fertility panic

Here’s what we don’t talk about when we talk about having it all: mothering less. Not willful child negligence, but simply having one kid, and no more.

I’ve watched most of my friends tread into the tunnel of second children, few of them to emerge as how I remember their former engaged selves. They tell me there’s hardly the time to even consider maintaining a self.  “You don’t have any idea how hard it is—it’s more than twice as hard,” many of them say repeatedly, impatient and dazed. It’s true. Our family life, busy with plentiful travel, the delights of urban living, late night rock shows and dinner parties, and the frequent freedom to binge on a novel over a …

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You may have seen the Motherlode post written by an unhappy only child this week in the New York Times. It’s fairly typical of its ilk: my mother wanted more children, and I wanted siblings, and therefore an only childhood is a miserable thing.  The only data points the author offers are on the rising number of only children in America.  According to her anecdotal experience, this is a terrible thing.

Perhaps without knowing it, the author–a public relations specialist and essayist–reveals what may be the two surest ways to lay the groundwork for unhappy onliness.  It starts a generation earlier than you’d think, with our parents’ longing. She writes: ”For my parents, having an only child was not a …

Otis reading my Time article on only children.

From the when things start getting real files: I wanted to share an email exchange I had with my dear friend Julia this morning. Julia is a psychologist in Santa Cruz, married to a singer-songwriter named Nels, raising an awesome kid names Otis.  We met in pre-natal yoga in Brooklyn (still the only yoga class I’ve taken—I think I have 9 sessions left on a 10 pack if anyone in Brooklyn wants it).  The six of us, would have dinner on Friday nights, a little chosen family, until Julia’s work moved them across the country.  We are sisters in angst. Today, Julia more than myself (I have dibs on tomorrow).  I thought these angsty missives might be relatable.  Lord knows …

How liberating!

This month, the Center for Disease Control reported that birth rates had dropped again, for the fourth year in a row, bottoming out under 4 million babies born for the first time since 1998.  Commentators immediately rushed to their laptop, ringing the alarm bells to fault the economy for our flaccid national desire to procreate. To be sure, low fertility accompanies a weak economy without fail. But to blame the markets for what happens in our bedrooms misses a radical reshaping of our worldview. It’s not just the economy, it’s liberation. The pursuit of happiness has emerged as our new national ideology, trumping the age-old belief that parental duty is the very definition, of adulthood.  Some think it’s the height …