When I was 22 I got pregnant. Amazingly enough I already had an MSc, had had a number of lovers, had partied hard, had studied hard and was in stable loving relationship with a guy 2 years older who was delighted to have a kid. Sadly no one thought it was possible, which caused it to become impossible, so after ridiculous pressures and obscene points of views from family members and friends we succumbed to spite and ridiculousness and broke up.
Everyone who saw me playing with a toddler thought I was a babysitter or an older sister. When I told them I was the mum, people would pat me, or grow silent, or console me. I looked really young (and angry when faced with condescending assholes). When my fellow co-parent (boyfriend at the time) told them he was the dad, people broke in smiles or laughter or excitement. He also looked really young and scandinavian. I guess the involved dad is an unprecedented joy for humanity at any age but a mum is simply doing her duty.
Initially people assumed I was not ready or mature enough and would mess it up. When I didn’t, everyone assumed I had screwed up my life and was completely fucked over by the mother role. When I told them to go fuck themselves they got pretty defensive and looked at me as though I had caused a crack in the time-space continuum and I knew I had. I gradually came to realise that parenting was not about intimacy and having fun with people you’ve created or the nihilistic idea of existing for passing on your genes, it was about social norms and creating a circle of fellow parents to hang out with and maintain some kind of enjoyable normality.
Bold dudes with big bellies and old chicks who had had IV to get pregnant in their 40s were suddenly giving me advice. We always had to explain that we’re both biologists and actually consider it a good idea to have kids at the age we did and that the kid was not entirely planned, but not an accident either. We had to explain ourselves constantly until the freaking point where everyone knew and appreciated that we weren’t lying or more realistically to the point where we didn’t look that young anymore – up to the point when we had internalised prejudice and woke up to find we didn’t really mess up at all, in fact we did pretty ok considering.
And even though that prejudice absolutely wrecked us as a couple, we never blamed it on anyone. We just told everyone to go fuck themselves and carried on to find ourselves 12 years later smiling warmly at our past, wishing some things had never happened, but also appreciating every precious moment of wear and tear.
Funnily enough until this day and considering my age people presume my entire existence is defined by motherhood, even though a million things have happened to me, which were completely unrelated. It just seems too nihilistic to have a kid or pass time with it – there’s no point or clear benefit. In fact for a young intelligent person, having loads of success and partying ahead of them, it just seems like a huge mistake to miss out on all the additional fun – it never occurs to anyone you might want to try something else. It never even crosses anyone’s mind that you might be a dadaist, who might relish the joy of having a small ridiculous person around, or even that there might be two of you and that unless you’re dysfunctional, all that is wrong with you is that you’re too weird. I would even extend my obscene claims, by saying that you can party whilst being a parent or even with your kid, cause they sometimes like music and dancing.
Everyone in the christian western paradigm assumes that parenthood is about altruism and reaching the peak of your conservative streak and everyone assumes that you always have to put your kid first. That is utter pretentious bullshit. In fact according to modern psychology and moreover common evolutionary sense, you should make an effort to refrain from putting your kid first all of the time and make a case out of also putting yourself first when it’s important. It’s a bit like any other human relationship, only that humans no longer have human unsolicited relationships.
A friend I love a lot is struggling with addiction at the moment and I was chatting to his mum. She asked me “what would you do?” and without thinking I answered “oh my god, if I was his mum I would go crazy, I would do anything and everything, I would kill myself thinking of a very elaborate solution, I would tie him up, I don’t know what I’d do… it would probably depend on what I’d done up to that point”. That’s the whole point of any intimate relationship, being a piece of avant-garde art every fucken day – stretching your mind to its creative limits, not having a group of manic compulsive psychoanalysts telling you what to do (you could gain some perspective, but no real meaningful advice on how to be you). By the point your kids are in trouble, you should have shown yourself to them and given them an opportunity to grow with you, so they don’t get shocked when they actually have to give birth to you, a mature conservative grown-up, who had been in a kind of emotional infantry throughout their upbringing.