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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Eating for one…eternally

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LDC. 12:00 pm on Wednesday afternoon. My friend and I were enjoying our typical weekday lunch when she leaned slightly over her plate and said she needed to get something off of her chest. “One of my good friends from back home is pregnant and engaged and I just feel like I need to talk about it.” I don’t know this friend. I only know that my reaction was far greater than I expected. I was sort of dumbfounded. Here was a girl my age, having a child and attempting to get married before that. It made my head spin.

Our generation grew up in a time that drew a lot of attention to young mothers. They had TV shows and spin-offs, were plastered on the covers of magazines like Ok and People, and sat down for interviews with talk-show hosts. In a way, they were almost glorified. I never understood it. Here I was, studying for my classes and preparing for SAT’s to get into schools like Carleton while other teenagers around the country were preparing for something quite different. I had a weird, uncomfortable feeling about the whole thing. I bought into the stigma that young mothers are not always the best mothers, and I still do. It’s rather narrow-minded of me, and probably a lot of it has to do with the fact my mother was in her forties when she had my sister and me. Never did I take it to heart, however. Until Wednesday when my mind was spinning.

Carleton students are extremely busy. All college students have lives that are packed with academics, clubs, sports, and socializing. We get overwhelmed with workloads (shoutout to eighth week) and worry about trivial things like if our crush will text us back. A lot of times it feels as though we don’t have time to take a step back and really just take care of ourselves. So, imagine yourself at your most stressed out level. Now add a screaming, squirming baby. The notion threw me for a loop. I can barely take care of myself, let alone a child! How does one transition from being, really, a child themselves to an adult? And not even a regular adult, but the most mature adult on the planet: a parent. What would you have to give up? I sort of see having a child as giving up your own life. This may sound drastic, but it makes sense. No longer can you ever enjoy a moment of peace and quiet to yourself. No longer can you leave the house whenever you want to go catch up with friends. No, you have to stay home changing diapers and god forbid watch reruns of the Teletubbies on television at 6:00 am. You are the 24 hour watch tower of a little creature that cannot fend for itself. You are their lifeline, and that’s a ridiculously scary thought.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the idea of parenthood freaks me out. And maybe it should! There’s no way on the planet I’d keep a child now, and probably not for at least another ten years. I need to live my life and explore as many options as possible before actually settling down and making a life-altering decision. And I feel like this isn’t a completely ridiculous notion, especially at Carleton. We’re a bunch of high achieving, highly stressed students who seek to do our best academically and achieve the idealized liberal arts value of a “well-balanced” human. We are largely obsessed with the future; what’s coming up in our lives, how Carleton will help us reach our goals, and how there’s no possible way anything could slow us down from reaching these goals. Kids are just not part of the immediate future for me. So if one of my good friends from home told me she, or he, was expecting, I don’t think I could possibly be that excited. They would most likely be giving up their college education and most likely settle for staying home or struggling to find a decent-paying job, not just for months after the baby is born, but maybe for their whole lives. And I just couldn’t genuinely support that. I could put on a fake smile, buy a baby shower gift, and squeeze the child for a second or two. But at the end of the day, I’d dash off in a heartbeat to keep living my own, selfish life.

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