Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Baby Showers and the Childless Chick

Hola, dear blog readers, and thank you for visiting again even though I’ve left you hanging since last Friday. I do have a couple of excuses, the first being hurricane Ernesto which threatened to hit our shores over the weekend but thankfully did not (southeastern Cuba and Florida weren’t so lucky…). The second one is work related (as in way too much of it for my liking) but you don’t want to hear about that, right? Good, because I’d rather not talk about it. Onwards…

… It’s rare that we here in the Cayman Islands are subject to the social phenomena and general going-ons of the world at large, mostly because we’re a sleepy little island of 50,000 people and don't have much by way of civilization beyond banks, churches, and cruise ships. We get up, go to work, drink ourselves silly out of boredom, pass out on the beach from time to time, and then do the same thing all over again the next day.

But one phenomenon has managed to infiltrate our blissfully uneventful social landscape…the baby craze. Or baby madness, if you prefer to call it (I know I do). Is it just me, or are babies, pregnant bellies, Lexus-level luxury strollers and goofy new dads taking over the world as we know it? In the interests of full disclosure, I confess that I’ve stubbornly resisted all calls to the state of motherhood from nosy family, well-meaning friends, and crushing social pressure. So while you could call me biased, I think once you look at the evidence, from the proliferation of fancy-pants baby showers to the tabloid-fueled Hollywood baby frenzy, you may just agree…

Exhibit A: I attended a baby shower just this weekend. My second of the baby season, and probably not my last. The sex of the yet-unborn child was unknown, so yellow duckies and green froggies abounded. As did the carb-laden pastries, cakes and quiches, but not so much as one ounce of a sour apple martini to take the edge off for the non-expecting amongst us (like, say, yours truly). That same night, I came across a chapter in Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed where Rachel, the main character was subjected to one such social ritual, and where the sex of the baby was also unknown and where yellow abounded as a result… coincidence? I think not.

Exhibit B: The September issue of Glamour ran a feature article about the disproportionate media focus on Hollywood pregnancies and the effect this has on women with fertility problems and those who simply don’t want kids. Enlightening and timely.

Emily Giffin (Baby Proof) and Wendy French (After the Rice) are two authors I’ve read who delved into what it’s like to be a perfectly happy twosome (or onesome) in a world obsessed with threesome-plus families. And I for one, couldn’t be more grateful. (Actually,if you check out the Amazon reviews for these books, you'll find much vitriolic diatribe aimed not at the books' merits or flaws, but at the LIFE CHOICES of the characters...amazing).

Now, I’m not saying I don’t ever want children – under the right circumstances I might – but just as once upon a time the pendulum swung in favor of the fabulousness of Singletondom and its (implied) carefreeness, maybe these days it’s swinging a little too far the other way. Maybe we as a society need to get on celebrating individual choice as opposed magnifying social trends so as to make it seem like ‘everyone’s doing it so why not you?’

And this, to me, is what makes chick lit so very fabulous – that more than any other popular genre out there, it has celebrated freedom of choice for the average chick and explored all kinds of avenues to pursue that freedom.


Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

From one childless chick to another...

OMG, I thought I was going crazy! Three people on my team at work have had a baby this past year...and more are expecting! It's crazy. Literally everywhere I got there are stollers, double strollers, pregnant ladies with double strollers...what's going on!

I have yet to face any scrutinization by friends and family (probably because I act like a 13 year old most of them time), but I know it'll come some day. Like you, I don't forsee any mini-chicks in the future either :)
I think it's because I love being the impractical Auntie. The auntie who gives pink fuzzy boots to a 1 yr old and arrives at kids b-day parties in three inch heels carrying a brightly colored gift for baby...AND Mom.

I have to check out Baby Proof. I've heard so much about that book. Hope work doens't kill you!

love ya babe!

Maureen McGowan said...

Speaking as another childless chick... It bugs me that no one will believe it's on purpose, you know?

At Emily Giffin's book signing in Toronto, she said one of the main reasons she reversed things in Baby Proof (in her first draft, it was the wife who changed her mind and wanted a baby) was because of the way the public/press reacted to Jennifer Aniston after her marriage fell apart and before the Angelina thing was confirmed.

She got such a spanking. "Mean Jennifer, denying Brad a baby."

Really, not only was that super presumptive... it's a choice and Jennifer, like any woman, was free to make it. There's nothing wrong with not wanting kids. In my childless opinion.

Nadine Dajani said...

I KNOW! Thank you ladies. I feel the pressure because my husband is the kind of guy who has fabulous-future-dad smacked all over his face (I'm not saying it's true... I don't know... but some people just LOOK like they're cut out for that kind of thing...). So of course everyone around us is holding me resposnible (in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, but still...) for our childless state. Sigh.

I felt really bad for Jennifer too. No one needs to have to defend their life choices like that... even celebrities (did that sentence make any sense? It's Friday and I'm tired. Sorry).

Sweet Honey Child said...

And yes, another childless chick chiming in. Nadine, we had this discussion in Atlanta. While I do love children, me and the ATM have been married four years this month...something else I believe we share, anyway we've yet to procreate. I do want children, but I want them on my own terms. Meaning when me and the ATM believe it's financially right and when it's just right in our life. Could be today, could be tomorrow, maybe next year.

It really hurts when people ask over and over as if that's what you are supposed to do. Just because your life will be complete by having a child, maybe that won't make my life complete.

Emily Giffin's Baby Proof really opened my eyes to seeing a variety of different views. It helped to cement in my mind, when it's time I will know. And if it's not, it's okay.

And Dona, you're not the only one scouting out Neiman Marcus online wondering if Pink Pumas are frivolous for a three month old.

Anonymous said...

As a new mother, I have also looked at the baby pink pumas and wondered if $60 was too much to spend on a baby, especially if your child was a boy! I have a child but still feel I am one of you! I once had a life filled with alcoholic beverages instead of sippy cups. I once worried about what shirt I would wear out to the latest club, instead of wondering which shirt covered my now flabby belly and didn't have "spit up" on it. Now, don't get my wrong, I love, love, love my child and wouldn't change anything about how my life turned out. That being said, I do still daydream about taking off to London or New York, snagging some amazing job that I love and looking forward to a Friday night out on the town with friends. I never ask friends "why" or "when" they are going to have kids and try to train my husband to do the same. As someone who is learning how to have a child and a life of her own, trust me, I look at you people, who can have an unexpected Friday night that leaves you with butterflies in your stomach for days, with complete envy. That was me once and sometimes, even though I'm not supposed to, I really wish it was me again.