When I was little, I used to read the cartoon Cathy. As a child, I thought it was funny. Now just glancing in Cathy’s direction in the comic strip section causes some kind of Pavlovian response where I start hyperventilating and can’t finish the comic. I didn’t realize that she was preparing me for a lifetime of anxiety and Xanax. Parents, don’t let your kids read Cathy.
In at least one strip, Cathy starts screaming about her biological clock. So at a young age, I learned that women have this time where their bodies turn into a Captain Hook vs. the Crocodile scenario where it starts ticking and begins driving them mad. Note that this was not the technical definition I received (although I’m sure my mom held back), but it was around the same time I was watching Hook so I put two and two together. Kids remember things like that. Think about it, every time he’s not searching for Peter Pan (eternal youth), he’s trying to avoid that crocodile that took his hand.
It made sense. I went to school everyday, and all the kids there came from somewhere. For all I knew, most of them were clock babies. Was everyone a clock baby?
In a discussion board online, someone asked, “When did you realize you were an adult?” My favorite response was, “When my friends started having kids on purpose.”
My understanding of The Clock, even now, is that it happens around or nearing the last of your child-bearing years. According to Wikipedia, “A woman’s fertility peaks in the early and mid twenties, after which it starts to decline, with advanced maternal age causing an increased risk of female infertility. This is popularly referred to as a woman’s ‘biological clock.’ ”I have trouble differentiating TBC from regular evolutionary hormonal reaction to kids. My understanding from most women when the topic of children arises is that babies are wonderful and they have cute clothes and they are the most amazing creatures. Mind you, most of these people have kids and want you to join the club so they don’t have to go through it alone. Yes, someone told me this.
Yet when I think of children, I think of sleepless nights, rancid/exploding diapers, crying to the point of giving me a migraine, ruining all of our things, asking too many questions (see video below), not being able to sleep/vomit/poop/pee in peace (or have the flu), and financial destitution that makes our current living situation look like some kind of celebrity dream.
Our female bodies strike me as odd in comparison to our societal expectations. Your body says that anywhere from 10-16, “All right, your hardware is installed. Good luck surviving every month not trying to kill people. Go out there and make me proud!” Unless you’re completely flat-chested/acne ridden/dorky-glasses-wearing like I was, in which case, Nature is making you wait but still laughing at you each month. Seriously, my friend in retrospect called me “Bottle Cap” Weird Button. Not a good feeling.
I felt this maternal pull early. Other people had kids first, I went through college and dated a bunch of guys, and I wised up to the idea. I’m not against it, I just learned so much about it that it scared me. Clearly, my energetic/already sleepless/more in shape body was ready earlier. However, I’m more emotionally and (comparatively speaking) financially ready to have a child the older I get. I cry a hell of a lot less now for no reason than I did in my late teens/early 20’s. There’s still no guarantee that means I’ll ever be ready.
There are multitudes of articles that tell us we don’t have to have kids, encourage us not to have kids, and a million mommy blogs and articles telling us why we should.
I’m also aware that I can never precipitate my reaction to a pregnant woman and her babies/kids. Half the time I am thrilled and giddy at an adorable face or swollen baby belly, the other I am thinking in hyper drive of running away to my kid-free house to enjoy my lack of morning sickness and drink alcohol if I feel like it.
And then, there’s this.