Bianca and Olivier gchat on the sex # issue

August 7, 2009

The strongest woman I’ve never met

August 7, 2009

At 26: Mom, me, and choice

August 7, 2009
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Today I turn the age my Mom was when she had me – 26-years-old.

I wonder if it’s a uniquely female thing for that to matter – to arrive at the age your Mom was when she became a mother and go “whoa.”

I like to think of myself as a mature adult — a fairly together person. I’m proud of myself a coupe times a week. When difficult things come my way I find that I can deal with them sans tantrums. In general I am doing what people would call “well.” Do I act 26? Most of the time. Do I feel 26? Sure, I guess I’d say I do.

But could I have a child at some point during this 26th year of my life? OHMYGODNO. NO NO NO NO NO.

Do I know how to care for a baby? Yes, enough. I have those three little sisters. Would I at 26 – my version of 26, not my Mom’s – destroy the life of a child? No, not at all. I know all my lullabyes. It’s just that 95% of my life would have to change drastically in order to shift from my current mode – let’s call it work/write/drink/eat/fun mode – to bear and care for children mode – I believe that involves saving money/not sleeping/Mom jeans/and an elevator building if not actual back yard.

That, right now, I cannot do because I don’t want to.

Not having children is a choice at any age, but so is every piece of the single, 26-year-old lifestyle. At 26 I remain un-beholden to anyone but myself (and my family because I love them, but even that’s a choice). I make decisions every day that affect the kind of 26-year-old I am. 

I live in a city and as such my savings account is similar to a joke. I work in a the media industry which means long hours and low pay. I write as much as I can on the side which makes for early morning and some very late nights. I have a close network of friends, so all remaining spare time is spent organizing things to do in the city with that group.

I could write less. I could make more money at a different job. I could spend differently (namely less…). I could be in a relationship (I maintain that most people could be in a relationship if any relationship was the goal). But I would have to adjust lots of little pieces of my life to shift into making those things possible.

No, not everything is planned, but most major decisions come at the cost of something else. I believe these are referred to as sacrifices, but that’s always sounded like such a bummer. Let’s call them cause/effects.

The question is when those cause/effects start to shift — when you know it’s time to put one priority above another– especially as you’re turning the corner on your mid-twenties — especially now that people are starting to say, “you know, you’re not getting any younger..” Was I ever?? 

You hear people say, “then I decided to settle down” or “it was around then that I knew it was time to be in a relationship” or “I just knew the time was right for a career change.” How do they know? What happens?

As I was thinking about turning 26 – and what my Mom was doing as she was turning 26 (her birthday is in June, so she was doing 7 months pregnant things) I thought about what I’d be willing to give up to get some of the things some other 26-year-olds have.  What causes would I take up to effect other results?  Would I trade X to have Y or Z? Would I shift my attention from A to B so I could make my way to C? If someone told me I could have _____________, but I’d have to stop my ______________, would I do it?

We are the sum of our choices – trite but true – from as early on as we understand the concept of choice.  But I think we sometimes forget that in choosing one thing, we’re also choosing not another.  This isn’t an argument against having “it all” (there’s no argument, you can’t — but that’s for another day).  This is just a newly 26-year-old woman (who still feels like she should be referred to as “girl”) realizing what she loves about her life but what she could and might soon leave behind now that with each passing year the future changes focus.


  1. First off, happy birthday.

    I love this article. I’m a firm believer in choosing the road less traveled. So here I am, single, 26 and living in NYC. While my mother wasn’t pregnant at my age, she was certainly planning her wedding. A little part of me can’t help but feel like I’ve fallen behind in the race. But your article has inspired me to keep on truckin’ and stay focused on the choices I make. And more imporantly, believe in those choices.

    A great line:”I maintain that most people couldbe in a relationship if any relationship was the goal”

  2. Happy Birthday! I hope you’re 26th year brings you great things.

    For some women, having children is the goal. They find their happiness in creating a family, being a wife, mother, whatever. It’s no different than another woman finding her happiness being a working woman, single gal, etc…

    As long as you are doing what makes you happy then you are not missing the boat. You might have children later in life, you might not, it doesn’t really matter at this point in your life because you’re not actively seeking it out. Just like your line on being in a relationship if you wanted any relationship, you could have kids if you wanted them. It might not be ideal, but it could happen.

    I think that a person should be ready for a big life change and willingly sacrifice A for B if at all possible. Some situation don’t allow that and some “oops” mothers are the best ones out there, but I think that in most situations, ideally, you would choose the path you want- not be forced to walk it.

  3. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I went through the same thing when I turned 25 (the age my mom was when I was born) and kept thinking, “How did she ever do it?”

    Hope your day is a great one!

  4. Awww…. Happy Birthday to you!

    I don’t think it is so much as a “people just know” as it is “people WANT” to settle down or change their career.

    I have always wanted a family at 18. But since I didn’t have a boyfriend, that was plausible.

    Now, I have the found the man I will marry and I think around 23, 24, 25 we will get married and start a family.

    It is all about being READY for it, and recognizing if you are not.

  5. how about ‘young’ woman? Woman sounds weird to me too, and definitely ick ew no! to having kids anytime soon! love the post, agree with everything!

  6. Happy Birthday Jessie!!! It’s spooky, your “writing voice” is so similar to Kim’s. I love how you two have reconnected…and happy that you both took advantage of what our little town had to offer and are following your hearts (and prodigious minds)to pursue what turns you on- so unlike what your Mom and I experienced in our growing up (you can’t do that- you’re a girl….)by the way, this is my very first blog post- only you girls could drag me into this…. Sue K

  7. Happy Birthday!

    I recently turned the ripe old age of 26, too. And it’s odd because I got that feeling of “It is the right time for me to start settling down. Now.” I live in NYC and I’ve been focused on having fun and being coy and single and an aspiring careerboy and all that. The young, fun NYC dream. I’m at a point where I have a great career, wonderful friends and a tiny studio with a great wardrobe, but something switched inside of me on my 26th.

    I turn 26, and I get this feeling in my gut that I’m ready and its time to move to someplace like Chicago or Portland and live in a spacious apartment for $900 a month in a quaint Park Slope-esque neighborhood and work downtown 9-5 and come home and walk a dog or two with my (yet to be found – but I have a contender) partner. I realized that I’m just not a lifelong New Yorker. I’ve lived here for 6 years and I love it and it’s made me a really happy person. But I’m getting to a point where its not fun chasing sample sales and spotting B-list celebrities on the street and spending $8 on a beer and having my friends constantly worrying about how to pay their rent.

    The point is – we’re getting older and these switches start flipping and it’s the weirdest feeling in the world.

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