August 01, 2004

Babies on the brain

My uterus, the entity I blame for my occasional motherhood urges, has lately expanded its campaign to include urges for an entire homestead with pantry, garden, dog, soulmate, good neighbours and home-based business, in which to nest with my offspring. My mum offers advice such as “it is more useful to have youthful energy than money when you've got babies.” My friend notes that when she passes the girls' reformatory school and sees all the teen mums, her reaction is “I am so far behind!

I need to word this carefully. Since some of us are so itchy to have babies and are feeling kind of repressed by the need to plan our families responsibly, so as not to ruin our lives, I wonder if we are brewing a trend toward providing more resources for young parents in addition to family planning resources. I wonder whether we can make young, even teen, motherhood an O.K. choice instead of a life crisis. Girl Mom confirms that some teenagers actually want to have babies, that they are capabable of being great parents, and that mainstream society is set up to make it nearly as hard as possible for them. A recurring theme in my thoughts is that if rights are about choices, it is important that there is more than one reasonable option.

Just to shore up my careful wording, I want to be clear that I don't mean to encourage anyone in particular to choose immediate pregnancy over any other option, I don't think spawning is a game, and I don't want to back off my support for celibacy without stigma, safer sex through latex, or available contraception. It's just that I'm 24 and even at this decidedly post-teen age, I don't feel like I have enough resources at my disposal to squeeze one out without putting a serious dent in my career, social life and general personal potential. I had never thought of this situation in terms of other people's baby-hate until the “I am so far behind” comment.

My uterus is honestly the centre of all the ugliest compromises I make: menstrual products, birth control methods, and family planning. Nothing else is nearly as frustrating or soul-crushing as those big three. Comfort vs. health. Convenience vs. sustainability. Family vs. individualism. What I want and need vs. what is allowed and available.

This is only the latest subject over which I am being told “Oh, we went through all that in the 70s!”

For now I am appeasing my uterus by stocking the pantry in a big way. Yesterday, I had a canning party with two friends and turned out 25L of dill pickles. Wo.

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