In recent months, ever since I hit the big 2-5, my biological clock has started to tick a little bit louder. It is strange and frankly it makes me feel a bit icky from time to time. I have always seen myself as a very liberated woman. My feminism defines me professionally, politically, and personally. I know better than to see my worth as dependent on motherhood. And yet…I really, really, super duper want a baby.
As my dissertation comes closer to an ending, my relationship prospects look continually bleaker, and my desire to be a mother ramps up, I have started to think about how I might live alternatives to the traditional narrative of motherhood. I have contemplated several scenarios. The main two being these: (A) Co-parenting with a single gay man or a gay couple or (B) purchasing an anonymously “donated” vile of genetic material and being knocked-up by a stranger.
While both of these plans have their pluses and minuses, the fact is that both family creation strategies would forever and always mark me as outside the mainstream paradigm of family life. Now, as a lifelong rebel and the daughter of a hippy mama, I know that shouldn’t bother me in the least; however, just like my desire to have a baby in the first place, I am finding out that nothing is as simple as it first appears. As I contemplate non-traditional motherhood, I am starting the fear losing my ability to be “normal.”
As a white, middle-class, heterosexual, woman with a university education and a U.S. passport, I have experienced a lot of privilege in my life. Unlike queer people, people of colour, and others, I have always had the option of being mainstream. My counterculture identity is something I have chosen, not something that has been thrust upon me. As much as I have embraced being “offbeat,” I have also always known I could cast off the mantel of offbeat-ness at will. I have always had the option open to me to retreat back to a life that I would never have to defend. Now, I am contemplating a decision that would forever block up my escape route, and it scares the shit out of me.
I have long identified as “culturally queer.” My father and I had a strained relationship from as far back as I can remember until about last week. My uncle Joe, in all his queen-y glory, stepped in and was the father my dad couldn’t always be. My best friends have always been drawn primarily from the many shades of the queer rainbow. I have been to Pride every year of my life! And through it all, I still guarded my heterosexual privilege like a rare jewel. Even as I chided girls who talked about their “gay friends” (my friends are just my friends and putting a person’s sexual identity at the heart of your description of him or her is gentile bigotry), maybe at some level I was still the nice, liberal lady willing to fight for “the gays.” I never contemplated that my life could become awful queer in its own right.
So here I stand, with a half (well, maybe not half) way written dissertation, a Saturday night booked up with watching Eurovision Finals, and an empty womb. As I think more and more about the options open to me, I am increasingly convinced that the person you are romantically attached to at any given moment may not necessarily be the one with whom you should procreate. Maybe falling in love and making babies are two entirely separate enterprises, regardless of what movies and politicians want to tell us. No matter how I ultimately get there, if I end up in MamaLand it will not be as a June Cleaver lookalike. The question for now is this: Would I be able to handle it if there is no resemblance at all?