On my list of daily activities, which includes checking Facebook before I get out of bed and frowning at the morning news while I eat breakfast, is checking out what kind of awesomeness I will find on Jezabel.com. When the work day is slow, I am checking that website every few hours in the hope a new, interesting article greats me. If the morning news was more like Jezebel and The Daily Show, I wouldn’t be frowning while I chow down on my granola and yogurt.
I happened across an article just now titled ‘Are You Ambivalent about Pregnancy? Join the Club.‘ Without even reading the article, I already have a ton to say about this. My answer, a resounding yes, has shifted throughout my short 23 years, but I think ambivalence is where my feelings towards bearing my own children will remain. Here’s a little history:
10-14 Years Old:
I was in Catholic school and had very low self-esteem. It was my impression that everyone in the world hated me. This is no joke. I literally thought that my friends were only nice to me out of pity, that my bullies were only giving me what I deserved and that my family only loved me out of obligation. It’s no surprise that I thought I would never find love. I prepared myself for an independent life on my own. Even at this young age, I focused on college as my ticket out of this living hell. The ‘graduating’ eighth grade class has a special section in the year book where they asked us what our job would be in 10 years, if we would be married and how many kids we would have. I was the only one who said I would be unmarried with no kids.
15-18 Years Old:
Public high school was my first chance to redefine myself and I faced the challenge head on. It was in those four years that I developed an anger towards my fears to the point where I felt compelled to do everything that caused me fear. I entered individual speech contests and solo vocal contest, taking pride in the simple fact I had the courage to stand up and be judged. I actually went on to state multiple times through those contests. The greatest life events that elevated my self-esteem came in the form of two horrible relationships. I’m going to keep this short and simply say that if I had a healthy amount of self-worth, those guys would have never gotten past the first date. These relationships showed me two things: 1) I was better off being on my own than I was settling for a horrid relationship just because I was afraid of being alone and 2) that it was possible for a man to like me, even if they only liked me for my body.
During this time, I entertained the idea of what it would be like to literally have life growing inside me. Marriage still seemed like a distant dream, but as I watched my friends (who I actually thought of as genuine friends at this point) develop healthy relationships, I began to imagine what my ideal relationship would entail. I decided I would ideally like to have two children in the unlikely event someone loved me enough to propose marriage to me.
19-22 Years Old:
My wait was finally over and I left for college without a second thought. Honestly, I thought little of relationships because all I cared about was graduating in four years, studying abroad, learning how to fence and speaking Japanese (all of which happened). I was at peace with myself and perfectly happy with my productive bachelorette life. It was ignorant of me to assume life would be easily predictable from that point on given it had thrown me curve balls for 19 years. A man entered my life with whom I fell in love. He was different from me in just the right ways and similar where it counted. The fact that I wanted to leave the country for a semester didn’t phase him and he happily supported me as I traveled to Northern Ireland and continued to pursue all my other college goals. While I had found love, something I never thought I would have, my views on having a family where changing. I saw more of the world in those four years than I had ever before. There exists so much to see and do that a simple life raising a family seemed lacking. I am aware that children offer their own excitement and reward, but I realized that having a family was not the only path open to me.
Ambivalence is where I have landed in terms of raising a family. If my boyfriend (who I do hope to marry some day) wants to have children, I am more than open to the idea. If the decision were entirely up to me, I probably wouldn’t have children just because I’m happy the way things are. Children are expensive, though. I have read articles that claim labor and birth in a hospital can cost upwards of 30,000 dollars and that some places are advertising loans for preschool. Unless my husband and I are making some seriously outrageous cash, I can kiss my dreams of world travel goodbye. I’m not convinced that children are worth having unless you really want to have them. This is where I have landed and I think it is where I will stay. If my husband really wants children, I will happily take up that life adventure and love them all to death. If not, I will happily enjoy the adventure of love, life and travel with my husband. I would honestly be perfectly happy in any situation.
Now, if only I could hold my ambivalent stance on bearing children in peace. I’ve been told to “have at least one” or I will increase my chances of breast cancer. Personally, I feel like ‘I don’t want cancer‘ is a bad reason to have a child. According to WebMD, women who have children before the age of 20 cut their chances of breast cancer in half, but I’ve already missed that opportunity. I guess I just don’t feel the urgency. Living close to the city increases my chances of cancer, too, but that doesn’t mean I’m running to a rural town. I’ll take my chances and live life how I want. Either way, it’s going to end in death. I may as well live it up in the mean time.
…and with that, I’m off to read about ambivalence to pregnancy.
UPDATE: While the title of the Jezebel article inspired this post, the article itself is about a slightly different subject than I assumed.