Edited to Add: Obviously I don’t blame men, but wonder about the societal norms and pressure put on young men to party, have fun and settle down much, much later (late twenties/early thirties). I asked my husband tonight why he wanted to wait so long before we had kids and he said, “Because I thought that was the way things were supposed be done.” I also asked if he regretted not starting earlier and he said yes.
Both my kids are sick, and I haven’t slept in about 48 hours which probably explains why I am willing to tackle such weighty topics. Blaaaame the sleep sleep sleep deprivation.
Peggy Orenstein wrote a fantastic memoir about her experience dealing with infertility called “Waiting for Daisy”. It was the only good read I found out there that spoke to me when I was enduring the crappy turbulence of IVF. (I did NOT enjoy “A Few Good Eggs” and Melissa Ford’s book “Navigating the Land of IF” had not come out yet.)
She just published a new book called “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” that I am eager to read for a few reasons. I have an aversion to the whole Disney princess thing, mostly because I’m afraid the movies have one main underlying message to women: being beautiful is all that matters. Yet my daughter is drawn to all things girly and pink and she calls herself a princess. (I have never even uttered that word ALOUD since she has been born.) I have been trying to channel these urges into books like Madeline and even Fancy Nancy. Anything but Sleeping Beauty. I’d like to try to raise her to be a strong, assertive, responsible and kind woman, not a princess. Obviously feminism plays into these goals.
I consider myself a feminist. I worked many years in a demanding job, and I certainly believe in equal pay for equal work. Yet the truth is our best years of fertility are in our 20s. This is why Runny Yolk’s essay caught my eye: she blames feminism as she struggles with her own infertility. It’s a compelling read.
You know what? I blame MEN. Why are all guys such commitment-phobic, fancy-free, don’t-tie-me-down JERKS in their 20s? Or, ahem, the ones, you know, I met during that time. Even Darcy, my husband, that paragon of men, put off our own family-building for four years until he was ready.
I think a re-education of men is called for. Let’s stop targeting women with these scare-tastic campaigns about their eggs. The truth is mens’ sperm have more problems as they grow older, too. Who knows this? Not very many men.
What does this have to do with Peggy Orenstein’s book? (And boy, did this end up being a RANT!) Maybe the answer is to encourage my adorable little son to realize that his peak fertility years are in his 20s, and he shouldn’t be a jerk to women, and maybe even he should start searching for “the one” in his early twenties. Maybe he’ll tell his friends and then my daughter will meet a wonderful man in her twenties. I’m also going to try to teach him to value more than physical appearance when it comes to choosing his mate.
Imagining my son as a thoughtful, caring husband to a wonderful woman makes me happy. Am I making a nuanced situation too simplistic? Talk to me…