thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: April, 2012

choice

Sometimes I wonder if traveling and attending an expensive college were big factors in me ending up childless.  I was exposed to beauty and freedom and leisure but, not being independently wealthy, I could only keep a modicum of those qualities in my life by either finding a wealthy husband or remaining childless.  This did not escape me during the decades of my prime fertility.

Two comments on this review of Badinter’s book (http://www.salon.com/2012/04/29/freedom_from_cloth_diapers/singleton) reminded me of this again.

One:

Not all women or men can afford to leave work. The household needs to two paychecks and the healthcare that might be included. Since our society provides little in the way of putting our money where our mouths are on this particular front, we’re stuck. Whichever way we go, we’re screwed. We are criticized for not living the way only a select few can really afford to live, and wait for it, if we point this out, we’re told, “Well, if you can’t afford it, don’t have a baby.” Which isn’t even an accurate statement. Most people can ‘afford’ it, as much as anyone else, but they need two paychecks. They need, more importantly, healthcare choices in a society where healthcare is crappy and expensive. Duh. 

Whenever I read these articles, I hope for something different. But, always, it’s 1) lip service to ‘Do what you want’ 2) But I sacrificed!!! And we’re just a-okay! Implicitly implying something entirely different 3) No need to work, which is not a reality for most people. 

How about we read one on a family where going back to work isn’t a choice, because the family wants to retain their health care? How about one where the author says, “I wanted to continue to breastfeed, but honestly, the situation in our society is still bleak, and I had to go back to work.” Or, “I liked going back to work! It gave me time to refresh and rejuvenate my mind and spirit. Here’s how to pick a good daycare!” 

These same points of view are being rehashed over and over. Salon’s readership can’t all be privileged upper middle. There aren’t that many of those people left!

Two:

In addition, we live in a country where the majority of mothers work–and the majority of them work not out of some feminist ideal of having both a career and family, but out of mere survival. However, we act on a policy level as well as a cultural one as if this isn’t the case–as if mothers are stating at home in droves baking cookies, being there 24/7 for their kids in summer, and generally not having anything else to occupy their time except childcare–and that they’re really really happy with that!

It’s maddening to see mothers pitted against other mothers, when the economic playing field is so wildly shifted against ALL mothers. If we really cared about kids, as our national rhetoric constantly goes, why not have universal childcare, universal summer camps, and universal health insurance so every working mom can have more time actually *being* with her kids and not being completely frazzled trying to do this with the inadequate patchwork of help that is often the only thing available to moms of any stripe? Instead, we have these inane wars over whether to breastfeed or not, whether to cloth diaper or not, and the folks in power just keep laughing.

 

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remembrance of statements past

A few vivid memories that I feel are undeserving of individual posts but that have stuck with me all these years:

1.  My college roommate telling me that she couldn’t envision me as a wife and mother.  That stunned me, as I loved kids and had been babysitting for years.  Still don’t know what she meant by that or if she herself has had children.

2.  In my late twenties, while I was in another transition, I told a male friend that I wished I could get married and have kids.  His reply was, “I can’t believe you want to be a hausfrau.”  I was taken aback by his sneering disapproval.

3.  A well-educated and quite independent friend in her late thirties telling me she had met a single fortysomething woman who was involved in numerous groups and athletic clubs and that she didn’t “want to end up like her.”  Her statement surprised me into silence.

 

 

metamorphosis

I’m thinking this year is going to be a wash in terms of forming a new relationship.  With each passing month, as I come to terms with not having children and begin to re-imagine the next half of my life, I feel less and less open to other people.  For the time being, my energy seems consumed by this transformation.

One thing that does occasionally bubble to the surface is this angry feeling of having been “ripped off” of some fundamental birthright to a loving mate.  Still working on that one.

rewards

One of the things I find hard not to notice is that success for men almost always equates with finding a mate, whereas the same does not hold true for women.  Taking the field of comedy as an example, most successful male comics have attractive wives at home tending the children, while a great number of successful female comics are single.

Part of this probably has to do with the fact that successful women are looking for equally (or more) successful mates who are dynamic and challenging, whereas successful men may prioritize finding someone who is simply sweet and good at tending the home.

I don’t know what the answer is.  I know a solution commonly given is for women to lower their standards and prioritize finding a helpmate who can tend the home like a wife.   Rarely do you hear the recommendation that men raise their standards to finding an equal.

mavis

A psychological take on the film Young Adult here:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reel-therapy/201203/young-adult-the-new-borderline-personality-disorder-in-cinema

It’s a credit to the film that a definitive analysis is impossible.  I don’t completely agree with the borderline personality hypothesis, but personality disorders are tricky concepts.  I will say that the writer’s line about “social support seems like a distant memory” could apply to the lives of many women who are single and childless past a certain age and has little to do with their mental health.  I also feel like this line is unhelpful to singles:  Consequently, they pursue core emotional needs in unskillful ways while healthier, more adaptive personality structures move through life engaged in more ‘advanced’ psychological endeavors like building long-term marriages and conducting philanthropy.

I also liked this reader comment:

Is it really BPD?

Submitted by Anonymous on March 13, 2012 – 11:26am.

I am wondering if there is too little emphasis put on the fact that Mavis experienced a miscarriage while in a relationship with Buddy. In addition, we hear about the fact that she was recently divorced and had no children with her ex-husband. In the “rejection scene”, which is at Buddy and Beth’s baby naming party, not Beth’s birthday party, Mavis makes the point that if her “parts” would have worked correctly, she would be having that party. Perhaps she is not able to concieve? I can imagine how that could have possibly led to her divorce; add to that alcohol abuse as a way of coping, the canceling of her book series and the baby announcement from Buddy, and to me it seems that Mavis is in a deep depression. I don’t understand why her main problem would be considered BPD, especially since we don’t know much about her younger years other than through the eyes of Matt. If anyone could shed some light on this for me I would greatly appreciate it!

holding out

A friend of mine recently had a baby within a relationship that is somewhat rocky.  A few weeks ago she told me that her partner said that, bottom line, he doesn’t respect her.  His statement may be the breaking point for her.

My first reaction from the conversation was disbelief that two people would have moved ahead with having a child in such a relationship.   Then I remembered having numerous conversations with my friend about her relationship, and one of the things I told her was to be aware that if she waits for the right situation to have a child, there is a possibility that she will miss the opportunity to have one.  I didn’t say this to instill fear in her but in the sense of exploring her situation from all angles and looking at her options.  I explained that I had held out, and while I believe it was the right decision for me, I ended up childless.

There’s such a small window of time available to get one’s ducks in a row in order to have a child, that I’d be surprised if any woman felt she was as ready as she would like to be.  Not only do you have to find a compatible partner, but ideally you would both be economically and emotionally prepared for parenting.

I used to believe that my chances of having a family were increasing with each failed relationship and each passing year in that I was growing more mature and experienced and economically stable.  Up to a point that may have been true, but earlier than I realized my chances began to narrow as the pool of partners became smaller and biologically I was passing my reproductive prime.

Life in general is that way.  By the time I feel like I’ve really started to figure things out, I will probably be in my dotage.

imagination

This quote seems a companion to the Dyer quote two posts back:

I know that I have found myself ardently encouraging a woman I know in her late 30s to have a baby, and then I have to catch myself: What is my investment in this, and how can I possibly know if she should have a baby? I can’t make an argument for children generally, and why would I want to?  I wonder if part of this is that having children is such a transfiguring and defining experience, that one has trouble imagining those transfigured or defined by other things: That it is a lack of imagination at the core.

From http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/roiphe/2012/04/childlessness_remains_a_taboo_.html?wpisrc=sl_ipad

tough jobs

While it can be tough, I’m not sure motherhood fits my definition of a job.  In any case, I almost missed these this week:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-oped-0420-daum-20120420,0,4670236.column

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/27/motherhood_is_not_a_job/

tradition

My family didn’t have many traditions when I was growing up, and my mother now laments that our nuclear family is small and that we aren’t connected to a larger extended family at the holidays.  I think that’s less and less common though.

This podcast episode is an interesting discussion by five childless adults as to the meaning of tradition and if it’s necessarily connected to family (humor, curse words, and political incorrectness ahead):

http://www.thelongshotpodcast.com/?p=1325

excuses

Interesting article here (http://paper.li/gatewaywomen/1312655044), especially this bit:

The dark idea here again is that children are the best excuse in the world not to pursue happiness, not to live fully or take risks or attempt the work one loves. The compromises we make are justified, elevated, and transfigured by the fact of children, and this can be a relief. And Dyer’s point is interesting in that it is not that children transform vibrant, ambitious, desiring people into juice-box-carrying automatons, but rather that the juice-box carrying offers a socially acceptable escape from all that troublesome vibrancy.