CASTIGLIA: I married young because I knew I wanted to get married and I wanted to have a family. In marrying so young, I made a choice that didn’t work out and I’m now divorced, but I have a beautiful daughter. It seems that often women are cornered in these ways: wait to find someone you feel truly compatible with and enter a marriage you feel as certain as possible will last but then deal with potential fertility issues, or marry young and take your chances when you’re still quite fertile. Not that it’s always an either/or situation, but still. Based on the way things have played out for you, what advice would you give to younger women when it comes to love/marriage/babies? I mentioned on Facebook a while back that women should take the time they need to try to find a truly healthy love relationship, but that if they don’t find a great partner by their mid-30′s, they should just have a baby alone.
KLEIN: I really hope that in the future egg-freezing becomes standard procedure, and then everyone can make better choices.
In a way, I am jealous of you that you were so certain you wanted to be a mother and you knew that so young. I didn’t. I wasn’t born with the “maternal gene” and had to come to it a long way after. I went into therapy at 35 (late!) to figure out if I wanted to have children or if I didn’t (either would be okay). The one thing I didn’t want to do was wake up at 44 and say, “I was just afraid, I wish I would have done it.”
If I could do it all over again, I’d have partied in my 20s, realizing I wasn’t interested in settling down, so to stop pretending. I would have dated and figured out what kind of guy I’d want to settle down with. I’d start dating seriously at the end of my 20s, early 30s, have kids by 35. Ha ha, can anyone really plan their life like that?
I honestly think it’s all okay: marrying young, not marrying, having children later, not having children at all. It’s so hard to remember that each one of us was put on this planet to live out our own particular journeys, and there’s no one way to get there!
I don’t consider myself too traditional but there’s something about a woman choosing to have a baby alone that is so “ugh” to me. It smacks of a deep selfishness and that reminds me of unadulterated capitalism. I mean having children in general is selfish but having them KNOWING that you they won’t have a vital part of themselves in their lives is sickening. I once heard someone refer to it as “motherhood idolatry.” I love that term and I believe that’s what my mom had when she chose to have my brother and I with my dad (no one can convince me she didn’t know our dad was a bum; she just chose to have kids with him anyway).
Anyway, articles like this remind me of the Sandberg ‘Lean In’ phenomenon. It focuses on one group and takes attention away from the majority. Because even though the motherhood idolaters suggest more women should freeze their eggs, the truth is with all of this reproductive technology there are more childless/childfree women (1 in 5 vs 1 in 10) than there used to be, not less.
I guess I just a get a little sad when I think about the fact that those who are more reflective (not necessarily ‘smart’; I hate the “only smart people should have kids” argument) are the ones not having kids while the motherhood idolaters have kids with abandon and try to get the rest of us to see it as something sacred rather than just the doings of overgrown apes.
How interesting that you posted this today. I too read Klein’s column in “Motherlode” this week and found myself with a bunch of conflicting emotions… on the one hand, extremely sympathetic to Klein’s plight and hopeful that she will get the child she so badly desires. But another part of me, like Castiglia, wondered why she was clinging so adamantly to the notion that she just HAD to have biological children (as opposed to adoption/surrogacy/egg donation).
Anyway. I watched Nina Davenport’s fabulous documentary “First Comes Love” last night (http://www.ninadavenport.com/FIRST-COMES-LOVE), which you can catch if you have HBO On Demand. Davenport basically chronicles her own desire to have a family despite being single at age 41. She eventually gets pregnant via sperm donation and IVF and gives birth to a son, still single. I just thought it was so interesting — and yes, heartwarming — to see a woman doing exactly what she wants to do in spite of the overwhelmingly negative reactions of most of her friends and family (who obviously come around once the adorable kid is born).
So yeah, I have to disagree with your last commenter. There’s absolutely nothing “ugh” to me about a woman choosing to have a child alone, as long as she’s aware of the journey ahead of her (and any self-aware woman would be, let’s give her some credit). As for the term “motherhood idolaters?” Again, let’s give a woman some credit — it’s not like she’s jumping on a fashion trend or deciding to get her nails done. The desire to be a mother is a real and serious one that clearly motivates some to embark on the journey alone. That shouldn’t discount her or make her “selfish” in any way.
I stand by my original comment. And especially by the term “motherhood idolator.” It IS a trend to PURPOSELYhave children on your own.
Is that all life is about? fultfilling our desires regardless of the costs to others? Or is it okay because she has the money (or is willing to go into debt to do so)?
I guess it’s my fault for expecting more from human beings.
I guess you mean the word “trend” in a pejorative way, but the question is, why? Is it also a “trend” for women to work outside the home, since most didn’t do so before World War II?
I’m also curious about what you consider “the costs to others” are in this case. To the mother, who is no doubt fully aware of what she is getting into when she signs up for single parenthood? Or to the child, who is born into a home where he/she is fully loved and so badly wanted?
I have to agree with chickpositive here. It is the ultimate expression of selfishness to say *I* am going to have a child just because *I* want to. It’s bad enough that children are being raised in single parent households as a result of unforeseen events, without deliberately bringing a child into such an environment.
I’m okay with spending your life fulfilling all your desires all you like, as long as it is not to the detriment of someone else’s life. I don’t see it as okay to bring a child into less than optimal conditions just because you want one. If the woman truly cared about the new person she is bringing into the world, she wouldn’t do it. But all these women seem to care about is their *wants* and not that of the child. Hence why I agree it is the ultimate expression of selfishness.
Wow… your comment smacks of the same kind of narrow-minded, 1950’s definition of “family” that initially led so many people to resist the legalization of gay marriage. Haven’t we learned yet that it’s love that makes a family, and not some outdated Donna Reed-esque concept that increasinly isn’t reflected in society?
I also wish we would stop using the word “selfish” to define women who are making informed choices about their lives and futures — regardless of whether they have a man in the picture or not.
I did post something about that film but don’t have HBO and so haven’t been able to see it:
Honestly I have some ambivalent feelings about the whole single motherhood thing. I do appreciate that it allows women freedom from having to wait on a man to “give” them a baby. On the other hand, I am a bit wary of the idea of “motherhood of all costs” and I, myself, couldn’t see taking on single parenting. Other women are in much better positions to pull it off than me though.
I’m going to see what other articles are out there on that film.