Monday, July 7, 2014
Thank You, Cameron Diaz
"It's so much more work to have children. To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for - I didn't take that on. . . . A baby - that's all day, every day for 18 years. Not having a baby might really make things easier, but that doesn't make it an easy decision. I like protecting people, but I was never drawn to being a mother."
As the universe is wont to do, panties started bunching up all over the place. Diaz was accused of being selfish, work obsessed, and not doing what was natural for a human being. People magazine, one of the more reputable celebrity smut rags, put out an online poll that asked simply: Is Cameron being selfish or selfless by choosing to not have kids?
I know at this point I shouldn't be perturbed by the ironies in our culture, let alone the uniquely weird phenomenon that is celebrity culture, but I did find myself wondering what exactly the biggest issue was for the average person who found Diaz's choice not to have children irritating.
I thought at first the issue was that it was a female choosing not to be a mother. I could roll my eyes at another sexist example of how far we haven't come in accepting that being a woman doesn't mean being a mother. But then I read the interview again and wonder if it doesn't hit all of us who have chosen to be parents in the gut. The secret, guilt inducing gut where we hide our fears that somehow we are the only humans in the universe who feel this way about being a parent.
I could be (*enter your noun or verb here*) if I didn't have children.
Mine is that I could be a Family Nurse Practitioner if I didn't have children.
I could run every day if I didn't have children.
I could take Thai cooking classes if I didn't have children.
I could be making a six figure salary if I didn't have children.
I could paint our bedroom if I didn't have children.
I could take Grant on the trip to Rome he has been wanting to take if I didn't have children.
I could sleep for 10 hours a night if I didn't have children.
I could put mascara on every day if I didn't have children.
As I was making this mental list a few days ago, I was sitting in a chair alone in a hallway outside our Disney Resort hotel room crying my theoretical mascara off. We had been on vacation with Grant's family for 7 days and I was exhausted. We had been going from breakfast to evening swim time every single day and I was crawling over the finish line. It was magical and super fantastic and the photos are literally picture perfect, but I was all funned out. And I just wanted to be alone. I wanted to do something that didn't involve strollers or ice cream or big furry chipmunks. I was exhausted of the stress of being extra vigilant as our little parade navigated the swells of people in the parks, constantly checking that both my children were still with us, thinking about sunscreen and Fast Pass times and hydration and the little Buzz Lightyear that came on the straw of Knox's lemonade at that last restaurant... I didn't want any responsibility at all. I wanted to do something for ME.
And as I thought about the first things that came to mind as I read this interview with Cameron, my crying changed over to chuckling at the sheer vapidness of all my unrealized or delayed dreams. Would I really trade Knox to learn how to make Pad Thai? Give up Pursy for a chance to sleep until after sunrise? There isn't anything that I want to do that I won't either be able to do at some point, or already do with the "help" of my children. (think: my morning makeup routine usually involves Knox practicing with my eyelash curler. kind of annoying if I am in a hurry but super cute)
In my imagination, if I just had more time to myself I would be an exceptional human being. Well read, extensively traveled, perfectly coiffed, actively involved in community and church, trailblazing in my profession, the perfect match to my exceptional human husband at every party...
Cameron Diaz realized that children are a gargantuan responsibility and she chose not to take it on.
And reading her honest words about how much easier life is without children made her amazing body on the cover of Esquire look more realistic then fake. She actually is that gorgeous and all her hard work to be successful has paid off. She made a choice knowing herself and what she wanted with life. I am completely happy for her.
My decision to have children has paid off for me too. We are a crazy parade of laughter and tears and hopes and fears (my apologies to anyone who knows the Small World song and now has it stuck in their head like I do after 17 times around in the little boat ride...) but all the things I DO with children makes the above list of things I would do without them look very small. It makes the days I go for a run even more exceptional. It makes my mascara look amazing on the days it gets done. The weekend I painted the downstairs bathroom I shamelessly lauded my ability to "do it all". My puny paycheck that I bring in from my one day a week of work lets our family breathe a little easier. The sleeping bit??...there is always more coffee.
And when I am humble enough to realize it, the things I do in a day that have absolutely nothing to do with me are the best parts. The time I spend with my children getting to know them and teaching them and hanging out with them and loving on them and introducing them to the world are the reason I get out of bed in the morning right now. It isn't about me, it's about me as their Mama.
And we have a great Thai restaurant down the street when I get in the mood for Red Curry and Spring Rolls...