It is important for us to share now more than ever. Sharing deep, personal feelings may not float everyone’s boat, but it connects us in a way that nothing else in the world ever can. When we are vulnerable, we may feel we are showing weakness, but others will perceive it as courage and strength. I learned this and more from a fantastic blog post about positive psychology called The Beauty of Being Vulnerable.
It made me realize that the best feedback I’ve gotten on this blog so far has taken place in private conversations. It’s been the family and friends who have pulled me aside and private messaged me to tell me that something I wrote resonated with them. And the something has always been a deeply personal, not-so-brilliant, cold-hard-truth about my life. Something I wasn’t proud of.
We Are All Black Sheep
People think they are alone, because they don’t speak up about whatever it is that makes them feel they are different. But the thing is – no one else is speaking up either.
There are herds of black sheep out there.
That’s why today I am writing myself once again into a corner where I am vulnerable. Because gold millennials seek to make a positive impact, and I don’t find much value in withholding. The things we most desperately need to talk about are the things no one is saying yet. We aren’t saying them yet because no one is saying them, so no one has any idea that everyone else feels the same way. Gold Millennial is my place to shout it from the rooftops: let’s say them now.
Dare to cross the line. It’s imaginary anyway. The grass may not be greener, but I’m always happier on the other side.
A prevailing thought that runs through my mind these days is that so many women have a biological need to have babies, yet so many feel restricted by society or by husbands. I hear the same four justifications. “It isn’t a good time.” Or, “one is all we can afford.” Or, “one is all we can handle.” Or, “two is enough.” I’ve read this in books and blogs. I’ve heard it on youtube and other media. Some have talked with me about this. In others I just see it.
I see the silent sadness in the background of these women’s lives. I see it in their Facebook posts talking about mundane things that have nothing to do with it. I am normally completely oblivious to others’ emotions. I don’t empathize naturally. But I see this. I know how you suffer.
We Are All in Denial
I don’t think it’s fair that we should have to deny ourselves for our entire lives in this way. For whose sake? Who are we sparing?
After I had my second daughter, we “had to” stop having kids. I was content at first, but when she was about 2 I started feeling like I needed to have another baby. She is 6 now. For years I felt like I was telling my body “NO.” And for years it felt so wrong.
For years I meditated on this, and I just kept landing back at the same answer – I still just wanted to have a baby.
I tried to fill the void in my life with the relentless pursuit of a career. I tried to fill it with the two children I already have. I gave them my time and energy and love and attention. I took them to every storytime til they were way too old to go, made them heart shaped pancakes and bacon and eggs and cream of wheat even on our hectic school mornings, read them bedtime stories every evening, and rubbed their little bellies until their breath slowed and their eyelids fluttered closed every night.
But it was never enough. I already have two beautiful children – that’s not what this is about.
There was no denying it. I could either live the rest of my life denying my body and my heart the only thing it really wanted, or I could surrender to my nature, to the divinity that is in me, as it is in all women, and honor it.
We have a sacred power to create, grow, and birth new life. For awhile I was able to push down my urges, focus on other things, and pretend it didn’t matter that much to me. But it wasn’t long before I found out how utterly unhappy I was.
Whenever I saw another pregnant belly, even on my closest friends, I felt sad. Of course, exploring this through the lens of emotional intelligence reveals fine lines of jealousy, resentment, and bitterness. It is not enough to say I was “sad.” There was a great depth of feeling in that pit. Every time, I had to swim through it to get to the other side where I could come up for air and eek out a “Congratulations!”
As hard as I worked, a career wasn’t going to reclaim what I was missing. Neither would all the spiritual practice and patience in the world. There was only one cure. Only one path to my peace. I knew I wanted a baby, but I didn’t know just how happy it was going to make me to have one. I haven’t had my baby yet, but I am already happier than I have been in a long time.
I know I am not the only woman who feels this. Who knows this in her bones.
I’m not saying we should all just go make babies right now, but… For some reason I just get the scene from Storks with all the decades-old letters being redeemed for babies being made in the baby factory and… would it really be that bad?
“It’s Not a Good Time.”
Well, as we’ve already discussed, it’s never a good time to have a baby. If you’re waiting for the relationship to have all its kinks worked out, the finances to be in order, the household to be more put together… you’re essentially waiting for life to be perfect. And let’s face it. That ain’t ever gonna happen baby.
“We Can’t Afford It.”
We ALL have money for what we want to spend it on. We always do. If we don’t literally “have” it, we find a way to get it. We always make shit happen when we REALLY want it.
Really want AirPods? We put them on the Christmas wishlist and ask the whole family to chip in. Or you know, we put it on the credit card. Most of America is living like kings on credit and tomorrow. And saying that they can’t afford to have a child, or more children. Am I alone in finding this somewhat hypocritical?
Really want to attend that course? You’re going to apply for every scholarship and grant under the sun. You’ll take out loans if you have to. Really want to go on that once-in-a-lifetime family reunion vacation? You’ll find a way to make it happen. You’ll pack bread and peanut butter and warm bottled water and drive your ass to your destination. Never been to a wedding in your life because it was always “too expensive” to go? It’ll take a natural disaster to stop you from attending the next one. It’s like my mom says, “we have time for what we make time for.” And we have money for what we really want to buy.
For those of you who won’t be convinced by my linguistic magic tricks, I’ll take a more logical approach. Large families around the world have been managing their households on tiny budgets. It is simply a choice – to live a certain way. It may not be super comfortable, but there’s a whole lotta love in the house. A local family in Monument, CO proves how this is more than possible with a little faith and a whole lot of couponing, budgeting, and hand-me-downs in Love in the House: Filling Your Home With the Greatest Commandment.
It costs money to breathe in this world. We all need it, and we all need to spend it. I’m not trying to say that every person with credit card debt has been shopping for superfluous luxuries. On the contrary, most of us live beyond our means because we needed to buy a car to drive to work. Because we needed to pay the electric bill. Because we needed to feed our families. It is a strange, sad world we all live in.
What I am trying to say is that we all have debt no matter what we do with our lives, so there is no escaping it. None of us can even afford to breathe anymore, but we’re doing it anyway. So “we can’t afford it” just boils down to another lame excuse in my book.
“One Is All We Can Handle.”
I see this one a lot in the families with just one child whose mother lavishes all her time and energy and money on him. I love what dedicated, loving mothers these women are. In so many of them, I see the sadness in their eyes. I hear the sadness in their stories. The unspoken longing.
“One is all we can handle.” is a lame excuse in all of these situations. The parents of these families are the most dedicated parents I know. They are amazing parents. Their kid might be a more challenging child than most, or than my own two put together. I have no idea. I’m not here to judge. I am here to observe. And what I see is how much love they have for their single child. It is more than enough.
“Two Is Enough.”
This was the excuse my husband gave me for years. And I have the most trouble with this one because part of me feels guilty and spoiled for wanting to have more children. I already have two.
So many women out there can’t have their second, or can’t even have one. And there are too many more reasons why those women can’t even have one – reasons out of our control here on Earth. So I know a lot of you reading this right now are thinking the same angry thoughts towards me I had towards myself: why couldn’t I just be grateful that I have two lovely children and get the silly idea of more out of my mind?
I couldn’t for one really powerful, unavoidable reason. There is a line here I am going to cross because it’s 2018 and I’m kind a surprised we haven’t crossed it yet. I’m going to be brave and say what I know every woman reading this already knows intimately, whether she knows she knows it or not.
“Two is enough” doesn’t even count as an excuse or reason because it doesn’t even come close to touching the real heart of the matter. A woman’s desire to have another baby isn’t predicated upon how many children she’s had before. It is singular. It stands alone. The new person I am growing in my womb now is not any more or less perfect, more or less loved, or more or less affordable than its older sisters. It is its own being, happening in its own time.
I am letting go of any guilt I could possibly be holding onto over “talking my husband into a third” because I’ve come to understand that the love I harbor for my future child/children cannot be contained. It is greater than my self. It is beyond me and exists whether I act on it or not. It is a sacred, divine aspect of my womanhood, and I am not going to be ashamed of it any longer.
Children bring so much love and joy into our lives. I often catch myself wondering why it is such a bad thing to want more love in our lives. Well I’m not going to wonder anymore. I know now that it’s not a bad thing; it’s not a feeling we should feel like we have to hide.
This poem I wrote when I was 20 pretty much sums up how I feel about baby-making. Two babies and ten years later, I guess my perspective hasn’t really changed all that much.
A Baby Is
a baby is HOPE
a baby is always and never before
a baby is a representation of
something to live for because it needs you.
something to love
something to be for
something that will be
something that we don’t remember
a baby is love
was made of love, from love, for love, by
will love you because it doesn’t know (how to hate)
a baby is cute and cuddly
but you can’t squeeze it like a teddy bear
because it will break.
Like all young things
who need their mothers and somewhere
to grow. and things to squeeze like,
teddy bears and your thumb.
a baby is melting my heart
when it laughs
when it cries
when it looks at me
when it looks away
because it sees everything, with new eyes.
Why don’t we hear more poems about
I really like babies.
I want a baby.
I want to stay up all night and feel like shit
for my baby.
I want to experience and remember
I want to hold my baby inside
I want to hold my baby outside,
in my arms, til they ache
but I won’t let go, until I have to.
a baby will be the thing I cherish most in my life
BECAUSE A BABY IS LIFE
and life is worth everything.
a baby is possibility.
GODDAMMIT I HATE THIS WORLD IN WHICH I CANNOT HAVE A BABY
will be shamed for having a baby
‘TIL I’M FUCKING 35.
People say you have to live your own life,
but I will not be truly living until I give birth
*** *** ***
I wonder if there’s a little foreshadowing in this poem, since I wrote it 14 months before I got pregnant with my first daughter. It’s been so many years since then, I forget. Time erodes the details of our memories so subtly, until they become monuments of change we no longer recognize. But in this poem how I felt was immortalized. I felt this so deeply, and I feel it so deeply still. It’s how I know that other women feel it too.
It is important to me that we keep saying these words that aren’t being spoken. And I think it’s important to you too. I know I’ve said a few things in this blog post that might not be popular, but that’s kind of what we’re all about here.
It’s what we’re about and it’s what we’re actively doing. Because we don’t just talk about changing the world, we do it. I always hated that song – waiting on the world to change. Sorry, John Mayer. I guess waiting’s just not my style. I’ll be the first to change. The world can catch up.
As always I’d really like to hear from you about your experience and thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to comment your own words, share my words, and keep spreading all the good words ❤