I’m starting to think that my friends who had kids at the last possible second– at 39, 40, 42– are quite lucky indeed. They were able to experience two decades of dating and working, and just when it was all getting stale, and it was beginning to dawn on them that they weren’t going to accomplish the career success they had dreamed of, they were able to redirect their desire for fulfillment into raising a child. They all seem pretty appreciative that they have had the chance to do so.
On the other hand, not having a child at this stage means that I have to face all that angst head on. I have to squarely face my regrets over not having a family and my disaffection with my career; there’s no redirecting and nowhere to hide.
Women who have had a family by this age but no career might look forward to getting out in the work world, and it appears that women who have had both, at least according to the article below, now want to catch up on all the “wild times” they have missed.
The women in this piece just might want to talk to women who have been single for decades. I’m sure we could swiftly disabuse them of the notion that being single past one’s twenties is some kind of dionysian carnival ride that they’ve been missing out on.
I’m annoyed by the fact that women like me are nowhere to be found in it. It confirms my suspicion that parents all hang out with each other, and I am invisible to their club:
Our children now school-aged, our marriages entering their second decade, we are avoiding the big questions—Should I quit my job? Have another child? Divorce?—by behaving like a bunch of crazy twentysomething hipsters. Call us the Regressives.
Why do moms in my generation regress, whether by drugging, cheating, or going out too late and too often? Because everything our children thrive on—stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents—feels like death to those entrusted with their care. This is why they start drinking at wine o’clock, which is so dubbed not only because it coincides with whine o’clock but because it can begin at six p.m., or five, or even four. (Though the four o’clock mothers wind up in A.A.) I know a mom who drinks only on the weekends because she thinks it’s more responsible… but she starts with a mimosa at brunch on Saturday at eleven, and doesn’t stop until her Sunday night television shows are over.
As the children age (and multiply), the moms are burdened by the responsibility—to work, hold onto their homes, watch over their kids’ social and academic lives. The boredom turns to terror. You can almost clock the moment it begins, past preschool but before kindergarten. The childbearing is over, the breastfeeding in the past, the sling donated to Housing Works. It’s the moment when a mom dresses as a Harajuku girl for Halloween, or there’s a full bar at a four-year-old’s birthday party, or two ladies step out of book group to smoke on the stoop. It’s blowjob gestures at cocktail parties followed by a-little-too hysterical laughter. It’s the mother who says, “Mommy needs an Advil because she stayed up too late last night.” It’s fortieth birthday parties at karaoke bars.