Friday, May 6, 2011

The Mother Sect

I’ll forewarn you dear reader that I’ve been grouchy all day. I took a rerack this morning, which meant having to rush to get ready for work in twenty minutes and making a very bad choice about to what to wear. I chose my high-waisted pinstripe pants and high-heel ankle boots. Thus, while I looked pretty good—surprisingly tall and skinny for moi-- I’ve been extraordinarily uncomfortable all day due to a wedgie and pinched toes. So, there, that’s the preliminary to the following post.

I turned 32 last week and have reached, I'd say, that window period for having children. I have a stable partner, a decent job, and I'm not getting any younger. “It’s now or never.” “I just wished I’d done it sooner. “You don’t want to be pregnant at 40, trust me.” I hear this kind of thing all day long: at work, at parties, at Sunday lunches, from Spanish people, from Americans, from men at meetings in London, from old ladies at the gym. But today, today I think takes the cake, today I’ve been hounded by the mother sect on three separate occasions.

After a rather uneventful morning at work, all stuffed into my pants, I hailed a cab and headed up to Eixample to meet my friend Emma for lunch. Emma is 38, a tireless worker and mother to an eight-year-old. She's a great friend---thoughtful, bubbly, creative, and six-months pregnant. It was a long lunch, and about half of the time we talked about having children. Well Emma talked, she basically campaigned and I simply tried to play defense.

Instead of explaining the real reasons why I haven't gotten pregnant, I made excuses: I’m working a lot, I don’t have family here, etc. But Emma had a righteous answer to each and every excuse. “Everyone works; it’s just a matter of prioritizing.” “You have to make your own new extended family of friends, a network.”

But I'm quite confident that I could prioritize and I know I could form a network, I already have! There isn't a doubt in my mind that "everything would work out" or "that I'd find a way." But you see, that really isn't the issue. I don’t need a pep talk. I’m just not entirely sure that I want to have kids. Being able to handle it isn't enough, and perhaps I want other things in life.

As I hobbled from lunch to the metro, I tried not to get angry. The woman’s pregnant, she’s excited, just let her be, I thought. Anyway, I had another very important task at hand: waxing. While waiting at the waxing center, I enjoyed about 20 minutes of peace: I was off my feet and able to read the Spanish edition of In Touch magazine and a bunch of the Bin Laden coverage in the Times. Then, Cristina, my wonderful waxer called out “Scarlett!” I gave her a hug and two Spanish kisses and said, “I’m so glad to see you back! How’s your baby?”

Cristina reported that the baby is growing very quickly and muy guapa, of course, and then she looked down at my stomach, shook her head from side to side, and said, “And you when?” And then it began, half an hour of hot waxing and yet another sermon on why one should have children NOW. No waiting, no reasoning, no thinking, just do it. By the time, I got my clothes back on I felt like I’d been through a small battle and my wedgie was really bothering me. As I left, Cristina asked, "But you do want kids, don't you?" A part of me wanted to reply, "No, didn't you realize I'm a selfish bitch?" But I just nodded and said assured her, "Of course I do."

Before heading home, I decided to see if I could find some comfortable cotton pants for work. And, in one of the day’s small victories, I found a non-wedgie-giving pair fairly quickly. Just as I was coming out of the dressing room, feeling fairly content, I saw Llucia, a reporter I used to work with. I recognized her even from behind, she's got the narrowest of shoulders and this amazingly thick, shiny auburn bun.

It was only when I said her name and she turned around that I felt slightly faint. There she was Llucia Riba, the single career girl extraordinaire, pregnant. “Hey,” she said pointing proudly to her belly. “I’m just trying to find something I can wear this summer with this guy.”


  1. What a day!!! Spike and I have long discussed that people after a certain age and experience have this switch that clicks on and suddenly makes them feel the need to preach all that is "normal and right" i.e. marriage, babies, etc... I'm glad you were able to take it in stride and not let it get to you! Personally I get it constantly from my family about "when are you and Spike getting married and having babies" So much so that I don't even want to visit with anyone so I can avoid the whole topic. Why can't everyone just be happy that we're so happy? We're not lacking anything just because we're not married and of course we have plans to but until we do just let us be!

    Great post and thank you for commenting today on the great debate!!! I have been loving all the feedback and even moreso the new faces that have come out of the woodwork.

  2. ohhh i feel you pain ... im 32 as well and i respect any point of you of view of people that want to have children and people who doesnt. Im in the second group and i found very hard to explain myself why i dont want to have them, people look at me like im sicko or suffering from a mental disease and sometimes it piss me off because is nobody business wheter i have children or i dont.. I dont know if i will change my mind in the future, but if I do and is too late (biological speaking) then i adopt. And i happy with that decision, because is mine.
    But at the end of the day the decsion of having children is, from my perspective a private matter and you should take it when YOU feel ready.

    so scarlet happy bday and you will be a mother when the time is right
    buen finde

  3. *sigh* I'm 31 and I can very much empathize with this post. On the one hand, I do feel my bio clock ticking and think it might be kind of nice to have kids. On the other, I really love my life as it is: childfree. I'm not 100% sure that I want to have kids, but in the past two or three years it seems like everyone I know has become my parents. M's sister, his cousin, four of my good friends, many acquaintances, and now my sister is also expecting. People make remarks all the time about how I still "have some time but shouldn't wait too long." Blech.

  4. Brutal! Don't worry, be happy!

    Through the years, I had comments here and there, but for the most part, I made it VERY clear to anyone in my path that I did NOT want children. I think being clear and frank about it, more or less, "nipped it in the bud." I feel fortunate that I have never waffled with it, it's always been, "just me", that's that way it is, and I did not, and do not feel guilty or pressured by other's insane idea that EVERYONE should have children.

    I hope that you will find peace with others insanity, and do what is right for YOU! I would say DO NOT have children unless you develop a BURNING strong desire to do so. Parenting is HARD! Good Luck!

  5. New to your blog- saw your comment on Happy Feet's post and came over to read. It's nice to see someone expressing this view...

    I'll be 28 soon, and I'm not really sure where hubs and I stand on kids. He's still finishing up grad school...I'm in my 2nd year of working post-grad school. We like to sleep in on weekends, and our biggest responsibility is our greyhound.

    I have some friends with kids, I've babysat tons over the past 14 years (including staying with kids for a week at a time while their parents were out of town), and I work with kids (and their parents)! Maybe that's why I'm not as eager to have my own. I like kids, but I'm very aware of what having children entails, and I'm not sure I'm ready for it (or ever will be??) I'm not sure if part of it is that we are still living the student lifestyle and not really settled down, don't own a house, etc. I actually have 3 friends all expecting a baby next week (how crazy is that). I feel like everyone around me is getting pregnant and asking us if we're planning on doing the same.

    When I was younger, I always assumed I'd have kids, but now, I feel like I'm at that age and not at all ready, and sort of waiting to see if something changes regarding my desire to have kids. It's not like my work is so super important that it is in the way of me having kids...I'm just enjoying my (selfish) lifestyle of working, running whenever I want, and being able to go away for a day or a weekend when I want, etc. Sorry for my ramblings!

  6. Don't worry about it. I had kids extra young at 21 and part of me regrets not living my 20's like they are supposed to be. You will know when you are ready.

  7. I never really thought about it, because I was always busy with a lot going on. But when push came to shove, I am truly an anthropologist at heart. I believe kinship is social. This is a long discussion, but the short of it is, I like who I am, my life, my friends and my 'social family' who are my family. I guess everyone is different, but kinship is not just biology! Just follow your heart and be true to your spirit and who you are.

  8. I am 32 and going through this too. It is so frustrating! I can't say I want them now or ever but I also don't want to be raising kids later in life. But why do I need to explain myself to everyone who has kids every time I see them!?! Stay strong!

  9. Thanks to everyone for these insightful comments. I hope mothers haven't taken offense. The task of working and mothering at once just seems insurmountable to me right now, but I have nothing but respect for all you mother secters!