So it turns out I’m not having a mini Lauren this year. I know there are thousands of women wishing for that very gift at this exact moment, so I feel bad saying, “Thank God!” but I’m keeping it real. Thank God.
I think about so many of my friends, so worried during their early 20′s about getting pregnant, but suddenly now that they want one, for some its harder than they thought. One friend of mine who’s trying, joked with me, “Man, had I known it was so hard for me to get pregnant, I could have had a lot more fun the past 10 years!” And other friends of mine seem to have had absolutely no problem. I wonder where I will fall on that continuum.
I’ve always wanted to be a mom, even proclaiming I wanted 10 kids (which I’m now reconsidering,) but it wasn’t until recently that I could actually imagine it. At 28, I feel old enough to do it, and yet I am experiencing the common female conundrum: what to do with the timing of career and family?
In a job that relies entirely on physical fitness, there is no room for pregnancy or mat. leave. Sure, people have babies and come back to racing, but not generally after two years of sucking it up big time. The smartest time is after a great season of racing, between Olympic games. You miss a year, but its no different from missing a year due to injury…people come back from that all the time. Your incredible base and previous fitness keeps you from degenerating physically too much during pregnancy. But to take a year off when you haven’t been at peak fitness in quite some time…much too risky if you have any hope of making the 2012 Olympic Team.
Its not as if I spend all my time debating having a kid or not. I don’t. I guess I’m just finally at the age where it is a part of my life equation, an equation that becomes more difficult to simplify as you grow older.
Its kind of a cruel joke in a way that a woman’s prime years for career development, athletic or otherwise, are also their prime years for child bearing. In the corporate world, you can start over after you have kids if you are so inclined/supported. In running, you can not. You cannot just say, “oh, I’ll just take 6 years off and run part time until my kids are old enough to go to kindergarten and then I’ll jump into building my career.” Unlike the corporate world, athletics has a definite window that is not often hospitable to women over 35.
At some point in my career, I’ll have to make these hard choices. Take that year off. Start my family. But the only possible window in this Olympic cycle, for me, has already passed. So unless I wake up at the end of this 2010 journal on October 1st saying, “Dude. I’m over this running stuff,” kids will have to be filed away for post 2012 consideration. And I’m cool with that.