Richson: Staying 'like, independent'


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Over the weekend, my roommates and I discussed the future, not surprising, because the majority of us are seniors. Somehow, the topic of having kids came up, and we all mutually agreed that we couldn’t wait to do “cute” things such as wrapping our kids’ Christmas presents in alarmingly well-coordinated wrapping paper prints or take them to see Santa at the mall.

Then the topic of working and being a mom also came up, to which I added that I still planned to have a career once I do have kids.

One of my roommates and best friends replied that he couldn’t see me having kids because I’m “like, independent,” after which I (in his words) “went off like a bomb.”

I’m “like, independent”? Pause. What does this even mean? I took it as an affront to my ability as an ambitious person to care for someone other than myself.

Don’t get me wrong, having kids is not in the cards for me in the remotely near future. Not only am I one of the most fiscally irresponsible people I know, but (to quote an underrated Trick Daddy song from the ’90s): I got plans.

But am I somehow selfish and coldhearted and un-motherly because I have a mental map of what I want the next four years of my life to look like? Because it doesn’t bother me that I live numerous plane rides away from my family if it means getting the education I want?

I am not a product of my environment. My mom is a stay-at-home mom, and she rocks at it (although she never did teach me how to braid hair, so she failed in that regard). I hope I can be an awesome mom, too. But all I’m saying is, there are other things I want to do, like go to graduate school, maybe write a book some day, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, go to Ireland again and actually finish a pint of Guinness despite the fact that I find it disgusting … plans.

But having plans and ambition shouldn’t come at the cost of others questioning your fitness for motherhood.

I’m not sorry that I want a master’s degree. I’m not sorry that I love to travel, because a picture or a brochure will never be enough for me. I’m not sorry that I enjoy watching foreign films just as much as I do watching YouTube videos of babies. I’m not sorry that I want to “have it all.”

I’m sure there will always be haters out there who believe in the “something’s gotta give” mantra that at some point, either your career or your children suffer. I also don’t wish to detract from all that stay-at-home moms do; as the oldest of four kids, I can attest to my mother’s stoic exhaustion. She is a saint, a fact that is reaffirmed every time my perfectly capable 16-year-old brother whines, “Mommy, can you make me pancakes?” because he knows that she will.

Maybe I’m too naïve and young to know any better; maybe I’ll have a kid, and the stars will align, and I will recognize that as the purpose in life I’ve been waiting for. But until then, I’ll stay “like, independent.”

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