When I was younger, I couldn’t picture myself as a parent. It was a foregone conclusion, but not one I felt strongly for. I suspected that I’d eventually feel obligated to propagate and then *wham* I’d be raising some kids. But somewhere between my first “real” relationship and the start of college, the tide changed. I became the friend that everyone assumed would settle down and start pushing out babies. I mean, I even had it planned out: married within a few years of graduating college, then have a kid at 25, 27, and 29. Done by 30. Fool-proof, right? Entirely wrong. Reality was me, unmarried, and a mother by 23. Not the worst, but it stilted my plans a bit. I adapted, and adjusted my plans to include a new baby after a few years, when the timing and circumstances were right. The funny thing was that circumstances were never right.
Miner’s canary: A caged bird kept caged in mine tunnels because its demise provided a warning of dangerous levels of toxic gases. (idiomatic) Something whose sensitivity to adverse conditions makes it a useful early indicator of such conditions; something which warns of the coming of greater danger or trouble by a deterioration in its health or welfare On a major road near my home sits a small medical practice. It’s an unassuming building, with a small sign touting its primary doctor’s name, yet it catches my attention nearly every time I drive by. Day or night, rain or shine, I see people — as few as 1 or as many as 10 — standing outside, protesting its provision of abortion services. The most prominent sign they display is “Pray to end abortion,” and I always get irked to no end, because they’ve got it all wrong. When I see that sign, I think “Don’t pray to end abortion; pray to end poor access to adequate health care and misinformation about contraceptives.” By that, I mean: abortion isn’t the bigger problem. Unplanned/unwanted pregnancies are. A “high” number of abortions is merely a symptom of the bigger problem, which is women being pregnant when they are not ready or […]
In Part 1, I reflected on my tendency to rationalize around my happiness. In Part 2, I talk about how I changed. So after all of the reflection on my life, I realized that my happiness was my problem, and mine alone. I had to resolve to figure out how to make myself happy. I didn’t know what the hell it was that would make me happy, but I knew that only I could figure it out because I don’t think it’s acceptable to expect someone to give me something I can’t give myself. And frankly, I think it’s unfair to put the burden of my own happiness, mental health, etc. on another person. What makes the difference in my happiness is my choice to make my life fulfilling for me, regardless of the different factors I faced on a day-to-day basis. I’ve always had a mix of the things I felt I needed to consider myself established, content, and even happy, albeit not always at the same time. However, until now, I didn’t stop to think critically about their purpose in the grand scheme of my life. I seriously think a switch was flipped and it was like “Look, you have […]
I think I’ve lived my entire life in the pursuit of happiness. I want to get to a place in my life where although everything isn’t perfect (because that doesn’t exist), I’m content and have genuine joy in my heart, not the feeling of obligatory gratefulness for having found a certain level of good fortune in life. My relative sanity fluctuates greatly depending on a ridiculous amount of factors. My work life, my home life, my friendships, parenting experiences, finances, health, relationships, etc., all play into whether I wake up excited for to face the world or whether I stare at the ceiling while I coax myself up to deal with whatever I know is on my plate that day. But those are temporal. For me, there was something deeper, lurking beneath those stressors that changed how I looked at everything.
I’ve sat back and watched, but it’s hard to keep quiet about this. Do people understand that your life doesn’t end with parenthood and that your identity doesn’t have to be synonymous with your role as parent? More and more, I see women (I’ll pick on them for a moment) who have these lavish baby showers that don’t acknowledge the reason for the party – you know, the BABY? The “showers” are, in reality, a reason to party and celebrate the mom-to-be, with almost no mention of the baby awaiting its grand entrance into the world. It’s as if the party is the last hoorah for the woman, akin to a funeral except in party form. I often ask myself (because it would be rude to ask them) “You do realize that you can still be you once you’re a mom, right?” While becoming a parent will undoubtedly change you, it doesn’t have to be all-consuming to the point where you lose your identity. You can still be the fabulous, fly, go-getter you were before gestation began, and the world will not implode. I promise — I’m living proof.