For Now, My Career is My Baby

forgotkids

I’m a 30 year old yoga teacher, and my career is my baby.

Sometimes I ask myself whether my wanting to have a career instead of a baby is a problem, like maybe that’s too selfish. The idea that it’s selfish to prefer my own personal development over motherhood has somehow been ingrained in me and many other women, but I truly don’t want children right now. I’m enjoying working on myself, and I have enough challenges without having to change diapers and wake up for 3 a.m. feedings.

For the first time in my life, I know I could handle being a mom. I know my husband and I could love and support a baby if we had one. I’m not opposed to being a mom one day, either. It’s just not at the top of my list right now. A lot of women seem to feel they have to make a firm decision and stick to it forever. Most women have at some point experienced a sincere change of heart on something, and been rewarded with derision and accusations of fickleness, one of many ways that misogyny thrives in our culture. But all I can say for sure is what’s true for me right now. I might want kids one day, but for now the answer is still no.

Plenty of my close friends have kids now, and while they seem to be happy, I don’t feel envious of them. If anything, I feel a little bit sad that the difference between moms and non-moms creates such a social gulf. I don’t feel left behind like they’re getting to experience some magical thing that’s unavailable to me. I’ve heard enough of their stories to believe that while parenthood is extremely fulfilling to many people, it’s no panacea. Nor do I think they’re missing out on something by being moms instead of pursuing careers.

It has taken me a long time to grasp that not wanting kids doesn’t make me selfish or weird. The popular characterization of childless women says if you don’t have a baby, it’s because you haven’t found the right person yet, you’re infertile, or you’re lesbian (and we just assume lesbians don’t have mothering instincts). If none of those things are true and you actually just don’t want babies, that’s when people start to look at you askance. Maybe you’re a cold person who can’t love and chooses a career to avoid the inevitable misery you would inflict on your young due to bad parenting instincts. Or maybe you’re just selfish and wanna spend your money on yourself instead of baby clothes. Or you’re just too young and stupid. People assume your priorities are screwed up or you didn’t get the memo about how to be a satisfied adult woman, in which it clearly states that now is about the time your ovaries are supposed to start aching. I actually had someone tell me I better get busy breeding before I turn 35 or else conceiving is going to be complicated. Apparently if you reach 40 and haven’t had a baby yet, adoption agencies become skeptical about whether you can even handle parenthood. Hooray for other people’s judgments!

In reality, I’m just really into what I’m doing right now. I’m married to my best friend. I teach yoga and write. I go out when I want to. I don’t change diapers. I travel when I can, sleep late, stay up late, and generally have a pretty good time of things. You can call that selfish if you like, but at least I know myself well enough not to have a baby when my priorities are simply elsewhere.

Based on the trends I’ve observed in my own life, I think that within 5 years I’ll switch from the “actively avoiding pregnancy” club to the “maybe we should plan a nursery in our next house” committee. But in the mean time, I’m pursuing my ambitions like a motherfucker (no pun intended), and I see nothing wrong with that.

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Five Years Ago Today …

Today is my five-year wedding anniversary with my husband. We met in August 2004, got married in June 2008,  and have been adventuring together ever since. Please allow me this one selfish post full of pictures to celebrate, eh?

Nirting in Public
A few months after we met, taking selfies in Fry’s like ya do.
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Quakecon 2005. It cracks me up how exhausted we look.
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Halloween 2005 in Arlington, Texas
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This one time, we threw the most amazing party at my parents house.
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Pretending to be helicopters with the team.
xmas day with nimby
To this day, I am still all up in his business whenever I get the chance.

I actually wrote a long, personal post about the ups and downs of marriage so far, and maybe I’ll share that one day. But for now, I just wanna say thanks to Nimby for being my best friend and confidant, and thanks to all our friends and family who have loved and supported us along the way.

Our wedding vows were very simple: I love and accept you for exactly who you are, and I promise to support you as you continue to grow. The ceremony lasted only 10 minutes, but that promise is still going strong.

Here’s to five years of marriage, nine years of epic friendship, and many more adventures to come.

xoxo!

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I’m a Grownup, Damnit!

New_Orleans_Family_1915_211I’ve been thinking lately that it’s time for me to open up a little more online. I’ve experimented here and there with sharing my feelings on current events or talking about loss, but I want to start doing it in a more overt and intentional way. And yes, I really do think this way all the time — I analyze the potential risks of everything before I do it. Opening up the way I want to do feels like a big risk, so I’m going to do an experiment. Once a month, I’ll write a post about what’s going on in my head. It won’t be to teach a lesson or prove a point but just to share. Hopefully sometimes it’ll be light and funny, but sometimes like today it will be more serious.

So here’s what’s up with me right now.

When I go home is the only time I feel less than good enough. I’m the type of person who’s ready to simply walk away from anyone who wants to judge me. I don’t need your approval, and I decline to explain myself. Except when it comes to my family. I have finally recovered from a 10-day trip to visit my friends and family in the south, and I’m trying to deal with the mental fallout from it all.

It’s hard to describe how much my family members mean to me — we’re definitely one of the closest families I know — but I often compare myself to them and find myself lacking. Next to my sister, who is petite and pixyish even after having a baby, I feel awkward, clumsy, and wildly unattractive. My oldest brother is a doctor, taking over the family business, raising three kids of his own, and living in a gorgeous brand new home. Custom built, of course. Next to him, I feel childish, irresponsible, and slobbish. My other brother is kindof like a male version of me. We understand each other pretty well, and I don’t feel bad when I’m around him, even though we haven’t always gotten along. Still, I think all my siblings accept each other and me. We all want to see each other succeed and be happy no matter what. Our parents, however, are a different story. They want me to be happy, but I think they want it to be on their terms. Every time I go home, I think they wish I would stay. They wouldn’t blink twice if I called them right now and asked to move back into my old room.

My oldest brother’s first kid was born before I moved out, and my parents immediately became involved in helping to raise the grandkids. They skipped right over being empty-nesters, and I don’t think it ever occurred to them to let go the apron strings from their kids — especially me. When I was in college, my dad would often say, “We’re not done raising you,” because they were still paying my tuition and helping me in a lot of ways. But now? I’m not convinced that they ever stopped “raising” me, even though I grew up. To be a happily married 30-year-old woman and visit your family only to be treated like an 18-year-old who got caught playing house is extremely unpleasant.

I know what you’re thinking — I should be having this conversation with my parents and not my blog. That’s what adults do. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past two weeks, it’s that my family isn’t perfect, and they’re not going to be. Repeatedly asking them to change hasn’t brought me any comfort yet, nor has explaining myself, justifying myself, and shouting, “I’m a grownup, damnit!”

On our way home, my husband asked if I planned to call my parents about all the emotional stuff that came up during our visit. I was exhausted, so I decided to give myself some space before reaching out again. I went back to teaching yoga classes. I tried to get on a normal writing schedule. I hung out with friends and engaged in some serious self-care. And gradually, I remembered that this is the life I chose. I am the person I’ve chosen to be, and I really, really like it. I have a good life full of people I love who love me back, who treat me with respect, who inspire, challenge and accept me. I made this life myself, and I’m proud of it. But it’s not for my parents to put up on their fridge. It’s for me.

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Actual Marriage Advice from an Actual Married Lady

As a happily married lady with a slightly less than typical approach to relationships, I’ve decided that the world needs my relationship advice. Women my age grew up with the idea that we can support ourselves and we don’t need a man to take care of us, and yet weddings are more commercialized and hyped up than ever thanks to reality TV and good old fashioned marketing.

So, for anyone looking for confirmation that they’re with the right person or who feels lost in the relationship ocean, here are my 7 Signs You’re With the Right Person.

  1. He gets your brand of crazy. Everyone is a little bit nuts, even you. Don’t fool yourself. The more you resist this truth, the more delusional you inevitably are. A good partner understands and accepts this about you but is also willing to call you on your bullshit when you’re being crazy.
  2. You don’t have everything in common. Having things in common is easy and comfortable, but it’s more fun when you have some significant differences. My husband and I have very different taste in books, movies and music, and our areas of expertise are practically opposites. We constantly introduce each other to new things, and it makes our life together more fun.
  3. You have the important stuff in common. You agree on whether or not your theoretical children should be baptized and how to deal with two families for the holidays. You probably agree on evolution and global warming. Trust me: if you and your partner disagree on whether evolution is a legitimate thing, you’re going to have some really mind-numbing arguments in your future.
  4. You really want him/her to be happy and vice versa. You find yourself sincerely concerned for your partner’s wellbeing. You may not be into the 50s housewife thing (I’m not!) but something about seeing this person happy just makes the world feel right to you. AND you get the same in return. A life partner who loves to see you smile is sure to bring out the best in you.
  5. You fight well. All couples fight, even happy ones, and if you think your relationship is an exception, take a good hard look at what feelings you’re stuffing. A sign of a healthy relationship is that you can disagree, and yes, you can even get royally pissed at each other. This is OK because you are both (a) human beings with emotions and (b) adults who are capable of both controlling themselves in moments of anger and apologizing when needed. And I mean sincerely apologizing. I’m not talking about doing something mean, buying chocolates, then doing it again. That’s different, and it’s called abuse. But fighting occasionally is a part of life, and if you handle it lovingly, you can actually learn from it.
  6. You inspire each other. Maybe some people just want a partner who will maintain the status quo with them, but I find the status quo absolutely depressing. One of the greatest assets in my marriage is the epic sense of possibility I have when I’m with my husband, both in terms of what we can do together and the ways we can sport each other to be our best.
  7. You giggle together. Maybe you lay in bed making fart jokes together or gossiping or just being absurd. It doesn’t matter what you laugh about as long as you bring each other joy.

When I got engaged, I had an absolute meltdown over the fear that by getting married, I might be giving up some essential part of myself, and the only way to regain my grip on sanity was to remember that my then fiance was the same person I’d always loved and that the only thing that was changing between us was a piece of paper. Ok, and some familial expectations, but we can talk later about how I feel about other people’s expectations.

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This Just In

Getting married doesn’t make you some kind of superstar. You’re not the prettiest girl in the world. No one is.

Your wedding is not going to be the greatest day of your life. If this is the day you’ve been looking forward to since childhood and you truly feel it’s all going to be “happily ever after” from here on out, I don’t wanna rain on your parade, but I think you need a reality check before you take one step further.

Your prince charming is going to piss you off. You’re going to have to clean up leaky pipes in the basement together. You will fight about money. You will wonder if he understands you. You will both gain weight. You will sometimes not feel like having sex. You will fantasize about other people. You will wish you hadn’t spent so much on that dress.

I’m saying this as a happily married woman who had a pretty rad wedding, but I just feel the need to get this all out there.

No one will remember your wedding but you and your very close loved ones. No one cares what the cake looks like. No one cares what invitations you choose. And if you plan an elaborate choreographed routine that your whole wedding party has to memorize and perform for your guests, it might make you internet famous for a minute, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy for the rest of your life.

On the other hand, if you pitch fits and scream at people, everyone will remember, and not in a kind way. I don’t care how cute or famous or hormonal you may be. If the words “you’re ruining everything” come out of your mouth, you should be smacked because whoever you’re yelling at and whatever they may be doing, they are not in fact ruining everything. They are perhaps irritating you and probably forcing you to acknowledge the fact that you are not a princess and your life is not a Disney movie. Good for them.

Anyway, I’m not trying to crush your dreams of having a fairytale wedding, except I totally am. Your wedding is not the best day of your life, ok? I mean, if you do it right, it can be really fun and amazing, but first you should let go of all the ridiculous expectations and quit acting like you’re some kind of reality TV star. No one likes those people.

And as for making the marriage last? I don’t know for sure, but I bet it has something to do with thinking more about the person you’re about to marry than the dress you’ll wear.

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