Saturday, May 4, 2013

On Marriage, Children, Insecurities, & the Documentary 'Sexy Baby'. . .

I'm many things, including a wife, but I'm thankfully not a mother.

When I got married the first time there hadn't been discussion about babies. There hadn't been discussion about many important issues, like money, either. But, since we were Catholic and my ex had never said that kids were something he wouldn't want, I assumed he would. He knew, though, that I had been against having children since I was a young teen. He married me anyway and it would have become an amazing, painful struggle--as were all things between us, to be honest--had we stayed together. I would have been subject to painful medical testing, drugs,and poking and prodding. He would have learned that I was infertile and we would have lived miserably ever after. He would never have been happy without children and I would have been even more of a failure than he already thought I was.

When Matt and I got married, we didn't really talk about having children either. There wasn't much discussion about where we were on babies. I knew, at that point in my life, that I might want one and that he didn't. I was still going through a "babies are the hot new accessory" phase and wanted one because a lot of people I knew had one. He was still growing up. By the time my phase has passed and I was back to my usual self, he had grown up enough to think that he might actually want one. We had switched sides on the issue, we talked about it frequently, and I expressed that--without comprise--I wasn't on the baby bandwagon. I had never really wanted one in the first place.

Then I went through a spell of fear where I worried, constantly, that I wasn't going to be enough for Matt. I worried that I would be depriving him of something he needed to be fulfilled. Because I'm not just infertile, I'm childfree by choice. I made the choice to forego the poking and prodding that comes with the attempts to medically force a body to do something that it wasn't naturally capable of doing. I tend to believe that infertility is nature's way of gently suggesting to you that children aren't something you should be doing. But that's just me and, honestly, more power to women stronger and more willing to subject themselves to near torture for the sake of a life sentence than am I.

Then, tonight, I was watching a movie on Showtime Women called Sexy Baby. It's a documentary that follows three unrelated women and the subject matter is gender politics and sexuality. I recommend it if you get the chance. It's also what brought on this sort of fit of nostalgic thoughtfulness. One of the women, a former porn star, was trying to have a baby with her husband. Though she wasn't against it, she was afraid she wouldn't be able to give him a baby and of what that would do to her marriage. The film made clear that he married her to grow a family and without babies their marriage wasn't completely stable. He said he didn't marry her just because he loved her and had she said she didn't want kids, he wouldn't have married her at all.

And I got pretty angry.

Shouldn't marriage be about love first, children and all the other obligations second? Maybe I'm idealistic on this topic. Maybe it's unrealistic of me to think that other people could stay together and be happy without children. Maybe I just hope that my husband doesn't decide, when he's 40, that kids are something he wants and that he needs to go find someone to give him kids. It could happen, right? Even though he's told me, repeatedly, that kids aren't important to him and that he would rather have me than kids any day. I take him at his word, but I worry, too, and hearing 40 year old men say they wouldn't be married to their porn star wives without babies to sweeten the deal drudges up my insecurities. If an ex-porn star isn't good enough without using her uterus to satisfy her husband's need to prove he's virile by bringing offspring into the world, then how on earth am I?

And really, why would he think he has the right to say something like that to his wife? Isn't the knowledge that the world only values her as a sex object enough of a weight on her shoulders without having to hear her own husband, who should love her unconditionally, tell her that she's the sum of just one part, her uterus? That he values her as a reproductive object? It's upsetting to me and it brings about all sorts of negative emotions for me. In addition to my insecurities about Matt running off with someone who wants to have kids, I know, too, that the world is judging me and that I shouldn't have to repeatedly explain why it doesn't matter that my "clock is ticking" and that I'm "running out of time." It's fine. The quicker my time runs out, the better. Really.

Fortunately, for this recovered porn star who seems to be trying to make something of her life outside of the porn industry, she was able to give her husband a child. Which, by the way, he has declared is the light of his life. I feel for that woman and for others like her. No woman should ever have to be valued for her ability to reproduce alone. No woman should suffer the inhumanity of being a uterus first. It's unfair and, frankly, disappointing. I got lucky with Matt, he cherishes me as a person, a luck I would never have had with my first husband. I just hope that he's right and I'm enough because babies will never be a part of our future together.