I am the youngest of all of my siblings by a whopping nine years, minimum. I won’t get into the many, many facets of my family for the sake of simplicity, but at the end of the day I technically have four half and two step siblings. Two of them I grew up with my entire life, two I just recently reconnected with after 15 years, and my stepbrothers came into the picture about ten years ago.
What I’m getting at is that since they’re all so much older, practically all of them are having babies. The total head count is eight nieces and nephews so far, but the ones I spend the most time with are my brother’s three children.
His daughter is well into being a teenager, conveniently making me feel ridiculously old and grappling with the concept of time. His two sons are just over two and just under one-year old. They are the first babies/toddlers/what have you I’ve ever spent a considerable amount of time with and well, it’s freaking me out.
Up until two years ago I was confidently dead-set in my aversions to parenthood. The idea of being pregnant completely freaked me out (still does, I’ll get to that). I had no interest in being responsible for the life of another human and to top it all off, I never pictured myself being in a stable situation where it would be possible even if I did want to.
Then my brother’s first son was born and the first time I held him I cried and sufficiently scared the you-know-what out of myself. Two years later, he has a little brother and every time I see them my heart fills up. Playing and talking with them is so much fun and while, of course, there are moments of absolute terror and toddler meltdowns, overall, I find myself being baby-crazed when I leave them.
I end up ranting to friends about my “ticking clock” and what a mess it is because I’m pretty sure I want to be a mom one day and that is definitely a new feeling for me. And then I try to do the thing where I rationalize my way out of it. Women are constantly pressured to succumb to motherhood and blah-blah-blah. I’m just feeling the weight of a society that wants me to be barefoot and pregnant, etc. I’ve taken the women’s studies classes, I know the arguments on both sides.
I know all the reasons why I wouldn’t want to have kids. One, it’s a lot of work. I see that clear as day when I look at my siblings. It’s easy to romanticize this idea of having a little baby to play with, but if I’m good at anything, it’s picturing worse-case scenarios and finding the not-so-silver lining to most situations. I’m a relatively selfish person and I know that would have to fly out the window if I wanted to be a good mom.
Two, politically and environmentally, I don’t know how I feel about being pregnant and bringing a child into this world. I would never hold that to someone else who chooses to have a child of course. If I did, all of my siblings would probably end up hating me. Besides, I absolutely get why people want to have their own children.
The question now is, what the heck do I do? I’m not at the point where I’m grazing through endless Pinterest pages of baby clothes and toys. I’m still trying to get my very haphazard life together. I’m finally entering some sort of financial stability and after a few more shifts I think I’ll get to a point of being pretty comfortable.
So, I’ve resolved to a few basic fundamental rules for myself if I’m going feel all these gushy feelings toward babies. I will never have a planned pregnancy. I am a self-proclaimed hypochondriac and there’s no way I could handle the stress of you know, letting my body do what it was made to do like, a zillion years ago. I don’t trust myself enough.
I also don’t trust this world and the policies and medical institutions surrounding pregnant women. One Ricki Lake documentary is enough to keep me out of a maternity ward for the rest of my life. I’ll happily adopt a child if I ever truly feel that I’m ready.
The thing I find funny is that I talk to so many people my age and some of my girl friends say the exact opposite — they just want to be pregnant and not deal with the lifetime of responsibility that comes afterward. The truth is, I really look forward to having a kid I can do cool stuff with. That’s probably pretty selfish, but I want to be the mom who instilled the importance of Michael Jackson into her child’s brain. And other cool stuff like how to treat animals and people and the planet nicely.
I guess at the end of the day I just feel like I’d be pretty good at it all. So who knows what will happen — either way it’s pretty far off. I’ve got my nephews to play and make jokes with and that’s enough for now.
Marena Mitchell is a young artist and leisurely writer living in New Paltz. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz with an MFA in printmaking in 2013. You can find her other writings in her zines, on her blog marenasrants.tumblr.com.