Saturday, December 11, 2010


No, I'm not trying to scare you all. I'm not pregnant. Nor did I immaculately conceive. But by nature of being around children constantly--whether teaching them English at school, or keeping watch over them after school--I find the question of motherhood almost impossible to ignore. This does not mean to say I want kids anytime soon--far from it. Rather, this is about a young woman questioning the possibility of being a mom, a question that she finds intimately tied to the sheer fact of being female, of adult life as a woman, and questions of spouse, career, and whatever may lie on the horizon.

My first taste, so to speak, of motherhood arrived when my sister was born. I was 12. Parents, if you have children on the verge of adolescence, I swear to you all that the best damn birth control ever is to have another kiddo around this time period. The cute little thing waddled in baby clothes known as my sister really proved herself to be nothing more than a human warning siren. When out in public with her, I would get dirty stares from elderly women who thought my sister was my kid. Then and there, I found out that a) changing diapers can really blow and b) there was no way in hell I wanted a kid.

Nevertheless, I know plenty of people my age (or younger) already married with kids, and while I admire them, I know it's not something I could handle at this moment. I'm using my 20's to learn how to take care of me first, and hopefully to see the world, to do the selfish things I want to do before I possibly settle down. I say this because being a parent is a truly selfless endeavor, and the more I question and think about the possibility of being one, the more crucial I believe it is to ' live the dream' now. This doesn't mean to imply that you can't live the dream if you have kids, more that the 'dream' changes, morphs to fit in a family.

Likewise, this summer I found myself questioning the possibility of motherhood. Of marriage, even. I was at a barbecque with longtime friends from high school, and we got to talking with a married couple with young children. It was one of those rare moments where I felt like I could gleam some perspective of "if my 40's self was talking to my 20's self, this is what 40's self would tell 20's self." I spoke a lot about how I've even begun to question if getting married is for me, how it might be easier in some ways to flout conventionality and neither marry nor have kids. Don't get me wrong: I am not some bra burning, hippy, radical feminist. I don't think men are evil. While I stand for equality between the sexes, I do not think it productive to go on a tirade about how men have "oppressed" women for thousands and thousands of years. It's not because of that that I question marriage and kids. I question it on a personal level, because let's be honest: marriage and kids are not for everyone. It's because of that that I wonder if kids are for me, and on the converse, if I'd make a good mom.

Apparently, there are some who think I would be. One of my best friends said to me this summer when we got dinner that "I'd make a good mom," and given the duration of time that I've known him, this is a difficult opinion to ignore. This morning at the breakfast table, host dad told me Martin's birthday surprise has been rescheduled for tomorrow, to which I said "Ok, looks like Martin will need to do his homework today then!" to which host dad explained "Ha. You'd be a good mom!" I then explained that I have no desire to be one right now. I didn't add the parenthetical "if at all" clause at the end.

I mentioned in a post earlier this year that being an au pair is like being in bootcamp for motherhood, and I've never found this to be more true. If I do decide that kids are my thing, let me tell you, I will be beyond prepared. And everyone has told me it's different when its your own kids versus someone else's. I'll take their word for that for now.

Am I crazy for questioning motherhood at the age of nearly 23? I probably am. But it's my hyperactive brain at work questioning where my life is going to go, what forks in the road I'll end up taking, who I meet, and how much ambivalence--the dance between the "yes" and "maybe" and "NO"--I can appease.

For now, I'll focus on my 17th century literature, Paris, and visits from friends. After all, what more is an almost 23 year old supposed to do?

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