Paternity tests are covered by my insurance. How do I know? Because I was reminded of that fact at least 5 times during my pregnancy. It would go something like this:
What’s your name? Rachel Figueroa.
How old are you? 23.
Would you like to schedule a paternity test?
I don’t need a paternity test. I’m married. I know who the father is, it’s that guy I’m married to. He’s not disputing the fact that he’s the father. Why was everyone going all Maury Povich on me?
As as experiment, I started alternating between Figueroa and Levin to see if one name got the paternity question more than the other. Nope. So I started asking other moms if they were offered paternity tests. Some were, some weren’t. The ones that were, were all young.
There’s a trend, especially in Manhattan where I live, to have your whole career before you have your babies. I don’t judge that choice, but I didn’t make it. I got pregnant at 23 (a year younger than Snooki was) and I’m glad I did. But the “young mom” thing, or really, people’s reaction to the young mom thing, has been wearing on my nerves.
When I needed a transvaginal ultrasound, the woman at the ultrasound place (after asking how old I was and saying, “but you’re just a baby yourself”) asked me if I was sure I wanted one. No. I scheduled an appointment to have a lubed-up Wii controller shoved up inside me just for [expletive] and giggles. Basically this lady was implying that I should consider an abortion. In a country where politicians are trying to force women to get transvaginal ultrasounds, I had to argue to get one. One OB even loudly declared that I was his youngest patient, by like 15 years. He said “I’m just a kid” like I had no business being pregnant. (Thankfully my actual midwife wasn’t at all like that.)
After Adi was born, I found myself in a playgroup with older moms. When they found out I was born in (gasp!) 1986, they started by telling me how glad they were that they waited. Then they all started talking about what they were doing when they were my age. The first thing they mentioned was travel. After reminding them that Europe doesn’t have a child travel ban, I got met with something like oh it’s so different when you go without a family and blah blah blah. Different how? Where would I go that I couldn’t take my daughter?
Basically these women waited to have kids so they could have anonymous sex in a dirty European hostel.
While I’m not one to judge anonymous sex, (I met my husband on the subway, asked him if he was Jewish, and moved in with him 2 weeks later) doing it in a foreign country is not something I feel like I missed out on.
The world is different. Women have a lot more choices than they did even 20 years ago. With liberation however, came the expectation that these new and hard-fought for choices had to be chosen over getting married and having a baby. Anything else is an insult to feminism. Apparently when 40 became the new 30, 23 became the new 13.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I like being a young mom. Aside from still having the energy to chase after a toddler and pull all-nighters, I can still bend at the knees without pain or strange popping noises. I have a statistically higher chance of living long enough to get to know my grandkids. Carrying a stroller up subway steps doesn’t throw out my back. I know my husband won’t leave me for the nanny because I’m younger than the nanny. Sure when you were my age you were out clubbing, but when I’m your age, my kid will be in college and I’ll laying on a beach in Puerto Rico getting my tan on.
In Manhattan, feminism means waiting until you’re 57 to have kids, and giving said kids some ridiculous hyphenated conglomerate of a last name before sending them off to some progressive preschool where they teach left-handed basket weaving and French. But feminism shouldn’t be about choosing a career over a family, it’s about having a choice, period. Choosing to have babies before your career isn’t anti-feminist. Just ask Sarah Palin. After you’re done rolling your eyes at the idea that Sarah Palin is a feminist role model, ask Nancy Pelosi.
I’m not criticizing the choice to wait to have kids. I know a lot of older moms who are amazingly awesome. I don’t think waiting until you’re in your 40s is the wrong choice, but the moms who are truly happy with waiting don’t judge younger moms for not waiting.
And if you’re a young mom and some senior citizen gives you grief about being “just a kid” remind them that you’re happy, your farm fresh eggs produced a healthy baby, and that it’s rude to ask a woman how old she is.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.