By jessie kornberg • March 09, 2008•Balancing Private and Professional Life
Recently a friend alerted me to Lori Gottlieb's article in The Atlantic Monthly advising women in their twenties to "settle" when it comes to finding a mate:
Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.
Well I did not take kindly to this advice. I think Gottlieb's perspective is sexist and harmful-it's directed only to women and promulgates the idea that as a woman ages she becomes less desirable to men. Rather than encouraging women to think about "perfection" in terms of commitment and character, Gottlieb validates the idea that a life partner is ideal in their appearance first and their ability to support and enjoy a committed relationship second. But I haven't been able to stop thinking about it either.
Recently I've been feeling more and more like having children will be like "settling" for me.
[Continues after the jump]
I don't really feel ready for the personal sacrifices raising children entails. But I know that when I'm 60 I'm really going to wish that I had had kids. I also know that my mid-twenties are the best time in terms of my health and my children's to start a family. So I'll endure the things I dread - I'll get fat and bloated, I'll lose sleep (and my complexion), I'll give up traveling and disposable income and high heels. All for a little brat pack of my own.
I think many women would argue that those things I'm dreading sound rather frivolous in comparison to the joys of raising children. These compromises aren't identified as "settling" with respect to having kids the way they are with respect to getting married. But it's really no different.
Gottlieb anticipated negative reactions to her observations as anti-feminist and unromantic. I also anticipate negative feedback to the confession that I'm not wild about the idea of having children but thinking about it nonetheless. But I also think that among women like me - young, professionally motivated and accomplished - these feelings aren't unique.