When I saw this title on the Daily Beast – “Career + Family = Solved,” and the topic was women freezing their eggs, I was irked.
Sure, sure. It’s a catchy headline. But all you do is postpone problems you run into a few years down the road, as those of us past the baby, toddler, and preschool stages of parenting know.
Personally, I believe that if a woman wants to freeze her eggs, whatever the reasons, that’s her business. And more power to those with the bucks and desire, if they gain peace of mind (and options) in the process.
Of course, following the statement that “egg freezing seems to offer the possibility of really having it all,” the article notes the price tag involved:
For between $11K-15K, a woman can undergo a round of egg freezing that includes 6 to 25 eggs; 8 to12 frozen eggs are needed for a successful pregnancy.
But positioning freezing eggs as a “have it all” strategy?
That’s just silly, unless you have the bank to foot the bill for help for the next 18 years, or a spouse/partner with flexibility in his or her job, or both.
Parenthood – motherhood – is about so much more than feeling a baby kick during pregnancy, so much more than those long nights of wailing and worrying before an infant settles into a tolerable pattern, so much more that sweet cheeks and giggles in the first year or two.
Parenting is a constant guessing game of concerns, compromises and yes, delights. It is nose-wiping, chauffeuring, teaching, listening, dealing with emotional and physical developments we don’t anticipate – and that’s if your child is basically healthy. It is instilling values, which we model. It is some five thousand days and nights of anticipating and responding, and taking a lot of grief for it in the process.
Of course. But it’s a tough job, even when all goes well.
So let’s stop pretending that just because you can conceive a child at 45 and give birth that you can be a good mother at 50 to a preschooler, or at 60 to a budding teen. Naturally, this doesn’t mean you can’t be a good mother. But why do we ignore the obvious?
Can we face the fact that delaying motherhood, however it is accomplished, doesn’t miraculously sidestep the need for flexible work options, partners that can be equally flexible, child care that won’t raid the college fund before we can deposit a dollar, or employment policies that allow a parent to care for a sick child?
Until we confront the cultural contradictions of our rhetoric and our actions, the necessity of social systems to provide a safety net for children and their working parents, early childhood education that is adequate and affordable and accessible… can we stop fooling ourselves? Let’s not even use the phrase ‘having it all,” much less paint a pretty picture – hello, trompe l’oeil? – thinking that technology and delaying parenthood will address the underlying issues that constrain families.