When Thalia graduates high school, it will be 2023. With any luck, there will be peace in the Middle East, Keith Richards will still be hobbling onstage with a Camel Light hanging out of his tracheotomy hole for one last farewell tour, and I will be fifty-five.
One of the great things about New York City is that anything goes. We’re outstanding at normalizing the abnormal.You want to live a polygamous S & M lifestyle in your Avenue C walk-up? The neighbors won’t even notice. You want to stand naked in a cowboy hat and play guitar in Times Square? Get a new schtick, someone’s already done it. And if you want to start cranking out the kids around 35, 40, well you’ve come to the right place.
I walk into my Upper East Side OB’s office and I feel downright youthful. A whole spate of women just like me stream through the green front door. They’re women with careers first; ungodly amounts of disposable income first; one-night stands and summer shares in the Hamptons and therapy-induced self-actualization first–families now. There are no regrets. It is how it is.
But here, in the blog world, the reality strikes. Over the past few months I’ve become keenly aware of the decade-plus headstart that most mothers in the world have over me.
It’s a snap to justify: I wasn’t ready at 26. I wasn’t qualified at 26. Hell, I wasn’t even dating anyone at 26 who might have been a worthy condender. Certainly not the narcissistic chain-smoking B-actor; not the radio sportscaster who confessed that his life’s goal was to be “the next Rush Limbaugh.” (Yes, that was our last date.) In fact if you look at the string of emotional cripples I dated in my twenties, my daughter–or whoever my child might have been–is very fortunate that the condom never broke.
And yes, today I’m older, wiser, blah blah blah blahbedee blahhhhhhhh. I don’t need reassurance or pats on the back. Honestly. But I can’t help but ponder the truth of my situation. When I crouch over to help Thalia take a few shaky steps across the living room floor, I can’t wait to stand up and stretch. The Bjorn is a distant second choice to the stroller on long walks. My body ain’t what it used to be, and I don’t just mean my boobs. (Oh, my boobs! The poor deflated postpartum boobs–how proud you once stood, how confident, how dignified. Now, you’re just a droopy, freeform shadow of your former selves. Ah well, we’ll always have Paris. And Wacoal.)
I don’t mean to paint myself as some farty old lady in a JC Penny twin set and a Life Alert medical alarm, with Danke Schön playing on the hi-fi. But I am, by most standards, an Older Mom.
I don’t allow myself too many morbid thoughts, too many fast-forwards through life with my daughter. But once in a while they creep in and I have to shoo them away. This is the reality of the Older Mom.
And now there is more reality to come in and mess with my sometimes messy reality: The second child decision.
Having my nephew here for the past few weeks and seeing how beautifully he and Thalia interact has solidified my desire to put the old birth canal to use again. It brings back such strong memories of growing up close to my own brother–teaching him the PG lyrics to Jingle Bells, having tea parties underwater in the swimming pool at my grandmother’s condo, laughing so hard at the crazy French food names in the frozen food section of Fauchon that we had to be escorted out. Even now, we’re so connected to one another that we’ve been forbidden from pairing up on family game nights. I suppose it’s unfair to the rest of the crew that I can guess the charades directive on his Cranium card answer before he’s even started acting out Mash. It’s just something in his smile that no one can see but me.
I would love nothing more than for Thalia to have the same experience. But my lack of crows feet and grey hairs, the fact that the local bars still ocassionally card me, all betray the real-life age of my ovaries. Now is not a good time for any number of reasons–let’s just say “the usual.” But is there ever a good time? And if there is a good time, will it be a good time for my women parts?
How far will I go to have another child? What are my limits? Are there limits? Do I even have to think about this stuff? I mean Thalia just sort of…happened. No temperature taking, no injections, no “come on honey, it’s that time of the month.” It was as if we simply wished her here and she appered.
I want to be fatalistic: If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. But in this case, I believe you make your choices, and you go after what you want before you can start talking about divine intervention. Which means it’s my move.
And this is one of the very very very few times in my life where I’m not quite sure what my move is.