“Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You have to be fully committed.” ~ Eat Pray Love
It was rainy yesterday. And sometimes, when it’s rainy, all you want to do is wear pajamas and watch a movie like Eat Pray Love. Paint your toenails. Eat…yogurt?
I don’t know.
The point is that I netflixed Eat Pray Love because I could and this particular quote jumped out to me. Mostly because I thought it was hilarious. Secondarily because it had relevance to my life and a certain psychological battle I’ve been dealing with recently.
Yay, babies! Right? Everyone likes babies. Babies are nice people, I’m sure. And I like babies–other people’s babies. They’re great. And I’m pretty sure I’ll have my own baby(ies?) in the future at some point. But, the thing is, I’m not planning on having one any time soon.
And the reason is two fold. First, most of the time I don’t feel like it’s the right choice right now and neither does my husband (which is as much of a reason than anyone needs, in my opinion).
But, secondarily, we both also think that our little family is not financially stable enough to feel confident we could do a baby good.
Mostly, it’s because we’re transitional. Husband is finishing his PhD in something esoterically academic which means we’ll (hopefully) be setting out into the transient life of post-docs. If he can’t get a toe into the post-doc circus, then I’ll set out to find a position in my more marketable specialty. The preference is for him to find his academic toe-hold first, since my career is much more universally applicable. If I go all “single-provider” now, then he might not get the experience he needs to build his dream career. But, if he goes all “provider” now, the chance of us both finding fulfilling jobs in the future is much higher. See?
Anyway, the point is that we aren’t poor, we’re both educated, but we definitely are not stable. So, even if we did feel like “the time was right,” we both agree that we would still not start our family because it wouldn’t feel like a smart or responsible choice (we’re moving? health insurance issues? will there be any job for either of us? etc.).
Enter the naysayers!
However, I have heard waaaaaaaay more than a few stories from friends and family about how they “made it work.”
“Neither of us had a job and Bob was still in school and we had to go on Medicaid, but we made it work.”
“I had three little children and we were so poor that I cried when I accidentally broke a bottle of milk, but we made it work.”
“We literally ate beans and rice for dinner six times a week, but we made it work.”
Now…I want to be clear here. I have a tremendous respect for the stories that “made things work” when there was no other choice. For example:
“We had four kids and John lost his job. So John and I went back to school to get our degrees. It was so hard, we were on food stamps, but we made it work”
See…that’s amazing and heroic to me.
I guess, I get confused at the stories that indicate that there was a choice, the protagonists were fully aware that they were in no way financially independent, and yet they chose to disregard these issues, have a baby, literally cry over spilled milk, and eventually rise to accept our community’s holy patina of “just having faith.”
The pragmatist in me winces. I can’t help but recognize another paradox in our faith–one where we are told to just trust conference talks God and everything will work out vs. where we are told to not go into debt and to adequately provide for our families. Usually, I’m way more into the latter than the former–because it’s logical and I dig logic.
Yet, there are moments in time when Husband and I look at each other and say, “We could do this. We could do this right now. We could make it work.” And in those moments I want to switch off the pragmatist and the accountant in me, buy up a bag of beans, and start trolling Craigslist for used cribs. I see that there really can be something spiritual and wonderful in the idea of making it work, in suffering through some inevitable and potentially super-lame worldly troubles for the sake of something bigger and grander like nurturing the life of a child.
I feel like Tevye sometimes: “On the other hand….on the other hand…but on the OTHER hand.”
So Husband and I stay on the safe side of things and I’m okay with that. I’m not okay with people calling our choice “selfish” since that is actually the opposite of our intention. Our choice is not for the sake of our own procreative desires but rather for the well being of our potential child…but I’ve come to accept that there will always be people who feel threatened if my life doesn’t mirror theirs.
Regardless, I guess what I’m wondering is: What are your insights or opinions about “Making it Work”? What are or were your choices and why? What good can you see in what I’m calling the “Safe Choice”? What good can you see in “Making it Work”?
- 27 March 2011