Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mandatory Maternity

So here's what happened. I have an old friend who doesn't like to hear news second-hand, so I called her to tell her I was moving to Florida. She said, "Oh," rather deflated.  "What's wrong? You and I haven't lived near each other in years, " I asked, misinterpreting the disappointment in her voice.  "Oh, it's nothing," she said sheepishly; "I just thought you were calling to tell me you were having a baby."  

I actually don't blame her for this reaction. This post isn't about her, at all; if I've heard this once, I've heard it 1,000 times. Many of my friends are on child #2. To many people, I am "behind."  

Recently, at my father's 60th birthday, I saw several former teachers who guided me through elementary, junior high, and high school. My mother told them (and everyone) that I'd gotten my PhD, and these teachers said, "We're so glad for you. Do you have any children yet?"  

This has been an unusual reaction for me. I'm not sure what I expected -- I've been too busy to wonder what other people would think -- but I find it odd that my identity, while for me has been defined as academic, scholar, teacher, wife, friend, and daughter, is not complete to other people unless I adopt the persona of mother.  People are often quickly apologetic after they point out what they see as an omission in my life.  They say, "Oh, I know I never liked it when people asked me."  "It's none of my business of course." "You don't have to tell me."  

Isn't it odd that, while I've finally achieved self-sufficiency, while I've gone to college for 10 years, searched for the right job for almost as long,  own my own house, have a successful marriage, and am involved in my community,  because I'm a woman, it isn't enough? 


Benjie said...

Let me add my, "I'm so proud of you" to the mix and while my oldest is just starting her school career (1st grade) most of the people my age are welcoming their grandchildren.

You're doing great, and you should know it.

Pritchard said...

Amen, sister! I don't understand why people don't think your life is complete as a woman until you have children. I currently have 41 of them part-time and am thrilled when I get to send them home at the end of the day. I don't understand why people sometimes still seem shocked that we aren't even thinking about kids until Billy finishes school and gets a job. God forbid I can afford to support myself and a child!

Camille said...

If it's enough for you, it's enough.

Laura said...

Wow, Kacy. I have so much to say on this subject, but I'm going to try to keep this comment short. :) I planned on waiting until my career was established before starting my family, but God had other plans. My husband and I were "surprised" by my pregnancy while I was in law school. I had my first child in January of my third year. I had a c-section, took almost 2 weeks off from class, and then returned to school graduating on time. I currently work full-time and have two kids. My views regarding motherhood, career, education, etc. have vastly changed since having children. Mostly, I am irritated by people who think that being a stay-at-home-mom is not a noble aspiration. (I do not think that you are saying this at all.) That's just the beginning of what could be a long blog post. :)

You've accomplished a lot and have a fulfilling life. You just haven't experienced the blessing of children yet. Nothing wrong with that. If my life had gone as I planned it, I'd be in a similar situation. Nonetheless, I never knew how much I would enjoy being a mother and what joy (and pain) it would bring me until I experienced it. I hope that someday you can experience that too--not because what you have isn't enough, but because children are such a blessing.

I hope that doesn't sound condescending at all, because I don't mean for it to! Congratulations on yor PhD and new job! I know that you'll be a fabulous professor! Good luck!

mtex said...

And who is the little darling pictured above? I thought I told you to stop stealing children!


The Medievalist said...

Those kinds of comments are very frustrating. No one asks men that question. I am sure that the Lord will bless you and Andrew with children in His time, which is not everyone's else's time. For now, you have to move to Florida and start working on tenure. Don't forget to come back to Central Texas from time to time.

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