My whole life I've been rather a proponent for mild feminism. I blame it on my mom, who despite raising 4 crazy children, also got her Master's degree, served a mission, didn't get married until she was 29, speaks a million languages, is way smarter than most people I've met, and somehow managed to work on top of everything else while we were growing up.
Being a young woman at BYU has exposed me to a lot of the ridiculous pressures and stigmas held around here. For example: as soon as you get to university, start looking for a potential spouse, because Man, you're already an old maid. If you're not married by age 21 (ugh, who are you?) serve a mission, otherwise people might start to question what you really want in life. Once you finally do get married, you'd better get on the baby boat right away, because we all know you're committing some kind of sin by putting it off in favor of a degree or anything else.
Okay, so those are harsh generalizations, but really, those are the kinds of things this community makes you feel sometimes. Now, I've never really been one to want to follow the crowd (surprised? Hopefully not). Both my older sisters shuffled off to Utah right out of High School and got married at age 19. I have nothing against either of them (far from it, I admire their ability to do what they did), or their choices (which I know were very personal and well-considered), but when your younger brother starts telling you to get a move on in the whole marriage thing, and you are the only single granddaughter older than 12 at family reunions, you start to feel the pressure. I almost got married at 19. And oh, oh, oh I am so glad that didn't work out. I was a young thing at Cal State Long Beach, he didn't know what he wanted in life, and 3 years of being together was enough (a bad sign, guys). So I moved to Utah when I was almost 20, and didn't really think about marriage for a good long while after that.
I remember my 21st birthday party, which was a small party with only me and my roommates (and thankfully not the non-boyfriend-boyfriend of the time). Two of them had just gotten back from missions, and they were like "Woohoo! You're 21 now, what can you do now?" And I said, half jokingly (because I want to learn to cook with it, Helloooo) "I can buy alcohol?"
"And go on a mission!" Duh.
But I didn't. And honestly, while a part of me was intrigued by the concept of giving up a year and a half of my life in service to others in a totally random location on the planet, I didn't really want to. And there was some guilt driven into me because I'd made that decision.
Eventually, I got married. Yes, I realize I'm still incredibly young, but I'm almost 23, which to me beats the record of young people getting married around here. And now that I am, there's this question people ask, with their eyebrows wiggling like they have some kind of clever idea. That question is "when are you going to have kids? Eh? Eh?" And really, I just got married a month ago, give us a chance to adjust at least!
We got a cat instead. People don't think that's as funny as I do for some reason.
I've always told myself that I'd think about having kids when I was good and ready, which honestly, I've never thought would be soon. Aside from the baby fever everyone got in high school when we had about 15 pregnant girls in our year (oh don't worry, some of them were on their second or third kid), I've never really been super eager about raising kids right away. I've done plenty of babysitting and nannying and interacting with kids, and I have seen the good and the ugly.
A few weeks ago in my religion class (yes, I know I'm about to graduate, shush) it got a little ridiculous. My professor drove home the point very solidly to everyone in the class (who are mostly all Freshman) that you must have children right away or you are literally committing a sin. He threw quotes around from various church leaders, told stories about people regretting waiting because they found out they were infertile, etc. Essentially, the theme of the day was have kids now or you'll be punished. As you might imagine, I left class more than a little aggravated.
And then (ah yes, the more personal aspects I've been trying to include in my blogging) I thought I was pregnant. Like a month after being married. No fair! And yet, those four days of imagining it, I felt so internally happy and excited. After I saw the negative pregnancy test, the first thing I said was "Phew!" but inside I felt a little melancholy. I've always been interested in genetics and inheritance, topics that (don't judge me) get me pretty excited about having kids. When a random video popped up on Youtube about the "miracle of life" so to speak, I watched it. And I honestly got a little choked up when the sperm's genetic material blended with that of the egg's. Yes yes, I realize I'm a sap and more than a little weird. Bear with me.
The point of all this is that now I'm conflicted. I want to go to Graduate School, I want to work and travel and do amazing things (oh that's right, I got married-- that sort of put the kabosh on most of those plans...). But now that I'm healthier because my pancreas problems are nearly sorted out, I'm feeling a little yearning in my heart, and a vague feeling of currently being a little unfulfilled. Creating life really is a miracle. I didn't give birth to the cat (thank goodness), so his role as a child isn't really filled. When it happens, even if it's a lot sooner than I ever thought I'd get around to it, I'll be excited to be a mother, especially with Sam as a father (oh give me a break, I love him).