published Friday, February 17th, 2012

Leber: From Barbie to baby ... the clock is ticking ...

In the Leber family, "My Cousin Vinny" stands high on the list of favorite movies.

At lunch recently, my visiting father made reference to there being a bit of pressure on me, reproductively speaking. I pictured Marisa Tomei stomping her foot and yelling at her long-time partner about her "biological clock ticking like this" even before he mentioned it.

It's amazing how quickly time flips, isn't it? I could swear, it was less than a year ago that my parents seemed horrified at the notion of my having a child (no, this is not a column announcing my pregnancy). Now, at 31, I'm hearing about biological clocks and their friends' grandchildren. I'm pretty sure the sentence "you're not getting any younger" has been bandied about on several occasions.

This is true. No one is getting any younger. The clock is, indeed, ticking. Provided I'm as healthy as my doctors seem to think I am, however, there are no alarm bells clanging at this particular point in time.

At least, this is the case as far as physiology is concerned. Mentally/emotionally/sociologically, however, we seem to have an obsession with time lines.

"I've missed my deadline to make my first million before 25," a friend informed me recently.

I countered that I've missed a whole hit parade of deadlines.

Where do we get those anyway? That arbitrary notion that by age X, we need to have done Y, Z or Q; otherwise, we're somehow behind the curve, or worse, somehow not as good as our contemporaries. In effect, milestones are to young adults what Barbie dolls and action figures are to third-graders. They're cool toys, made even cooler by the fact that our friends covet them.

Twenty-five years later, babies are the new Barbies. Sometimes we want certain things, in part, because our friends have them, and because they seem really spiffy in the ads. This is especially true if you don't have a lot of other bragging rights.

"I think if you're not super-successful in your career or some other endeavor by age 30, you start having kids so you can have something to be proud of," I mused to the aforementioned friend. "It's validating."

I'm not lambasting anyone's choice to have children or not have children. I want children. I just don't enjoy feeling like I'm on not just a biological clock, but on a socio-cultural clock to start popping them out. I don't especially care for the knowledge that I'll suddenly be considered more worthy of certain respect, even reverence, once I have children.

Not every woman wants to be a mother, and this does not make her any less respectable than a woman who does. Unfortunately, no matter how loudly that fact might be proclaimed, there are many who won't be able to hear it over the buzz of bouncing baby adverts.

Indeed, I can't help but wonder whether Marisa Tomei was really hearing the loud ticking of her own biological clock, or if the sound was, instead, the loud hum of society informing her that she, too, could be one of the popular girls in the third grade, if only she purchased the newest Barbie.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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