Fall in Love, Have Babies, Get Married…Wait, What?
The inner workings of the universe are hilarious and utterly fucked up. This girl, who decided she hated God at 15, asked her father to get her “tubes tied” for her 18th birthday, this girl whose favorite Dead Kennedys song was “I Kill Children”—THIS GIRL—had a baby. A baby boy! A special, magical baby boy with beaming blue eyes and hair as white as the sun.
Growing up, I never saw myself as the type to become an unwed mother at 23. I thought of it as a bad thing, a weakness. I was taught to think of it that way. Get married, and then have babies. I didn’t want to get married. I didn’t want to do either one, really. I remember being on the playground under the monkey bars, saying, “I never want to have a baby.” I wanted to be a journalist for National Geographic. I wanted to live in a remote land with indigenous peoples for three years and write a big cover story about it; I wanted to be a makeup artist; I wanted to own a restaurant; I wanted to be a songwriter (no time to go into the correlation between my current life situations, today’s american teen girl culture, and the fact that I never fully pursued these dreams); I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Never a mother—definitely not a stay-at-home mother.
What a freaking horror story!
Don’t get me wrong, being a mom is hard. So hard. So, unbelievably hard. Not only do you have to be pregnant, you have to push it out. Then you have to feed it. And keep it safe. And that’s as easy as it gets. I repeat, “THE EASIEST.” You also have to remember to take care of yourself mentally and physically and try to keep from going completely insane over the fact that you will never get to pee alone again; you will never get to just leave the house whenever you want; you’ll never be able to go anywhere without calculating how long it’s been since this tiny human ate. You will now spend entirely too much energy keeping a mental calendar of how many times someone pooped in a single day.
I kind of had a feeling I was pregnant before I even took the test. I was always great at taking tests. Out of paranoid terror I had taken dozens of pregnancy tests before this one, but this time there was no scared rush to the pharmacy, no peeing on a strip days before my period was even due. I was definitely 8 days late and it was Halloween and I was wearing a white bodysuit and looking terrible in it. I felt like people were looking at me differently. They knew I was late. They knew I was pregnant. I didn’t even know, but they knew. Jimmy knew, too. He smiled and grabbed my frozen hands and said, “We are so lucky.”
We thought we should get married. All the facts added up: we’d been together for over three years, we lived together, we were pregnant, and we were in love. His Catholic guilt even kicked in and we went to church. We talked to the Monsignor. We were going to get married next spring, or maybe late summer would be better—you know, after the baby came. But we would be so tired and wouldn’t want to stress over planning a wedding. Fall makes more sense. Definitely fall.
Time flew by and suddenly I was a non-smoker, non-caffeine-er, non-partier. I think the only thing I didn’t give up was sour skittles and French fries with sweet and sour sauce. (Seriously, though, how could I give that up?) I started taking care of myself: taking long baths, getting full nights’ sleep, eating tons of kale, juicing daily, taking walks. He was taking care of me. We chose natural childbirth and midwives and set up delivery times with Cottontails Cloth Diaper Service. The further along I got in my pregnancy, the less I cared about what band was in town or who had broken up that weekend. Instead, I researched area preschools and watched water birth videos on YouTube. The only song I’d written in months was a lullaby. I hadn’t attended an Omen Art meeting or even thought about drawing anything other than a meditative birth journey labyrinth. I judged a good day at work, not on how productive I was, but on how long I could go without sitting down. And I definitely didn’t spend any time planning a wedding.
I started noticing myself becoming a more positive and sentimental person. I avoided people that always had something bad to say about everyone. I cried during sweet commercials. But at the same time, I became so angry. I was pregnant. I didn’t have to have this baby! I mean we weren’t irresponsible, we had enough money. But I hadn’t even finished college. I hadn’t traveled anywhere outside of North America. I hadn’t tried all the drugs I wanted to try. I never got that all girl band together. I had never lived alone, in my own apartment. I didn’t deserve this baby. I hadn’t prayed for this baby. Unlike many women, I hadn’t tried for many years to get pregnant. It wasn’t in my plans. I’m a Feminist, damn it, and here I am working two days a week, knocked up, with my live-in boyfriend paying all the bills. And now I’ll be the shame of my family, the young unwed mother.
As worldly and liberal as I thought I was, I couldn’t shake my Christian, Southern upbringing.
I couldn’t shake the shame. Why was I suddenly so obsessed with doing everything ‘in order’? As a kid on the playground I had no desire to get married, but suddenly I felt like an idiot because I wasn’t. Isn’t that how life is supposed to be? Fall in love, get married, have babies? I had to make it right. It doesn’t matter if we aren’t ready for marriage. Marriage is commitment!
I don’t know how many times I’ve thought, or screamed, “I gave up everything! My future! My body! Everything!” I did. WE did. But you know what? We created a new life. We have been born again. We are the hero of the story. We made the BIGGEST commitment: to each other, to life, to the future. We sacrificed our lives for the promise of a new one. My life isn’t over because I just had a baby and I’m 24 and I still haven’t started planning a wedding.
My simple IDEA of what a good or fun life is, is over.
I have been charged with a life that is more challenging and alarmingly sweet than I ever would have picked for myself. And, hey, there’s still time to be Indiana Jones. I am only 24.
Chrissy Wise is a part time Stay-at-Home Mom, part time Cook, and full time ice cream lover. She and her full time partner, Jimmy Cousins, live in Highland and spend most nights staring at their best creative work, their son Buzz.