The Baby Tsunami
Jessica (not her real name) is one of the most social people I know. Once when we had lunch together in a downtown restaurant, we ran into her childhood babysitter as well as two college friends who just happened to be visiting that weekend and an old friend from high school. She is smart, attractive, ambitious and currently single. In fact, Jessica is navigating the online dating scene and has grown increasingly frustrated with it.
“I am constantly being messaged by men,” she says. “Most of them are rude or silly. Of those that seem worthwhile, some of them may not want a relationship or kids. It takes awhile to figure it out.” She has been sifting through the massive choices out there and believes that “the perception of options” makes it hard to focus on meeting one person to marry and settle down with.
Like many single women in their early thirties, Jessica is asking herself whether it will be realistic for her to be a mother one day as she still hasn’t found the right man to raise them with. She knows that she does not want to have a child as a single mom. So the search for the right partner continues.
“Most guys assume that if you are in your thirties then you are desperate to have babies and get married,” she says. “A couple of my older friends who don’t want kids are frustrated by this in the dating scene.” She does not want to scare guys off but she also wants to be real with them. In the online dating world, there seems to be an unspoken rule that you should not mention marriage or kids on the first date. However, Jessica finds ways to slip kids into the conversation, saying casually how cute she thinks kids can be. She then gauges the date’s reaction.
One of her potential candidates, a boyfriend of 3 months, interacted so awkwardly around children that she knew he could not be an ideal match. He claimed that he would be different with his own kids, but it was hard to believe.
Jessica grew up with two very loving parents who enjoyed their roles in raising kids. They believed that having children was one of the best things about life. Her father in particular is a very caring man and she wants her partner to emulate those qualities. She once observed a businessman in an airport talking rudely about his ex-wife, saying that she is complaining now about how hard it is to be a single mom, as though he completely didn’t understand that it really WAS hard. “I don’t want to marry a cold-hearted guy,” Jessica says.
But, having not yet found the right partner, she is not decided on whether the path of motherhood is completely right for her. In the last couple of years, she has noticed that most of her friends from college have kids now. Talking about this tidal wave of new additions to their group of friends, another friend recently dubbed it the “baby tsunami,” as the phenomenon stretched from coast to coast. She is partly jealous of their situation but also simultaneously enjoys her own freedom. And she knows that parenthood is not always an easy, straightforward thing.
One of her friends who is thirty-seven years old had complications recently with producing breast milk. Another twenty-nine year old friend had a baby earlier in life but had to temporarily sacrifice some career aspects to do it. And yet another friend has a severely disabled daughter who is just turning five years old. “You can have a fairytale wedding and marriage but still have it tough with parenthood,” she says.
Jessica used to believe that having a child was investing in her future. You are leaving behind a legacy and someone with be there to potentially take care of you in your old age. “But like any investment,” she says, “it is a crap shoot. You don’t know if they’ll be around when you’re old, if they’ll love you, if they’ll be responsible adults.” It’s true that you don’t know how your kids will turn out in the end. For now, she will continue to focus on building her career and friendships while seeking the right life partner and seeing how her life unfolds.
Has the baby tsunami being happening near you?
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Photo Credit: Cal OES via Flickr Creative Commons