I was dog-sitting Penny, Jack’s dachshund, when I got a text from Jack himself: “I’ve got baby fever.”
My immediate thought was, “You should probably go see your doctor.” Not that I’ve never had baby fever myself—my mother would love nothing more than having a grandchild. (And since I’m an only child, I’m her Obi-Wan Kenobi.) Not to mention I get dog fever just about every time I go outside and see some well-to-do gay couple walking their proud show poodle. (Then I remember how much easier it is to have a cat—sure, you have to clean their shit out of a box, but at least you don’t have to take them outside three times a day.)
“If you married your boyfriend when I told you to, you’d be ready to have a baby,” I text instead. He and his boyfriend have been together practically the full length of our friendship, but he hasn’t proposed yet. Sometimes I have to remind myself that not everyone is as obsessed with marriage as I am.
“I want a more relaxing job first,” he responded. Penny started jumping all over me, as if she knew I was texting her daddy. I decided to take her on a walk through Central Park.
Strolling through the park, ready to pick up shit at any moment, I thought about the reality of Jack having a kid. I never thought about it seriously: Our lives seem complicated as is. Then again, a lot of the kids I went to high school with already have children—I often think about what would have happened if I didn’t move to New York, if I stayed in Iowa. Would I have a family by now?
I always used to envision I would. I got engaged at 19, and the plan was to move to Minnesota when I graduated college. At 29 years old, I definitely expected to have at least one kid, if not two. Then again, I also expected to have several books published by now—life has a way of going in its own direction, not necessarily the direction you intended.
At 22, I made the choice to move to New York City and try the starving artist life. I might not be starving anymore, but I definitely don’t make enough money to raise a kid—and while Jack does, he doesn’t have the time.
After bagging a shit way too big to be believed it came out of Penny, I wondered how people found the balance. How does one juggle raising a kid, maintaining a relationship and working? Not to mention, if it’s a “pays-the-bills” job, how to you additionally juggle pursuing your dreams?
Do I have to pick and choose, or is there a way to have it all? (And will I still be able to afford designer clothes? Both for myself and my child?)
I took Penny home, deciding that maybe James and I should get a dog first. I went on eBay and typed in “Designer Dog Collars.”