I have a terrible secret. I like the song “(I wanna have your) Babies” by Natasha Bedingfield. There I said it, it’s out in the open. I haven’t even admitted this to Olivia and Addison before now. I can just see them hanging their heads in shame. I don’t even like the melody. The thing is I just can’t help but relate to the song. I’m cluck-ey, I wanna have babies.
Lots of things make me cluck-ey. Baby shops, cute little dresses, and especially cute little shoes. Oh my god, they are so cute! Then there is visiting family members with babies, and young children. But the thing that makes me cluck the most, dating. I can’t help but picture the house, the kids, the family holidays. But I’m not as crazy as I sound (and I’m certainly several degrees of crazy away from putting pin holes in condoms). I just can’t help but want all of these things. That’s why I like the song, because she’s desperately trying to hide her baby mania from her romantic interests.
There is nothing wrong with wanting babies. Plenty of girls my age (from my high school) have already had multiple children. But I also want a career. I’m educated and doing well at life. I want to get a phd, and then I want to do well professionally. But every time I see a teeny-tiny pair of shoes, I want a baby!
I’m probably asking too much from my life. Wanting the whole package. The man, the baby, the career.
I began to notice that young educated women feel the need to characterize themselves into two groups. Those who want babies, and those who want a career. Olivia, Addison and I sit around and discuss the merits of either path. However, ultimately we feel that we will have to decide between one or the other. The last time we discussed the matter as a threesome, I chose babies, Olivia chose career, and Addison sat on the fence (the most sensible as per usual).
I think we have got this idea from the women we look up to. There are our parents of-course, in my family it was my father who had the career (my mum was a stay at home mum). Then there are our bosses. My boss has a partner, but has chosen not to have a family to allow her the freedom to focus on her career. During my under-graduate studies I noticed that large numbers of the female academics were single, and even those with partners were childless. This is after we take into account that most of our professors were male.
A few months ago I was talking to the head maintenance technician at work about my life plans. I told him I was planning to start my PhD later this year. He asked me what I planned on doing with a PhD, and I said I was waiting to see where life took me. He gave me a very considered look, then informed me that I looked like the kind of young girl who was bound to get married soon, and by the time I’d finished my PhD (in four or five years) I’d be right at the height of my nesting and ready to start having babies. He laughed and said I’d be an extremely qualified mother. I decided not to take offense as he’s a nice man, and he’s reaching retirement age so I put his opinions down to his being from an older generation. However what frustrates me more is that my mother also touts similar opinions. I asked her one day if she’s so convinced I’m going to get married and start having children, why is she supporting the idea that I get a PhD. My mum reminded me that research has shown that there is a positive correlation between the level of education obtained by a mother and the general well-being and quality of life given to the child. Thanks mum, a PhD is going to the most expensive, stressful, time consuming mothering course out there! I want a family, and I want a PhD. But surely having a family wont render my PhD as a glorified prenatal class?
I could now go into lots of stats about the glass ceiling, and why women are struggling to achieve in the work place (I’m sure Olivia knows most of these stats off hand). But really all I wanted to point out was that right from when we are at university, we just know we’ll have to choose between babies and a career. Is that really fair?