Make Womb for The Future

(Side note-I’m playing with the way this site looks. If you have a suggestion, or a thought, leave me a comment. I want to make sure everything is at least readable.)

Over the course of the last month, I’ve heard one question pop up each time we’ve (Ben and I) run into someone from our pasts. It’s the one question that forces me to bite my tongue so hard I’m sure I’ll gnaw right through. The one question that makes me want to smack my head against a wall. And that reaction is ubiquitous (my new favorite word) regardless of intention, identity of the questioner.

So, any kids yet?

Now, the question has variation of course. And some people I just assume ask because I’m a heavy woman. And that is the one case when I’m surprisingly not immediately offended. I get it-I’m fat. I’m not gonna pout about it. But that particular scenario has happened maybe once, so it’s the exception, not the rule.

Seriously though. I know a great many people who are parents-and damn good ones. If that’s the life they choose for themselves, I’m happy for them. But for Ben and I-it’s not the right time. And I know, I don’t have to defend my life choices to you lovely people, but we need to talk about gender expectations and this is one area I am a professional at.

Ahem.

When Ben and I got married (and at a young age), our congratulatory messages on social media were delightful, but several contained the question above. This may be an old story, but it’s relevant, so here goes. A year went by and in class, my professor asked if women in America experienced any pressures to have kids. I told him that the same day I got married, people were asking me. He shook his head and told me that he doubted it actually happened.

And that was two years ago. I’m still getting asked. I honestly don’t think I’ll stop being asked in the immediately foreseeable future. I don’t have to like that for it to be reality. So I try not to let it bother me. But the truth is, it’s demeaning, it’s borderline offensive and it’s not cool. Allow me to explain.

When you ask if I’m going to have kids soon, what you’re really saying is that my only value is in my ability to reproduce. You’re telling me that my marriage is only valuable if I make another human being. You’re telling my husband that his only worth is in producing sperm and that I am only as valuable as the number of offspring I produce. You’re telling me that my career isn’t worth anything, that I’ve wasted my time going to college. You’re telling me that my life ceases to be anything the moment I become a mother.

So let me tell you something.

I have value. As an individual. I don’t need to ever have a kid if I don’t want to. Do you know why? Because being a mother isn’t the only purpose for a woman to exist. I can be anything. I can be a lawyer, or a doctor or a fisher or a crafter or an actress or anything. And do you know why? Because if I want it-I will do it. And none of those things need your permission for me to accomplish.

So when you tell me that you want grandchildren because there are coworkers who talk about theirs and you don’t get to partake in that conversation-I’m silently fuming. You’re telling us that the only reason you want grandchildren is so that you won’t have to be left out? You’re telling us that you don’t care about what we want in life, just as long as you have a conversation starter? Excuse you. (And no, it’s not my parents.)

Let me tell you what I want.

I want to see the world. I want to work in a job I don’t hate, make friends who are loyal and share my interests. I want to go out and try new things, just for the sake of crossing them off my bucket list. I want to pay off all of my student loans. I want to be a member of wine of the month club and perform some more marriages. I want to live in a world where my value isn’t negotiable, my rights aren’t laughed at, my body is not something anyone else is entitled to. I want to live in a country where people are seen as equals-regardless of their skin color, their socioeconomic background, their beliefs. I want to live in a world where people care about one another, protect one another, help out one another.

And until that happens-all of that-I can’t imagine that having a child will make me happy. 

I don’t want to look at my kid and see nothing but regrets and “what ifs”. I don’t want to be bitter that I never got to do x, y, or z. I don’t want to resent my child because I can’t go to places I’ve always dreamed about. That’s not what I want for them.

And when I cross off all of the things I want out of life, all of the things I’ve ever desired and can offer my everything to my kid-it is then and ONLY then, that I will consider having one.

Because I am not defined by my ability to reproduce. And neither is anyone else.

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Accomplishment, Action, Attack

Today. Goodness gracious today. You have some days when you really feel like you’re doing your best and then life craps out on you. That was my day today. And because I am in a sharing mood, would you like to hear a story?

Today started by me waking up, asking my husband if he was going in today. He said no. That means: I drive myself to and from school. If you’ve followed me since the “Here be Dragons” post, you’ll know that driving is a big stressor for me. But I knew I could do it. So I took the dog out and went to work. I made it!

Half way through my shift, I get a text from my husband telling me that he actually had to go in today, and that he had to be on campus before 5 to turn in a form. So I email my professor and tell him that I will not be in class today. He calls down to the office where I work and we have the following conversation:

Professor: Hi Michelle, is there any possible way you could walk with me to class today? I’m having some problems with my kidney stones and I want to make sure someone is there to keep me from falling.

Me: Yea, of course! I’ll be down a few minutes before class starts.

And so I arrive with ten minutes to spare and hear him. The man is obviously in pain. He has his cane, and I’m on the other side of him. We make it about half way down the hall and he goes down. Now, I’m not proud to admit this, but I was really no help. I made sure he didn’t hit his head, but that was about the extent of my capabilities. I called for one of my bosses, who came out and with him came another professor. I was instructed to cancel class and keep things to a minimum. I did my best there. (I knew he would be in capable hands-I would not have been able to pick him up anyway, and my boss knew how to contact his wife.) So I ensure that that happens and I prepare myself to drive home.

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I drive, and guess what? I make it! Without incident. And it was my first time ever driving home too:) I switch my husband seats when I get there though (because I hadn’t eaten and he brought me a snack) and we head back to campus. I recount my tale and we arrive. He bolts off to his building, having switched places again and I commence driving around in circles to wait for him. It takes about 6 go rounds, but he returns and we switch one final time, preparing to head home.

On our way to the line of cars, we chat about dinner, and how I don’t want to eat out because we have leftovers. Once we are in the line, it’s very much just stopped traffic. Then out of nowhere BAM! We’ve been rear ended. I really wish I was making this up, but I’m not. My husband gets out of the car and looks at the damage. As it would turn out, the guy who hit us (who is LAUGHING at us, btw) has more damage than we do, so we leave to come home. No, we’re not going to report it, because that would just raise our rates and that’s just no good. (i made sure he was okay, and I made sure I was okay, and that’s the important part!) I’m thinking we’re both gonna take it easy for the next few days regardless. So we get to the gas station that we frequent by our apartment and try to fill the tire with air only to find out (after the fact) that the pump is only letting air out of the tires, not putting air in. So we give up, grab some food and head home.

fender-bender

(This is NOT our accident, it’s just the best representation of what happened. They suffered a pretty obnoxious front end issue and we managed to not really have any damage, except a slight crack to the bumper.)

I literally don’t know how today could have been anymore adrenaline packed, but all I can say is that I am glad that today marks the first evening of spring break, because I really have had quite about enough. I will email my professor and see how he’s doing soon. Maybe we all need more chocolate today.

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I guess the deal with today is that sometimes you are the lucky one and sometimes you’re not. Sometimes the money comes, and sometimes the money goes. When you do everything right, something still might go wrong. And it’s okay. Life will throw curve balls at you when you least expect it-because you least expect it. But at the end of the day, you can either tame your dragons or be eaten by them. Because life isn’t going to just take it easy on you because you’re “disadvantaged”, it’s going to force you to rise above. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

I Wish I Knew Then (Let Me Tell You A Story)

I’ve gotten the chance to meet a lot of people since I left high school. We’re all so different, so amazingly unique, but I’m starting to notice a trend and of course, I had to share it on this lovely blog. So if you will, as you always do, humor me. These experiences are not only mine, but also many other people I have spoken to.

“In high school, it is a general assumption that smart people go to college. If you are not smart, you go into the military or find a job at a factory or something.” I heard that quote recently and just laughed it off. Naturally, it started my mind a-wandering and I couldn’t help but think about it over and over and over. I had shrugged it off because loads of my graduating class had been smart and gone into the military. I hold the armed forces in highest esteem. But why is it that I can’t shake that sentence?

“I was told that college was what I was supposed to do.” That’s true. I never really heard anything other than “Go to college” from my high school guidance counsellors. And at the time, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, so college was really obvious to me anyway.

  And some really heavy conversations keep rolling around in my head. So many people who are in no way “dumb” keep telling me their stories about failing out of college, of leaving after a semester or two, or of aimlessly drifting through associate’s degrees because that’s what they were supposed to do.

I watched a video today about the “real faces of student loan debt” and people crying about not knowing better when they took out loans. I have student loans. And by the time I get completely finished with college, I’ll have a lot more. But again, the point remained. It’s what we’re supposed to do.

  WHY?

Sure, you can say: to get a job, to make something of yourself, to become an upstanding citizen, yada, yada, yada. But let me tell you a story that is so eerily similar to the people I’ve talked to.

About a year into college, I began to have a series of “breakdowns”. Why did college suck? Why wasn’t it fun? Why wasn’t it everything I had been told it would be? Wasn’t it supposed to be the best years of my life? Why then was it miserable, expensive and stressful? I almost gave up and left. My husband helped me reason it out, and I almost decided that college wasn’t right for me. I graduated high school second in my class, with a GPA of 3.98 and as a member of the National Honor Society. I had credentials. I didn’t understand why education was no longer something I was the best at. I mean, I was smart. Why wasn’t college easy? It was what I was supposed to do, after all and I hated it. 

  Several years later, I eye my student loans warily, with that suspicious sort of “are you even real?” Attitude. I’m not done collecting loans and they most definitely haven’t even begun collecting me-but it weighs on my mind a lot. And with application season only just beginning for me (I just registered for the LSAT and GRE), I cannot help but look back at what I’ve done.

Why is it that so many people-men and women-leave college? The people I have talked to voiced similar concerns as I had. It wasn’t what had been promised, they felt inadequate, college wasn’t what made them happy. And I think the problem lies in there somewhere. If your high school guidance counsellors were anything like mine, they pushed college on you hard. It wasn’t even really a question. And it was explained to you that smart people went to college, got degrees and got away from the smal town we were in. Smart people became doctors or scientists, and college would be the time of your life. You were in fact, preparing yourself to succeed in college.

 

 I don’t think I was.

You could argue that yes, my grades are pretty decent. I stand a great chance of getting accepted by a law school or a master’s program and academically, sure. I guess, more or less, I am prepared. But mentally? Emotionally? Not a big fat chance. I feel like I have the maturity of a toddler who missed nap time most days and I’m not even sure about the other days. It’s literally like teething academically-there’s a lot of pain, anger and in the end someone gives you a sticker (or in this case, diploma) and hopes you’ll forget how much it hurt. And on good days, when I am a fully functional adult? Those are the days that I just stare blankly at the wall, wondering why someone didn’t warn me beforehand that I needed to work more, go to a cheaper college and live with my parents until I was 30 so I wouldn’t be drowning in debt.

You could argue that I should have known, and I would sheepishly nod my head. But how could I have known? I was a teenager. I didn’t know a thing about interest rates on student loans, the cost of living or even how to love myself. I was asked-or well, demanded of really-to plan out my entire life before I was even able to vote and yet just a few years before, I was being considered for electroshock therapy (I know it’s called something else now-but that’s still EXACTLY what it is). So why is it that so many people leave college?

Because we aren’t being honest with our young people. It isn’t the end of the world if you decide to get a job after high school and postpone college until you know EXACTLY what you want to do. It isn’t the end of the world if you never go to college. It’s not even the end of the world if you do what I did and stay in college even when you’re sometimes miserable. (For the record, I am no longer miserable, although I do feel a bad case of senioritis coming on!) You want to know what is the end of the world? Feeling like you have absolutely no choice in the matter because you were told that smart people have to go to college. That’s total rubbish. You do you the way you want to do you. You have your entire life ahead of you. And in the words of the great philosopher Ms. Frizzle (winky face)

Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy!