Almost every woman I know, including myself, does it. We swallow a tiny little pill each day. A tiny little pill that does drastic things to our bodies.
Or rather, it has one, huge, drastic effect on our bodies. This magic pill can prevent us from getting pregnant. For years and years and years, if we take it correctly and don’t happen to be in the 2% for which it can sometimes fail.
In turn, The Pill has had an immense impact on our lives.
In many ways, this impact has been discussed since the moment The Pill became available.
Women can now better control their own bodies. Their own destinies.
We have more choices now.
We don’t have to rely on men or on physical, ‘in the moment’ devices to prevent pregnancy. It is in OUR hands.
People talked about the freedom women have because of The Pill. The power. The control. The independence.
But did we take it too far?
There was an article in this week’s New York Magazine, ‘Waking Up From The Pill‘, by Vanessa Grigoriadis. It talks about, shall we say, ‘The After Effects’ of the changes The Pill made in our society. Sure, women are now building their careers first, waiting to get married and certainly waiting longer to have children. Anyone, especially in our larger cities, could tell you that. But what people aren’t talking as much about and definitely aren’t overtly connecting to The Pill, is the huge increase in the number of women struggling to have children, using IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) or other fertility aids and processes once they decide to have kids in their late 30′s or 40′s.
Let me tell you, I for one, avoid this topic like the plague. Personally, it feels like walking through a land mine. Almost all of my friends and family waited, or are still waiting, to have children. My friends who have kids are all between 5 and 17 years older than I am. My friends who don’t yet have kids (or who don’t ever want to) are doing fabulous things like getting their PhDs, reaching crazy heights in their law firms, editing for the biggest fashion designers or magazines in the world, starting companies, or at the very least, living it up and fully enjoying life without the responsibility of a mini-me or two running around. And the truth is, even though my personal choice was to start having kids ‘young’ (I was 25 when I got pregnant with my first), I totally get it. I can completely comprehend wanting to build up a career, travel more, party more, and just generally do a little more of everything before jumping into this whole parenting thing.
However, I sometimes feel like I am not allowed to speak about this topic because people might get offended. More importantly, people closest to me might get offended. So I sit here and listen to everyone discuss why they are waiting (i.e. the opposite choice than the one we made). I listen to people tell me all of the benefits of waiting. Why it is what they want and what they are choosing.
I even listen as people in front of me and to me say, “And that’s why I don’t want kids!” Well, thank you. That’s feels so…kind and thoughtful. Warm and fuzzy.
And then if someone asks why (or perhaps in their head it is more like, “Why in the Hell?!?…”) we started our family when we did, I go with nice, easy to swallow (Puns are always intentional) answers like, “We had just been dating for so long, so…,” or the easiest to swallow, “It just happened.” or even, sometimes, “Well, you know, I didn’t have a career that I was passionate about and didn’t really have anything else to do with my life, so I figured, What the heck!.”
Alright, I have never said the last one (namely because I am passionate about urban public education) but I happen to know it is what some people think about those who choose to do Babies First, Career Second.
I never, ever have the guts to give a complete and honest answer when someone asks me why we already have two kids by the age of 29.
So, I was intrigued by the title of this article and by the time I finished reading it I was thankful. Thankful because Grigoriadis does something that I have not had the courage, nor grace, to do. This is a touchy topic. It is also a bit of a new situation. And I feel muzzled, personally, because our choice was different than so many people we care about. And I mean, in essence, it can always be tricky to explain a personal choice if it is different than the person to which you are speaking, right? Because if you made different decisions you obviously have different feelings, philosophies and priorities surrounding that subject.
How do you explain why you live how you live without offending someone who lives differently?
Therein lies the bigger question and reality here.
Only this topic and ‘life choice’ is a doozy. We are talking about creating a family. Bringing a life into this world. Feelings can get hurt. Relationships ruined. Easily.
So, let me take a moment to say to anyone reading this who knows me personally: I fully respect your choices. I support you and I care about you. This post is not attempting to say that it is better to have children earlier, it is attempting to acknowledge that I have felt as though I am not allowed to speak about our choice. Reading this article made me feel like maybe this is a topic that can become a dialogue not only in the media, but among friends.
At the very least maybe we can all agree on the fact that the final scenario the magazine discusses is a little unsettling as a concept. That has to be some common ground.
*The teacher in me says “Here’s a link if you want to learn more!” I’m not the author of the article(s) below, but it’s still decent writing, I guess… I mean, if you like writing that isn’t mine.*
New York Magazine, ‘Waking Up From The Pill‘, by Vanessa Grigoriadis
CNN Opinion, ‘What The Pill Did,’ by Various Contributors