Monday, February 20, 2006

Bunnies, Babies, Blighted World

Tee hee. This is Jim & I at our friends' magical wedding last summer -- we were all asked to come as animals or faeries. The part of my costume that you can't see -- because I decided not to wear it -- was made by my clever sister Emily and consisted of a snake that would appear to be swallowing me up to my waist. (My "baby" sister is a herpetologist who did her dissertation on rattlesnake physiology and something about sexual dimorphism and feeding habits -- she's now a professor at 29! Smarty pants!)

I was just searching for a photo to put up with my post today, and this made a really weird tangent in my brain because I was thinking about... er, having babies, and how some groups of people in this country are having them faster than others, sort of like... er, rabbits. As I said, weird tangent. But I have been thinking about babies. It's not exactly my biological clock -- I do actually believe the clock is a very real physiological thing. In my 20s it was in full force for a while. Baby dreams, strong urges to "forget" to take my pills, things like that, but it sort of faded with time, and now the idea of babies is more of an intellectual process. A bit more rational, which is maybe not the way to go about it, because anyone will tell you it never "feels" like the right time -- and it doesn't. And friends of ours who DO have babies, some of them are cheerleaders for babies, but far more of them say doomful things while staring with their wide sleepless eyes, like "You'll never have time for yourself ever again. ever. ever. ever..." or "the one thing nobody warned me about was the monotony". Not helping us take the plunge! And then there are those who visit with their perfect babies who never cry and make parenting a one-year-old seem like the simplest thing in the world! (Sweet Caleb! Darling Grace!)

There was a line on Scrubs this season that was too too good. When Carla was trying to convince her husband Turk that they should have a baby, she told him another doctor said it was like having a dog that slowly learns to talk. That convinced him to go for it! (Men.)

(Speaking of men, on the dog walk this morning Jim out of the blue started playing the baby name game. His choices were: Bruce Wayne Di Bartolo; Clark Kent Di Bartolo; and Peter Parker Di Bartolo. Dork! Big big dork!)

As self-employed artists we'll have it easier than some with the transition - we work at home. We'll work it out. But we're both in a point in our careers where we work endless hours and are so greedy with our time. But then I feel more and more that I'm closing off an essential part of myself by not having a baby. It's kind of like having vast rooms in your house that you never go in, but they're rooms in myself. It's an experience of life and self that I don't want to miss. There's a part of me that feels like it's selfishness to bring children into this blighted world - that we do it for ourselves, not for them. I have an absolute sense of fatality about the future of this planet and I can't help but think that a century from now any descendants of ours will be gasping in a toxic stew, drowning under the floods of global warming or embroiled in a morass of wars. I was really glad to read the lovely poem today on Alexandra's site, but it didn't sway me to optimism. I can see no sunny future for this planet: it's doomed. We're killing it. But I still want to have babies, even though they'll inherit this big messy doomed future.

It strikes me that I'm overthinking this whole thing. Anyone? Anyone? Whew!


Alexandra S said...

Clark Kent DiBartolo? You always said in the past you wanted two children: Dunkin Donut DiBartolo and Heysus Mozarella DiBartolo. What happened? In any case, you two will be incredible parents and you'll sort it all out. Of this I have NO doubts! (Snoshti can move in and help out when you are working, and of course, I will be closeby to homeschool your brood as soon as they are old enough!) I remember when I had my 4th child and I was trying to teach my dog, Lombard, to talk at the same time, it was very trying, but the thing is everything works out in the end because it must. The truth is you will bring all the magic and hard work you bring to everything else in your life to motherhood too.

jd said...

Laini, Big mistake on Jim's part for initiating the name game so soon. He doesn't realize that when a baby is on the way 90% of your conversations (and fights) will be about what to name the baby. Of course, maybe that's your strategy. Get him thinking about names now, so when the inevitable name discussions ensue during pregnancy, he'll be so burned out on the topic he'll let you name the baby what you want. In the meantime, here's a Baby Name Wizard that I wish was around when we were naming our kids.

Laini Taylor said...

Hey JD! We've actually been playing the name game for years. It's fun when there's not a baby on the way. Kind of like naming imaginary pets or characters in fiction? Also, maybe a way of staving off real discussions of having a baby? Don't know, but I'm sure you're right - when it gets down to the wire it's sure to become interesting... All still very abstract now!

megg said...

Oh my goodness you are SO not overthinking it. I am in exactly... EXACTLY the same place. I always say I should have had my kids when I was 19 because I wanted them then. Now...

Mark and I play the name game ALL of the time. Every single strange word we hear we turn it into a name for our future child. It's hilarious. He's convinced our son will be Warden. Warden Wilton. Men ARE dorks.

Know that I can relate if you ever need an ear!!

chest of drawers said...

Dear Laini,
I am trying to think of what I was thinking before I had children, if I thought for long about whether or not??? When I fell in love with my husband and we thought that we knew we were meant to be together and I decided to stay here with him in Austria, I made the decision to be a stay at home mum and then I thought, well if I´m going to stay at home then I want to have a big family. I don´t know why but it was clear to me. When my husband and I seperated many people felt sorry for me because I was left to take care of the 3 boys but they didn´t realise that this was the one thing keeping me going. I wanted 3 children, I can´t explain it but after Markus, the youngest, was born I knew that was it. Now I feel too old to have any more children but there are many moments when I look at Erich, feel the bond between us and wish to have a child with him, to bring it up surrounded with the love that we have for each other. I know that there is serious love right there in that little yellow cottage and I can honestly say that there is no wonder more amazing than having a baby. Who will make the world a better place in future if not our children, those brought into this world in love?

holli said...

whew! I guess I am hoping for the best with the future.. I just can't be filled with doom, or I would never walk out the door.

I will say I'm lucky, all my friends who want babies try and borrow Faith to convince their husbands that babies can be easy AND fun (she's both.)

I know she's brought such joy into my life.. and by that token, she has made the world a better place.. even if it is in such a small way that nobody but me might notice.. who knows what the rippling effect of that might be?

I love bunny ears, bunny slippers - I collect them!! So I loved your pic!

Colorsonmymind said...

I have been thinking a lot about your baby questions the past few days.

I am feeling a little scattered so forgive me if this lacks cohesiveness.

1. You may end up bringing a person into this world that will do huge things for the environment and may actually help save this planet from self destruction.

2. Having a child has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined- and cannot exactly put into words. It would have been impossible to accurately predict these changes before he arrived. Our lives have changed and at times it has been difficult to let go of things, like my teaching job and the freedom to go on trips or out with friends as easily as I used to. It is teaching me that all that I am is inside of me not in the job I have or the things I do.

Raising my son takes a lot of time, but it also allows me to cherish moments like I never did before.

It can be mundane- this is one of my most frequent complaints I have, but only when I am focusing on getting things done rather than being mindful and in the moment, then it is joyful.

Having a child has changed my life but not once have I wished he wasn't in it. He has opened my heart, given wings to my spirit and inspired me to be the best person I can be.

baylor said...

Oh how I can relate to this post, as I am suppose to start Clomid in less than a month...

I worry (even at 26, yet with fairly large fertility problems) about having children...and so here I am...about to dive in. And if I do, there is no turning back.

It's odd, isn't it, getting older and making these desicions that will affect tiny and grand things for the rest of our lives?

Good luck!


Cate said...

We were one of those couples that, after 6 years of marriage, decided to "take the plunge." Thinking it would take FOREVER to happen, we were stunned and unprepared when we found out I was expecting a month later!

That being said, having our sons changed our lives. Everybody says that, but it's true. There are hard days (okay, most of them are hard), but every day is a gift. As for our marriage, it was a common bond--a little person whom we both loved equally, massively. To have that little person in common was a privilege and a joy. I see much of my husband in our boys, and I know that he sees me in them, too. I am proud that they have that man as their father--he is incredible!

I think about the gloom and doom stuff too--it's real. But like Thea said, who knows what kind of difference our little creations are going to make in the world??

Good luck (and have fun) making your decision!

mati rose said...

Wow! That is too cool about your connection to Hugh-- I'll tell him as soon as he gets home! Let's keep in touch:)

Shesawriter said...

Hi Laini,

What a wonderful picture. You two look so cute! :-) Just wanted to drop by your place to say hi. Hope all is well and thanks for paying me a visit.


tara dawn said...

Overthinking things and analyzing everything tends to come with the territory of does the darkness at times. But you know what...I wouldn't give it up for anything. Think how boring it must be for those who do not think enough...then again, maybe they are blissfully ignorant.
Sorry for the rambling...just wanted to let you know you're not alone:)

Sky said...

What an adorable picture! This environmental concern is so significant for us all, babies or not. Hopefully at some point people will begin to see the issues more clearly and will drop the denial so prevalent in today's world. Younger America seems to be more consciously aware, in my opinion, than my own generation and older. That means your children will have a better chance of making the issues the priority which can make the difference. Industry will change because policy and law will mandate it. There is a chance for recovery, I believe, and it rests in the youth of this world. Add another educated youth for the good of us all! And, based on the pic you attached, s/he will be a cutie pie!

liz elayne said...

oh you have taken a moment to peak inside my brain laini - these are the same thoughts i often do it or not? a question that often floats across my brain and into the conversations in our house. people always say "sounds like you aren't ready if you are worrying about your debt" or "there is never a good time" and on and on. i don't have any answers but it sure is good to know that someone else thinks about this like i do...

beansprout said...

I had this very same conversation with my best friend Loretta from NYC. She's having the full blown Damien (the possessed Omen child fantasies). Another friend said to her that no matter what decision she ultimately makes, she still has to do the "prep" work for a baby. It is part of the initiation into adult womanhood. The idea was to prepare the ground (no matter what) so that there will be no regrets either way. Me? I think I've made the decision to have fur and creative babies instead!

Shari said...

The world needs more loving, happy, intelligent, conscienscious couples to have children. To keep the cycle of caring intact. There just seems to be so much love between the 2 of you, an ideal environment to raise a child (and that's only what I can see from pictures!) Parenthood is the toughest experience you will ever have, but it is absolutely balanced by being the most full of joy. There have been days when I thought my eyeballs would pop out of my skull, and then I go in to check on my sweet girl at night, and see her sleeping peacefully, and you can't imagine the happiness, the love, and the HOPE that you feel. Not to mention the first time your actually hear the word "Mama"

Shari said...

PS: By the way, might I suggest start taking folic acid, just in case. You never know. One day you're pondering and the next day you could be pregnant. The universe works in mysterious ways with doors opening and closing all over the place!

la vie en rose said...

how cute is that pic!!! to have or not to have...or when to have, or should i have a tough question...and a life altering decision.

Anonymous said...

Oh la la-- you have covered the full gamut of "the question"-- for really, is there any other question until that one is answered?

This, of course, being a rhetorical question-- for me-- as if I had all the energy and time I have spent pondering (all those points you mentioned and then some)--boy, would I have a lot of time and energy.

What I love is how you ruminated on it with such gentleness-- no driving rights or wrongs-- just mulling it over-- as there are many sides to it, for sure.

Loved that quote from Scrubs-- woot.


P.S. I can't wait to purchase me some of those Laini ladies-- my goddaughter is a Laini, too (she is 10 and her real name is Elaina, but she's been Laini or Laini-loo since she was a baby).

Anonymous said...

For sure you are NOT overthinking child-having and are NOT the only one with these very logical and introspective thoughts. What I don't get is why the "default" in our culture is to have children and not having them is the carefully thought out decision process that having them should be. Further, why does our society still in 2006 have such difficulty accepting that some women may counsciously (not by infertility or life circumstances) not choose parenthood as part of their path? I believe many creative women have spent all their life "having babies", birthing their projects, nurturing the development of their art, etc. and therefore, having experienced a lot of fulfillment in these areas, might simply not have a calling to birth a human being. And that is really OKAY!

Swirly said...

This is great stuff. I agree with you about our planet. I don't think we are going anywhere good in the grand scheme of things. For me, I was never desperate to have children, but I realize that not having them is a great loss. And while I never say never, it is looking like it is simply not in the stars for me, and I am OK with that. I am actually quite thankful I never had that deep, deep desire to have children, or I'd be freaking out right now. I think if you feel that desire - those empty rooms calling your name - you should follow it. What a lucky being your child would be to be surrounded by such creativity!

HoBess said...

That picture is priceless! And I can’t imagine that any two grown ups willing to run about in bunny ears wouldn’t be good at parenting. As for Jim’s names, can you please ask him why alter-egos always seem to have two first names instead of a first and a last?

Somnambulist Seeker said...

I completely agree that the planet faces enormous challenges... and it may or may not be that we as a species wind up meeting them.

But, I think the same fears were felt by the previous generation... and I suppose if my own parents had let those thoughts drive the bus, I wouldn't be here to comment.

IMHO- Good, reasonable people who are capable of raising good, reasonable kids are exactly what the planet needs.


PS - Thanks for dropping by my blog!

Patry Francis said...

I agree with the seeker. Your children would be part of the solution.

Jim Di Bartolo said...

In response to Hobess' question, the answer is obvious (sheesh!). Mere mortals like us are not worthy of questioning superheroes! Come now! (*eye roll*)


Em said...

I found your journal and am really enjoying it and am inspired - I also am an artist and writer, and I have three kids. . . . there is lots in my livejournal about what it means to try to live that creative sort of life while raising kids. It ain't easy - but it is more fulfilling than you could ever imagine.
Best of luck and I look forward to following your artful and lovely journey!
lj here:

Pearl said...

Got enough feedback yet? :-) I can see you two are all ears.

Average age for women to have first child is 26 now, which means 40% chance on avg of pregnancy each month assume 2 or 3 tries a week. It drops by 10% per decade.

For me people say I should have children for the grandchildren, because women should or say I shouldn't have kids; they'd give back their own if they could at a ratio of about 5:4:2

Childlessness and children is really cultural. As far as I can gather you never know what kind of parent you are til you try.

Jo said...

Hah! Your husband's not the only one to want to name the kids after superheros. We have two cats after X-Men and a dog after the Teen Titans cartoon. I will have to drag with both heels to avoid Clark, Peter and Bruce!