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Unfettered

30 years old is one of those pivotal points in life. Not because one's gotten old, but because there's an expectation that the recklessness of one's 20s has simmered down enough that you can finally turn around and start dishing out 'been there done that's' to the younger crowd.

For a female, you're finally crossing over into real womanhood. There's just one problem -- how it's defined.

The expectation when I was in China was that we were young and flighty, and hardly ready to do anything stupid like "settle down". After I rolled over 25 it came slowly, but I did notice a change beginning. Wedding pictures spattered here and there, emails mentioning buying houses and thinking about having children. I left South America at 29, and gradually I noted Facebook statuses of women I'd been in Chile with who'd decided to stay and get married. Pictures of babies had gotten more frequent from old high school friends.

I had turned 30, and suddenly I had stepped through the looking glass into to a mad world where my marital status and the proper function of my ovaries has just become assumed.

In 2009, we had a stand through a particularly dull orientation to the campus library. As my class (10 females, 1 male) was led to the banks of computers set aside for personal slacking off, the librarian smiled perkily and explained that these machines could be used for "your own email needs -- you know, for letting your husband know what to get from the store".

I know she saw me roll my eyes, because she quickly added on: "Or, uh...your wife".

30 is finally that point where it's less of an abomination to be gay than to be single.

Childlessness is even more a bizarre problem. Saying I didn't want children at 18 was usually met with a patronizing smile that clearly said "oh, you'll change your mind". Saying it at 30, now the smiles have gotten a little more manic, and a particular kind of desperation shows through when they say: "Oh, but you still can!". Or: "Believe me, you'll be so much happier when you're a mother".

Or my all-time favorite: "Aren't you being selfish?"

There seems to be this need in people to convince me that a life of cupcake-baking normalcy could be right around the corner, that sooner or later everyone flips a switch and develops a burning desire for two mortgages in the suburbs, a weekly grocery trip, and a ticket in the divorce lottery.

Some people wouldn't trade their stable lives for anything in the world, and have told me I'll have that sort of conviction one day. But what they don't realize is there's already something I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.

My freedom.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
seamusd
Oct. 8th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
It's a slow generational shift, like continental drift. Childlessness, independence are still reviled in some quarters of society, just like homophobia is still the norm in some places. I think in a lot of ways, the current weird political scene is a reaction to the emergence of a society more accepting of diversity. I know a lot of women who have chosen not to breed; in fact, most of my friends have made that choice. Why must stability be defined as a prison of certain kinds of responsibility (house & kids) instead of as the freedom of doing your own thing (independence & personal happiness)?

Edited at 2010-10-08 01:46 pm (UTC)
wednes
Oct. 8th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Grrr. I so hear you on this. I'm turning 40 this year and have been with H for 11 years. People have expressed their condolences that we are not able to have children. We have never tried, nor wanted to, nor have ever said anything implying that we DID want kids to anyone. I later realized that when I was low on iron, I started taking prenatal vitamins. Apparently someone was playing medicine-cabinet-detective and drew their own conclusions.

It's nice to see you back around. I always enjoy reading your stuff. I'm doing my primary blogging at Dreamwidth now due to some privacy concerns. But I'm still cross posting and reading over here, obviously.
wibbble
Oct. 9th, 2010 12:04 am (UTC)
In many ways it's convenient that star_brow can't have children. Despite being married and having that mortgage (more or less in the suburbs, certainly far from civilisation anyway) I still really don't want children at 30.

And 'no, because I fucking hate kids' is a great response to 'but couldn't you adopt?'.
lunarcamel
Oct. 11th, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)
It's so interesting that you'd post this, because I just turned 29 and have been turning over some of the same ideas. I've been standing in front of the microwave since I was like 10, and in the past three years had begun to question whether I really *didn't* want children, but I think that questioning is based on a fear that not wanting kids makes me even more unboyfriendable than I already am (once a woman says, "I'm a lawyer" there are all these preconceived ideas about how you're a ball-busting bitch who doesn't think men are necessary for anything...dating has not gone well since my JD). And then the other part of it is a secret fear that maybe someday I'll wake up and realize They were right.

But neither of those reasons gels with my reality, which is that I don't see myself as a parent. I'm more and more open to the idea of becoming a foster parent, someday, maybe, but I'm still pretty sure I don't want to have kids.

This just started percolating for me and I was going to let it sit for another few days before tackling it in my own LJ, so sorry for getting started on it on yours. Thanks for provoking those thoughts.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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