an amazing mom.

Incidentally, when I recently asked my mother if she thought I'd ever get married and have kids, her response was simply,

"After you're 30."

Right on, Mom.

*For those of you who married and kidded early, I'm not baggin'. It just wouldn't have worked out for me given that I had no idea what I wanted in my late teens and earlier 20's. Not to mention, the cultural atmosphere here puts undue pressure on young'uns to grow up and procreate.

Listening: "Crazy"...Gnarls Barkley


  1. My mom and I talked about this yesterday, how I'm going to turn into a brown-bagger before I even get married and have kids. I told her I want to get married only when I absolutely have to because I love someone enough. She was confused though when I said I wasn't sure I wanted kids.

    Andi, at 25, belieeeeeve me, the worst of it is yet to come. As you approach 30, you start to wonder whether you really do want it all, or whether you want it 'cause you're posta.

    You're a woman getting a wikked fine edumucation. A baby would throw a wrench into the machinations of your budding intellectuality.


    Would you name the baby after me?

  2. I can't believe I've become one of those people who solemly say "as you approach 30." I can't believe I'm approaching 30. Fuck me.

  3. Generally speaking, I kind of get beaten down by the babyness--to use your newly coined word--on a regular basis. Currently, breeding is just not really my thing. I'm still holding out that maybe one day perhaps I'll feel differently.

    And admittedly, I was pretty anxious about hosting the shower today as I just don't tend to run around in baby/mom circles.

    However, it was a pretty good time. She cleaned up, she's excited, she's ecstatic, she had fun, and she'll be a really good mom--which is all that really matters.

  4. Andi, there is nothing bizarre about the questions you are asking yourself. All adults do. Women especially. But the thing you need to truly figure out, is if you really want children. Don't do it because you feel you have to please your family. Don't do it feeling ify about really wanting to do it. Only do it if you are 100% committed to it, because that's what it takes. Even when your children grow up and become adults, you are still their mother. It never ends.

    As for marriage...meh. In this day and age, you don't have to be married. There's lawyers to draw up wills and co-habitation contracts, especially if you're buying things together. This is another one of those things you need to be 100% committed to. You can't go into it thinking if it doesn't work out you'll just get a divorce.

    But, look who I'm saying this to. You are, without a doubt, one of the smartest young people I know. And I'm not just talking book smarts here, kiddo. I'm also talking life smarts. You are a well rounded individual, a strong person, and you are going to make some man kiss the ground you walk on because he is so lucky that you are in his life.

    Granma has spoken! ;)

  5. Come live in Ireland :) sure we have plenty of young mothers, but the majority of people I went to school with are still unmarried and un-babied. And nothing is thought of it.

  6. It's just the fact that you're getting older. Someday you may find yourself DYING to have children like me. Then again, I always knew I wanted at least one.
    You have too much going on to settle for something else. Do what ya gotta do. You'll know when you're ready.

  7. I'm waiting for you to come here and marry me.

    Still waiting.

  8. i'm 30 and i'm still not ready. i like babies, but damn, motherhood is the hardest job in the world. i'm not yet ready for the pressure.

  9. ok, let the post-childbearing person in on this conversation. Me thinks you protest too much. I am not trying to be a smartass, but it has been my experience that when women talk about not wanting babies, it is because they do. However, I find that sometimes women today really want to be the independent, smart, tough, go-getter because dang it, women worked pretty damn hard to get to where they are. Today, smart women know that there options out there and may even feel that they have to explore them- but there seems to be a disconnect of some kind. I know as a feminist, I have found myself talking out of two sides of my mouth. Go for the career, be aggressive and go for the big kahuna, and don't let anything stand in your way. At the same time, I admit that if my marriage were to ever be in trouble, I would probably chunk it all-grad school, PhD, and career to save it. I find that I preach to women to put off marriage and family only to go running at the speed of light when my own children and grandchildren need me. My point is that women ( I acknowledge not all women and that is fine) have the baby problem. Mother Nature wants to have her way and that is to make babies. We live in a technological world with prehistoric bodies. No matter what we want in life, we have the baby thing nagging at us. Women are not only under pressure from Mother Nature, but also society. You have women such as Phyllis Schafley (spelling?) who think that having a baby is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing that a woman will ever do. Really, finding the cure to cancer and world peace is not as important as having a baby? Ok, this is going to sound mean and I don't mean to trivialize children ( I have a wonderful husband of 30 years, four good kids, and three beautiful spoiled granddaughters), but guess what? babies are overrated and having them is not a miracle or gift from God believe me! ANYONE can have a baby, it is purely biological! you have sex=baby, that's it.

    You have movie stars who have put off having children until they are in their 40s and have made millions of dollars saying "Oh, this is so rewarding, I should have done this sooner, it is better than my career"-hummmm. I wonder if they would say that if they had the babies first and were poor. It seems that women feel guilty or less of a woman if they don't have babies, especially in light of the options as a result of feminism. I also think that women feel like they are selling out if they choose the mommy track instead of the career.

    There is also the rhetoric of "you don't know what you are missing, and you are not a mature adult until you are in a commited relationship and raise a family." Maybe so, but it seems to me that I missed out on not being a billionaire, or born excruciatingly beautiful, or both, but I am certainly not going to go around worring about it or fill my precious life with regret. I guess having all those babies really fulfilled me haha.

    I guess what I am trying to say, and believe me I can say alot more on this subject, is that women should not feel guilty if they want the career, or the family, or don't want the family, or both. I had the family first and now I am working on the career and for me one has not been more rewarding than the other-they are just paths I have walked and walking. So if you want the baby, have the baby. If you don't want the baby, then don't have the baby. I know this sounds ridicously reductionist- nothing is as black and white as this right? Nope. This is a verbose way of saying that women don't have to feel guilty about their choices. It seems to me that life is full of would of, could of, and should ofs and this is just one of many.

    ok, I will shut up now

  10. Non, glad to know the worst is yet to come. Eek! I'll be 26 in a few months, so I'll be sliding down the slippery slope to 30. Although, I have to admit, the big 3-0 doesn't bother me. I'll be nearer my sexual peak, and that's gotta be worth somethin'. And I would totally name the baby after you. D-Lou. ;)

  11. Elise, you did a great job on the shower. You would think you run in shower circles all the time! I'm glad she's happy and excited. That's exactly what's important.

    Vixen, you are both wise and hilarious. I think I come from the Oprah school of relationships: marriage on the outskirts of importance. Companionship is good even without the legal union. Less mess.

    Fence, Ireland sounds more and more heavenly all the time! I'm on my way!

    Thanks, Kat. I didn't know you were dying for kiddos at this point. I hope you find someone equal to the task. You're quite a catch, my dear. If I was a man, I'd be all over you.

    Todd, I can be there by sunrise.

    LE, totally agree that motherhood is wicked hard. I respect all the mamas out there. Including my own (having to put up with me).

  12. Fem, totally agree that women shouldn't feel guilty. And I don't think I've ever felt any guilt either way, but I was truly surprised that mother nature kicked in to the extent it did and my loins burned when I WASN'T. That shocked the shit out of me. Does it make me wanna throw aside the PhD--helllll no. Women should do what they want. Amen!

  13. Incidentally, my biggest goal in life at this point is to bed Hugh Laurie. With no children as a result. Rawwr!

  14. Have fun this week.

    I'm bringing The Book of Illusions to the beach with me. You should start reading it too.

    I'll call you when I get back. I'm sure I'll be ready to play.

  15. Many academics don't have children to after 30, due to the demands of scholarship. By constantly asking you when you're going to start a family, others may actually be voicing disapproval of your life choice--as if you've gotten a little bit too big for your britches--hence, the anxiety.

    As for my prior relationships, my sweethearts and I quickly began to see Dr. Claw as a dear old friend.

  16. LOL, X. Laughing at the Dr. Claw comment. It certainly is a good thing.

    And you're right about academics. Most of the people who ask me that don't realize that I am in fact too big for my britches though. They think I "just teach." Not to diminish the importance of teaching, but they really haven't a clue about the demands of scholarship.


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