April 15, 2006

Maybe Baby: The Salon Crowd Wonders If They Should Reproduce

maybe_baby.jpgSo Salon has published an anthology of essays about deciding whether to become a parent. It's based on their "To Breed or Not To Breed?" series. It includes pieces by big name hipster-writer-dads like Rick Moody and Neal Pollack [note: listed in order of the number of movie adaptations of their work], and magazine guy Larry Smith [who's working on launching Smith Magazine, but don't be alarmed; it's not one of those O-type deals.] who's friends with a friend and former colleague from the days at Razorfish, who I ran into in the shvitz at the gym last night. [bloggers! you never know where your next post is coming from.]

Smith and his fiancee's story, "Daddy Dilemma," ran a year ago, and they did a followup as part of the book launch. It's good stuff, the kind of rambling soul-searching you'd usually have to go camping or drive cross country with a buddy to hear:

Everything about my 36 years on earth has pointed to career being the source of salvation, so I keep thinking I'll be satisfied when that's at the place I want it to be. But will it ever be? Won't the bar keep being raised? Isn't that what careerists do? Would a child make me see what's really important? You're a Cuervo Gold-slugging ass, lost and lonely, or worse ... until a child enters your life. Maybe. In all honesty, I can't say for sure that a child would do more for my contentment quotient than any number of professional goals. Hell, anyone can make a baby -- but only I can bring a really original new magazine into the world. [dude, if that's true, how 'bout two-bird-one-stoning it and start a really original new parenting magazine? -ed.]


There are reams of data available on women's choices, and next to none on men's. In one of the few official looks at male decision-making on having babies, a University of Montana study called "Men's Experience of Making the Decision to Have Their First Child" found that men talked mainly about their fears of what they would lose if they had a child: freedom, independence, and intimacy, for starters. "I was really struck at how little difference there was in how they talked about these potential losses, whether the man was 18 or 40," says study co-author Dr. Andrew Peterson. So there you have it: when we think about fatherhood, we don't think about what we'll gain, but what we'll lose. That's one sad statement. One that sounds awfully familiar.

Check out Larry Smith's "Daddy Dilemma," and the One-year followup, where Larry admits his "automotive clock" is ticking, at Salon [salon.com]
The book, Maybe Baby: [tooo long subtitle omitted. People, please.] is available at Amazon [amazon.com]

1 Comment

I read this book and am encouraging my husband to read it. He's on the fence about having children -- I think "waffling" was the word he used.

The book presents a very balanced view on life before and after the decision to have children or to have not. I couldn't help but see bits of myself in some of the stories. It calmed some of my fears and created a few healthy new ones, but it's a series of perspectives you really can't get by just talking to a circle of friends.

I would reccommend that "wafflers" check it out, as well as parents and non-parents looking for a different take on the subject or seeking to re-affirm their decision, whatever it may be.

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