Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Having a Daughter.
I'm nervous about the prospect of having a daughter, because I've studied so much, and I still study, and hopefully turn research to practice, but I am pulled in the direction of family and feel the balance sway in that direction. I don't think there is one best place for women, or one best balance.
I wonder how that will play out for my daughter, and I wonder if I can guide her so that she has an identity of her own and is also able to experience some of the joys I've experienced by being with a loving spouse and maybe having a baby or two. Guiding her and Noah, and being the biggest part of their lives while I can, sways my priorities in unexpected ways. In all the ways that matter, these are indeed the wonder years, but they're wondrous in a very collective way.
The mythology of women "having it all" in our generation raised my expectations of myself. We weren't saying at Wellesley, "I want to focus on my family in my late twenties and thirties"- it wasn't something that 18 years old worried about, it wasn't in our 5 and 10 year plans, and perhaps rightly so. Much of this stuff one cannot control. But it wasn't something we were consciously abandoning, either. We can have it all, but I don't think we can have it all and still sleep. Which is no longer having it all. Or "have it all" and still eat good food or be fully available to our babies. Which is no longer having it all. There's a tension in every member of the family having personal goals and dreams- dreams that pull in different directions.
Not that we get rid of dreams, but we have to choose the timing and direction of our dreams carefully. Men do too, but women's experience of parenting is uniquely physical and all-encompassing, and then there's patriarchy. I'm very encouraged that my dreams and Eug's dreams (and Noah's budding dreams) are not limited to our lifetimes. I'm convinced that God gradually prepares us for stuff, and the timeline is not as super important as it feels at 28. It's a paradigm shift that wasn't entirely natural for me. I've had to make choices, and make choices that allow me to hang out with Noah, Eug and others without thinking about furnishing our house or writing papers or researching the next proposal or charting where refugees live in Cape Town (yes, my work is fun). There's pain associated with those choices- not a bad pain, just a strange tension.
I'm glad I had high expectations, even as I now experience the natural boundaries of a 24 hour day. For my daughter, as for Noah, I hope I can imagine for her a really wonder-filled childhood.