So, I dunno if you know this, but Juliet is thirteen years old when the events of Romeo and Juliet take place, and when she says to her mother that marriage “is an honor I dream not of,” her mother replies “younger than you, here in Verona, ladies of esteem are made already mothers: by my count, I was your mother much upon these years that you are now a maid.”
I think in general we can all agree that in this day and age such a thing is ludicrous (I’d like to point out that it was also ludicrous in Shakespeare’s day – ladies certainly got married and popped out babies at a younger average age than we do now, but NOT thirteen) but it reminds me of the reaction I got from my father’s side of the family when my pregnancy and plan to place became public knowledge.
They weren’t mean about it or anything, they were just baffled. My dad grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and a lot of my aunts and uncles and their kids still live there, and they have a whole different set of priorities. I was absolutely on the upper class white girl conveyer belt: it was expected that I graduate from some fancy high school and then go to a top tier college and then spend a while getting all sorts of higher education and maybe travel and do other stuff and then get married and have babies. My mom had me when she was 39, after following that exact path (with some misadventures thrown in) so when I got pregnant at 20, I felt that when it came to family matters, I may as well have been 13.
Not so for my cousins in Kansas; they simply have different priorities. They’re smart, kind, loving, and wonderful people, but the order of their life milestones is shuffled differently from mine. Most of them got married and started having kids in their late teens, after graduating high school, and then when the kids were settled into preschool or kindergarten, they went back to get various degrees (my one cousin either recently graduated or is about to graduate from nursing school). So when they heard I was pregnant, it seemed like a totally normal and joyous occasion to them; they were congratulating me and celebrating before they heard the second part of the sentence: “and I’m placing him for adoption.”
I don’t think they judge me or look down on me for my choice, but I do think they just don’t understand how unbelievably ill-prepared I was (and am) to be a parent. They are all such great parents, too. They’ve had their trials and tribulations, and goodness knows they’ve been tested – the twelve-year-old daughter of my eldest Kansas cousin has severe cystic fibrosis, and just underwent a double lung transplant a few weeks ago, which she and the entire family weathered with laudable aplomb. They are all, for the most part (as far as one could wish it) happy and functional with the families that, from my perspective, they started way too early.
It makes me feel shitty, honestly, because I don’t know how to explain that it wasn’t about my numerical age. If you want to and are ready to have a baby at the age of 20, that’s what you can do. But for me, when it comes to babies and family and whatnot, 20 may as well have been 13. And I think we can all agree that, other ladies of esteem here in Verona aside, 13 is just too fucking young.
Danger’s birthday is fast approaching! He will be 2(!!!!!) on December 10th. Paul and Linda are coming to Philly on the 8th to celebrate with my family, and then Max Power and I will go up to NYC on the 10th (which is a Monday) to be with him on his real birthday. I still can’t believe it. Wasn’t he just born, like, yesterday? What is this nonsense?