Planting: a millennial’s guide to motherhood.
I’m a millennial to my core. I fall in the correct age range. I took a year off after college to accumulate “experiences.” I completed a degree in theology which, as my grandmother keeps reminding me, will never come to any practical use or gainful employment. Like every 18-35 year old with their parents’ Netflix password, I binge-watched Stranger Things. (It was rad.)
Vocationally unmoored, prone to frequent brunches, convinced I have a unique creative talent of which the wider world should not be deprived, I’ve fit the criteria a little too closely until now.
But now, all of a sudden, my life is merged with a tiny dependent I’ve never met but am bound to in every way.
The first month I stopped taking my birth control, every day was an adventure. I bought a 25-pack of cheap pregnancy tests on Amazon prime and took one nearly every morning.
I came to expect it. The one dark red line, clear as a stop sign on the road. Not pregnant.
Then one day I took the test, went downstairs for breakfast, and forgot all about it as I perused Facebook and read the Skimm. When I came upstairs an hour later, I almost tossed it. But then I noticed a faint red smudge in the fluorescents of my bathroom.
I snapped a picture on my iPhone and uploaded it to my computer, fiddling with the contrast. It looked like a second line.
“I think I might be pregnant, lol,” I texted to my sister.
“Look at this and see if it looks positive. Also, Flight of the Concords is coming to Nashville, I think we might get tickets.”
I went upstairs to take another one. This one came back with two solid, bold red lines. I sent it to Abby.
“That one’s not faint. Girl, you knocked up.”
Even as I read the words, I felt something in me clam up. It was funny until it was real.
Though we zinged text messages back and forth like it was our full-time job, I waited a month to tell my closest friends. Both around my age–late 20s–one was applying to medical school and the other was working as a server to save money to move to LA and pursue singing.
I watched their dreams play out over iMessage, feeling suburban and elderly in the wind tunnel of their adventures.
Pregnancy always seemed so beautiful in its pure idea form. On the horizon, a long, long way away.
“My adventures are over,” I told my husband as we sat in the waiting room, surrounded by women with taut, round bellies and their suited husbands, tapping away at smartphones.
“Kids are an adventure,” he says, but his voice sounds distant and uncertain, as he stares at the tiny plastic kitchen in the kid’s corner.
In my early 20s, I never bought furniture or art or anything that would hinder me the next time I wanted to move to Canada or live in an intentional community house for six months, or move home for free rent.
A classic millennial.
I spent so much of my 20s traipsing around the planet because I wanted to become an interesting person, someone who’d lived a whole life.
Jesus never mentions self-actualization. For him, we are transformed when we learn to care for others more wholeheartedly than ourselves, not when we sample wine on a heavily Instagrammed trip to California.
Maybe self-development as its own end can only work as a driving life philosophy for so long.
My parents never got to work in Glacier National Park or backpack around Europe, but still provided the solid home base that allowed me to venture far away. When I wrecked a rented scooter in Switzerland, they helped me pay the bill so I could come home. When I couldn’t find a job, they let me crash at their home and acted like they were happy to have me there.
So now I try to learn the art of tending things. I start growing my own herbs and (because I’m still a millennial) a collection of succulents. My mother-in-law has a printed rock in her backyard that reads, “As the garden grows, so does the gardener.” I try to trust that my own development doesn’t stop when I care for someone else–that maybe it blooms even more when I direct my attention outward.
This baby will need its own home to grow out of. It will need someone who has rooted down in one place, so that one day it can fly off toward its own adventures.