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I write about babies a lot

I remember when I ran the plot of my latest full-length play by morethings5. His response was, "That's such a Phoebe story." And the reason for that was that it prominently dealt with issues around babies.

I write a lot of things that have babies in them. Pregnancies, new babies, lost babies. Babies that change things, that very seriously matter. If I ever become famous and get an author page on TV Tropes, this thing about babies will get listed. I didn't realize I did it until recently, but I guess it shouldn't surprise me. Because issues about babies are such a huge thing in my head.

I am a mess of contradicting feelings about them, a miasma of conflicting desires. On one hand... I love them. On at hand, I think they're the most important thing in the world, babies, children, your children. I feel a strong compulsion to be a mother someday. And while not everybody has the urge for children, I feel like if you do have it, it is a singular thing that is not comparable or equivalent to any other need you have in your life.

A baby is never negligible, never an insignificant thing to be disposed of lightly, even when should you decide that pregnancy or parenthood is not for you. While I acknowledge that abortions have to exist for the good of society, and that they can absolutely be the right choice in many situations, the idea of them makes me hurt in my guts. There are childless couples who would KILL for a baby of their own and can't have one, and their pain is enormous. Again, I respect a woman's right to do whatever she feels is appropriate for her own body, but it makes me ache to think that people who want babies can't just connect with women who don't want to keep their babies.

But at the same time... pregnancy terrifies me. Frankly TERRIFIES me. I just have this knowledge in my gut that it would be an awful experience for me, unpleasant at best and completely miserable at worst. I'm already prone to nausea, I would probably have it constantly if I were pregnant. My hips are very narrow, carrying and birthing a baby could just not work. And God forgive me for being so shallow and vain... but I think of what it would do to my body and I just freeze. During it, the thought of being big and ungainly, of taking up so much space, of everything being a gross swollen mess due to the hormones and the physical changes... and after, the stress put on everything by the birth, being bloated or stretched out or sagging or scarred... I shudder. And the body never really comes back. Not for most people, who don't have a dietician and a physical trainer constantly at their disposal. And that scares me more than I can convey.

I feel disgusting and small for caring that much about it. For wanting a baby, but being too vain to want to go through one of the most fundamental experiences of life that's part of it. And there is a season to all things in life, nobody gets to be beautiful forever-- especially if its my kind of beauty which is of the particularly ephemeral sort. I am fortunate that things worked out for me in such a way as I got to experience what it's like to be that lean and strong and firm kind of beautiful for a while. But still, the thought of losing it for inevitable reasons is hard enough without thinking that pregnancy might make it hit all the harder.

People have said I'm a prime candidate for adoption. I don't want to be pregnant, and I couldn't give a damn about biological connection to my baby. Don't care the lineage, the gender, the color. Just want a baby. But I get scared to think of that because it's so difficult to adopt. Expensive, so vastly advantageous to the rich, and often heartbreaking since you could for any number of reasons lose the right to the child before the adoption is legally finalized. Again, no moral condemnation of abortion here, but if it came down to my needing to BEG some woman to please let me adopt her baby instead of abort it, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Of course, if pregnancy seems so terrible to me, I can't say I don't understand why somebody would rather abort than go through it even if they don't have to keep the baby.

But still... but still... I can't shake that part of me that says that your child is too important. The Most Important. And if you have to go through painful difficult undesirable things for the sake of your child, that's part of what it is to be a parent. The love and responsibility that is so strong that you sacrifice your well being for theirs. That notion feels right to me in my guts. Because that is what grows out of the nature of the bond between parent and child.

Here is what makes me believe in that bond. It leads into my other fear related to having a baby-- the fear that one's self is subsumed into it. How often do we hear about parents-- usually mothers --who's entire life revolves around their children? That they lose their own interests and even their personality to being Mommy? That is chilling to me. I would HATE that. As much compulsion as I feel toward being a mother, that seems awful and terrifying to me. But I would want to be a good parent-- to be the kind of parent that is everything their child needs. I am a pretty self-absorbed person. Am I too selfish a person to be as selfless as that would require? Am I too selfish to be happy making the shift that motherhood would require?

And yet. And yet. This comes back to the thing that makes me believe in the enormous power of that parent child bond. As much as kids take over their parents lives-- as much as they demand and necessitate and impose on their parents-- their parents LOVE THEM. Are madly, crazily, IN LOVE WITH THEM. Would do ANYTHING for them, WOULD DIE for them. No matter how much of a pain having kids is, it is rare indeed to find a parent who doesn't love their kids more than anything.

That gives me hope. That maybe I can be a parent, despite my vanity and selfishness. That my love for them would be greater than my love for myself. And that I don't have to choose between being a miserable parent and having that part of me go unfulfilled.

I keep taking about "in my guts." That's where my desire to someday be a mother comes from. And so that's where a lot of my feelings around children come from. Maybe they're not totally reasonable or fair from an intellectual standpoint. But I can't shake them.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 26th, 2013 06:51 pm (UTC)
Grrrrrrl, we should talk
I feel all the same concerns as you. I mean, I don't plan on ever being pregnant, and I do think about adopting, but through the foster care system [because okay I have a whole rant here about how privileged people talk about the costs of adopting while poor people foster kids and adopt them through the foster care system and how that dichotomy is super screwed up but I won't rant here oh whoops too late]. Sometimes I think that part of the reason I don't want to adopt is because I'm scared of what it would do to my body, but you know what? So flipping what? Why is it wrong to be scared of having a parasitic lifeform change the shape of the skin sack I live in permanently? It shouldn't be wrong to be afraid of that. It just shouldn't.

When I think about foster to adopting, though, I also get scared about getting sucked into my child's life. On the one hand, Sam and I are starting to get to that age where a bunch of our friends have children (Sam is 3 years older than I am and she started college 2 days after her 17th birthday so she's got a bunch of older friends) and I'm seeing some of them retain a lot of their personality/hobbies. One of our friends is a singer and voice teacher and knitter, and her daughter is just over a year old, and she still goes out to parties and sings professionally and teaches voice and knits, and her husband works full-time. Sometimes these things work out.

But I know I'm too selfish for that right now. I think, like, maybe one day I'll wake up and I'll be like "okay. I'm ready to have no life, at least for several years." But that day is not today. Another thing that's awesome about the foster care system is that since most of the kids are significantly older, I could adopt a 10-year-old who really wants and needs a home, and that means that I would be able to be SUPER MATURE before child rearing and stuff.

Anyway, I'm all over talking about this more if you want, but my point is, I super feel you and I don't think you're selfish. Go easy on yourself. :)

Jun. 26th, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
In the meantime, you can borrow mine sometimes to get your fix in.
Jun. 27th, 2013 02:06 am (UTC)
An excellent idea. I do like that boy quite a bit. :-)
Jun. 27th, 2013 02:38 am (UTC)
This is fascinating, because it comes from such a totally different perspective from my own. I cannot imagine caring about my appearance like this. I never doubted that I wanted at least one child. The biological connection with my child is incredibly important to me. It never occurred to me that I would lose myself in parenting. So, yeah, different.

Pregnancy, adoption, parenting--they're all incredibly personal experiences that run a wide gamut. I suspect that you will surprise yourself--that something that seemed incredibly important turned out to be no big deal, or vice versa--and also that you are probably right about at least some of this stuff. In any case, it's good to figure out what you think and recognize what you feel.
Jun. 27th, 2013 03:38 am (UTC)
I doubt you meant it this way, but "I suspect you'll change your mind" is exceptionally grating to people (primarily women) who have opinions regarding children that don't fit with the norm. What makes you think that what Phoebe hasn't thought long and hard about this and came to a real understanding of her feelings on the matter? Would you have said this to someone who in the end agreed with you?
Jun. 27th, 2013 03:45 am (UTC)
I didn't say that. I would not say that. Please re-read my comment.
Jun. 27th, 2013 03:50 am (UTC)
"I suspect that you will surprise yourself--that something that seemed incredibly important turned out to be no big deal, or vice versa..."

You allowed afterward that some of her feelings might be fixed, but you definitely said here that you expected some to change, and my question is, on what basis do you doubt her current conclusions?
Jun. 27th, 2013 04:00 am (UTC)
That is very different from changing her mind, at least to me. She is very clear above that she has not reached any conclusions, so the only "change" would be reaching one. Any conclusion she reaches is her business and her right. I do not think all people should be parents and I recognize that many people feel a great deal of pressure in one direction or another and would not wish to add to that.

As I said, I suspect that something in the whole process will surprise her. She might realize that something else in her life fulfills what now seems like a drive to parent. She might find that the whole question becomes less important over time, or that the answer suddenly becomes crystal clear. She might become pregnant and have a great and easy pregnancy. She might have terrible post-partum depression and never experience the parenting bond in the way she currently imagines it. She might find that parenting is just less of a big deal than it seems--or that it does absorb her completely and that turns out to be splendid. I could go on all night, but all of it would be entirely speculative. I think that there is no way for her to know until she reaches a decision point and while I support exploring her thoughts and feelings at this moment, I think that whatever course she takes, she will find surprises along the way and I think that being open to uncertainty and surprise is a strength in life, regardless of one's choices.
Jun. 27th, 2013 10:48 am (UTC)
Thank you. I think this is very well said. I'm much more ambivalent about having kids, and, given my situation, probably most likely to just never do so. However, I do love children, and feel that more intelligent, stable people need to be having kids. I often feel guilty about how selfish my reasons for not breeding are: I'm frankly terrified of pregnancy and the first year. I'm terrified about permanent physical damage to my body. I'm terrified about feeling physically trapped in a body that doesn't just do whatever I want it to. The appearance aspects bother me less, but the functional parts terrify me.

I don't particularly care for babies, and I need to be doing things or I go crazy. The only way I could even imagine it is with a partner who was going to become the primary parent, because I know I could never handle staying home with a child, even for the first 15 months until child-care stops being ridiculously expensive. I love kids, but mostly I've decided that I'm the sort of person who is better off taking care of other people's children.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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April 2017


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