Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Perfect Oxymoron






Today, I'm honored to be writing at two fabulous blogs as part of the Won't You Be My Neighbor series. You can find my entries at Motherese and Fangirls Sing the Blues.

In this quid pro quo spirit, I'm excited to likewise welcome my good friend Rosie of Fangirls Sing the Blues to Never-True Tales today. In the time I've known her, she's been a wonderful writing partner, a great listener, a hilarious conversationalist, a shoulder to lean on, and has even gotten me to try vegemite (yes, it would seem Australians really do eat that stuff!). She's insightful and funny and also has an upcoming book release. I encourage all of you to check out her site!



You might know Lulu and Jim. They were financially-sound (enough), had annual holidays to somewhere popular, and hosted dinner parties where they served Wagyū beef for main course, following a small sample of something crustacean.

They’d known each other for a decade. They loved late and long, sleeping-in on weekends, brunching until the afternoon and dancing the hours pre-dawn. Their cars were late-modeled. Their clothes were classy. They spent Jim’s thirtieth birthday watching ships glide along the Grand Canal in Venice. They’d bushwalked into Wilson’s Promontory, ran on top of hot coal in New Zealand and kept their passports up-to-date.

Jim bought them a puppy, they learned to look after a dog, they established a house in the suburbs and tended a garden that lived. Before they knew it, they were approaching their mid-thirties. They noticed their biological clock ticking, but one day it (mistakenly) screeched its alarm at 4 am and the couple realized it might be time to start a family. They were up at a stupid hour anyway. They were competent at everything in life . . . but conception was a challenge.

Anna and William met in high school. They fell in and out of love as often as the cafeteria lunches were declared tasteless. They tumbled about in the wake of hormonal surges, horrific zits, emotional outbursts and parental intervention.

After a (few) night (s) of true passion, they conceived their twins, and the babies were born just before Anna’s eighteenth birthday. William found a job straight from school, donning a collar and tie every day as he manned a computer terminal at his uncle’s accountancy practice. He loved the kids. He and Anna loved the concept of each other, sometimes struggling to remember that they were still essentially young when their offspring demanded their decisions be those of older heads. They were together. By the time they were in their mid-twenties, they had four children.

Sandy became pregnant at twenty-eight. She lived alone and relied upon an old college buddy to provide his genetically-attractive sperm . . .

Steve and Sue were in their mid-forties, got carried away on their kid-free date-night and ‘forgot’ to use contraception. Their youngest child (at the time) was eleven, and whoops . . .

Tammy and Katrina were settled and wanted to extend their committed, same-sex love to a child in need. They wanted family . . .

Is there a perfect time to become a parent?

It’s a bit like asking ‘is there a perfect time to buy a house, is there a perfect time to make life changes, is there a perfect time to do ANYTHING?’

Having been fortunate enough to meet parents of all ages, persuasions and creeds — as most readers of Never-True Tales probably have — it’s impossible to say. Mac (my husband) and I decided to ‘try’ for beloved children when he hit 34 and I was a year younger, even though we had been together since our twenties.

Does that make us better/worse/more experienced/too damn old/stricter parents than a couple who might have started their family in their twenties? What about those who conceive in their 40s? Or people who struggle to conceive, then give birth after years of using artificial reproductive technology — does this factor make them more loving as parents? More grateful for their children?

The simple answer to this entire thing is ‘no’, perhaps? Again, I’ve phrased this as a question because the issue is as grey as the hairs that sprinkle our heads once we parent teenagers. Just like the irrefutable notion that no parent is perfect — no person is perfect — so is there no perfect time to conceive a child and have a family.

We might believe we have it perfectly arranged. We have our career scheduled, our partner chosen, our ‘timeline for firstborn’ established and pasted into a Word document. Sure! And this may actually happen, where we strike lucky and everything evolves perfectly for US. However, in the scheme of things, when all factors are considered and all newborns are weighed, what was a ‘perfect time’ for Jim and Lulu would never be a perfect time for Sandy. The couple who have their family in their twenties are in a totally different place by the time they reach fifty, compared to those giving birth for the first time at forty-four.

All of this is obvious, I know. The main thing is that regardless of age and our perception of perfection, the make-up of families and staging of children’s ages is as individual as the personality of the kids themselves.

I had my first child at age 34 and a bit. My mother gave birth at 21 (then she had her last child at 40), a girlfriend had her first at 18, and I have a relative trying to conceive at 39. The perfect time for parenthood is often non-existent, but as long as a child is born into love we might be closer to ‘getting it right’ than we think. Or not.


If you are also participating in the Won't You Be My Neighbor series by hosting a guest writer, sign the linky below with your guest's blog post! (Make sure you copy and paste the URL of the post, not your whole blog site.) If you wrote a guest post this week, snag the button from the side-bar and paste it onto your blog, so everyone knows where you are writing!


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