1968. Karen is pregnant. Brian is her boyfriend/father of her baby. Karen is hugely upset, sad and ashamed. She has decided to have the baby and give it up for adoption. Karen’s parents are very angry at Karen for “ruining her life” and yet have been supportive of her decision. They are not in touch with Brian’s family. Brian is going to college and feels bad but his parent’s do not want him to get involved with this “inconvenience” and “Karen’s neediness”. Karen’s baby is adopted by a lovely family and has a great life and recently reached out and found Karen. All is good.
2013. Lauren and Justin are pregnant. They have been together 7 years. Lauren and Justin are very excited to be parents and have decided to have a big baby event for all their friends and family after they tell their folks they are pregnant. Post that Lauren and Justin are thinking they might start saving for a house and get married in a few years. They both have lots of student loans but some pretty good job prospects if they decide to use all their skills and experiences. All is good.
Fabulous Over 60 women are slightly, shall we say, confused about all this. They were or knew “Karen”. We changed the culture and the laws so that there would be (and are) a lot less “Karens”. We learned from tough experiences that the way to deal with adversity was to move forward. We dealt with sexism and other ills by taking the high road and the private approach—remember “don’t let them see you sweat”? Look, act, and be confident and focused on work and career. Be self-responsible. Don’t rely on your teacher’s license or your man to give you a life. Invent your own. Have or don’t have children but make little or no fuss about it.
As the mother, aunt or stepmother of Lauren, we are sort of baffled by the whole idea of couple pregnancy and glorification of having a baby and celebration of what is after all just life. We knew the way “Karen” was thought of and treated was idiotic—but this new approach actually strikes many of us as equally idiotic. Is having a baby really this big of a deal? Does having children and their photos at work need to replace our drab offices where we didn’t dare put anything that didn’t look “professional”? We bite our tongues being much more emotionally intelligent than our parents—but we want to have this conversation or at least mumble that this is stupid. But it sounds, and likely is, bitter and flat. Being a “kill joy” as we used to call it is not nice, not right and not the fabulous woman’s strategy.
Yes, times have changed, but some realities are still with us—we changed many things but we didn’t make it easy to balance work and family. Young women have it easier in some ways—but the life of women with children and work outside the home is still a tough struggle, even if they get a co-ed baby shower with Greg describing himself as “pregnant” when she is.
As Fabulous Over 60 women we continue to break ground by pointing this out and being supportive—no group of women ever has it easy. Mentoring with an understanding of the 21st century realities is our best strategy. That and trying not to gag when we are invited to a co-ed baby shower where people STILL have to sit through those endless boring presents.