Friday, April 16, 2010


I'm 28 years old. 28. That's 30 minus 2. Well...30 minus 1 year and 5 months to be exact.

In July I will have been married to the same man for nearly 7 years. From the first month of our marriage at the all too young ages of 21 and 23 we were assaulted with the question, "when are you having a baby?" For six years, 9 months, and 11 days, I have cringed at that question.

Last year, when this topic became valid enough in our lives to begin talking about talking about starting a family, (by the way, I dislike this euphemism. Isn't that we did in 2003 when we decided to get married? Isn't that we did in 2004 when we adopted Marble our first puppy, and again in 2004 when Harley, our second Aussie, came home? Isn't that what I do every time I am with my friends who love and support me and who in turn I love and support?), last year, when I was at the end of my 27th year and Phil turned 30, it was "time" for the talk. My fear, I expressed, was that I never wanted to feel like a baby is what I needed to make me happy or to complete me.

I'm not trying to cast judgment or criticize women who truly and honestly feel that they are called to be mothers first and foremost. I am often envious of these women who live with such certainty. How many times have I looked deeply within myself to see if I had what it took to be a mother. Do I have the generosity, the patience, the kindness, the wisdom, the courage? What I'm saying is, although I've never doubted that I would be a mother someday, I do not ever want one role in my life to define who I am. And, let's face it, I've seen it happen more often than not that a woman with children comes to a point in her life when her children are adults and she's left with a void. What then? When her children are grown, who is she? A grand-mother in waiting?

And then there are the children I see everyday. The 16 and 17 year olds whose closest definition of family they have is the one we create in my classroom. The children whose parents, for whatever reason or combination of circumstances, can't or won't parent. When I bring them home with me in my heart every night what room do I have left to preserve myself and another person? I watch 16 year old girls become mothers; most of them have mothers who had them at the same age. You can't tell me that age doesn't matter. And you can't tell me that 28 is getting "up there."

American women in the 21st century are already placing enormous expectations on themselves to be innovative, sexy, intelligent, successful, clever, popular, warm, generous, assertive, competitive, funny, etc. I must be the consummate housekeeper, cook, dog-walker, teacher, student, friend, sister, aunt, daughter, wife, philosopher, reader, writer, advocate, WOMAN. Fulfilling these statutes that I set for myself is all-consuming. We are inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on ourselves when we set ourselves up to be Superwoman and then chastise ourselves for falling short by a centimeter.

When we do fall short, when one shoe drops and then another, our "happiness" drops, too. And what's worst of all, our self-worth plummets. I'm speaking from experience here. After a few years of a regimented house cleaning routine every Saturday of every month that ate away 6-7 hours of my weekend, one day I sat down and cried out my frustration and exhaustion. I told myself that twice a month would suffice, and the week in between cleaning would be full of fur-bunnies hidden in corners and trails of cat litter peeking out of the utility room. So what?

This is one reason I am not a mother in the technical sense of the word, not yet. I am still plagued by the self-inflicted inflated expectations I long ago chiseled for myself. If I were to have a child and then fall short of my own ideal, not only would I be disappointed, but so would another human being much closer than anyone else ever could be.

I've made the mistake of thinking that one path will constitute utter and complete happiness, only to discover several years later that no one path can do such a thing. A baby will not make me happy.

What am I waiting for then? To experience the moment when I can say, unequivocally, that come what may....I will still be me. I'm waiting for those ghosts to stop rattling their bones in my metaphorical closet. I'm waiting for parts of my past to fade away like the mist dissipates over warm water on the first cool Autumn morning. I'm waiting to be comfortable with stillness. I'm waiting to feel confident about my body. To feel healthy and strong and ready for the gargantuan changes that will happen to me, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

I'm closer than I've ever been before. So, in 5 months and 4 days when I turn 29 you can tease me all you want. I don't mind.

As Elizabeth Gilbert so candidly put it, "Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit."

I have tattoos, but when I got them I put them somewhere I don't have to see them all of the time. Once I have a child, I will never look any where else. This is as it should be. And so it will be, when I'm done waiting.


  1. If you wait until you're ready...? You say you want to "feel healthy and strong and ready for the gargantuan changes that will happen to me, physically, spiritually, and emotionally." I think you and Phil are as ready as you will ever be in this respect. I think it just boils down to what you really want in life.
    What you have to be ready for is the sacrafice. Are you ready to sacrafice yourself for someone else? It's not like the sacrafices you make for your spouse. You have to be willing to give up everything! Thats the hard part. You may not have to give up everything but you might. Career, friends, being able to just go somewhere whenever you want.
    Love is a choice. I think the question is are you ready to make that choice and be willing to sacrafice all you have and all you have worked for for someone else. I'm sure these are things you have considered but this is a blog of ramblings right? I've known you and Phil for some time now and love you both, I think you are ready "physically, spiritually, and emotionally." Are you ready mentally? I can tell you, having, and raising a child has been the most rewarding, and chalenging experience I have ever had and I definitely wasn't ready for it. I did choose to to have her though. Don't let people rush you, don't rush yourself, maybe you're not finished with some things you would like to do before you make this kind of committment and sacrafice. You need to be ready mentally. Ramblings of a friend

  2. Thanks for your comments, Lynn. Honestly, I feel that I've spent most of my adolescent and adult life making sacrifices for other people. I tend to be a self-sacrificing type of person, believe it or not.
    And I know how lucky I am that I have a man who stops me from getting sucked into that habit to the point of self-detriment and truly respects who I am. Otherwise, I could have never published that blog :-)

  3. I believe it. You wouldn't have dedicated your life to teaching if you were not a self sacraficing person. I know you understand the committment of having children. All sacrafices are relative, most times we choose when and where we sacrafice our time and we can take a break from time to time.Obviously we can't do that with someone whose whole existince depends on us. Maybe thats why you hesitate. It's like a tattoo.
    Maybe you could take a little pressure off youself trying to be Superwoman! Who put that expectation on you? I don't think you will ever have to worry about anyone defining you as a mother only.
    I belve you are right, there is no one thing that defines who we are or makes us happy. Define happy anyway,but you know the feeling that comes over you when you hold a new born baby. I saw it on your face in the pictures of you holding your sister's newborn. Of course it's more work than anything else, but you've proven you can handle that.
    I know it is a cliche, but maybe you should "just let nature take its course." I'm not sure where you stand on this from a spiritual standpoint, but I do believe that children are a gift from God and a blessing. You said it, a family takes on many different shapes and sizes. Right now Jack and Hank are the only children I have at home.
    Who decides what our family will be? Do we decide, God, or is it just fate?