TODAY IN LIFE CHANGING DECISIONS TAKEN LIGHTLY:
I am at a crossroads. Many people would argue that anyone could say that about any time in their life ever, but this crossroads of mine is particularly damned. I am a 29-year-old recently married freelance writer. My husband and I have a cat, a dog, and a mid-priced rental apartment in Queens. “Well shit, Phaea has everything!” you might say, and it certainly does feel that way. My little family loves me and I love them. We spend Saturday nights together in the living room hanging out, playing Nintendo, and licking ourselves. (Note: not all family members participate in all previously listed activities.) I work, he works, we pay bills, we talk about things we’d like to write, occasionally find time to write them. My life is like, as Henry Rollins once said, “… floating in luke-warm water…” Its comfortable, non-threatening, and it could easily drown you.
The thing about life is that it has to move forward, and it’s usually best to move forward with it. Per my career, I really like working as a writer. I’m ok at it now. I’d like to get better. And it occurred to me that some formal training might be the next appropriate step. Per my home life, I am insane for a baby. I seem to have a good thing going with the little family I’ve got and there’s space for one more tiny playmate. Thus my dilemma: Should I have a baby or should I go back to school for a MFA in creative non-fiction?
Has anyone else ever been in this position? Ladies?
The best way to make a decision this serious would be, of course, to pit a baby against a MFA in creative non-fiction in a battle to the death! But the second best way is an arbitrary point system based on only my most surface concerns. Let’s go:
Opening Argument: I want a baby. I also want a MFA in creative non-fiction. 1 point each.
Time Commitment: Baby would only take 9 months and then I get a baby. Grad school would take 2 years and then I get a MFA in creative non-fiction. I hate waiting for things, so 1 point for baby.
Attention: Baby will always get me attention. MFA in creative non-fiction will not. Point for baby.
Day Job Avoidance: Being in grad school means you don’t work; you’re just in school. Having a baby means you don’t work, at least for a few years. But, being in grad school potentially helps you get a career, and a baby definitely doesn’t. Point for MFA.
Freedom: MFA in creative non-fiction will keep me away from my home and my husband. Baby will keep me at home, but potentially away from my husband. 0 points.
Pride: MFA in creative non-fiction will make me proud. Baby will make me prouder. Point for baby.
Bang for your Buck: While the college experience ends with after my thesis is done, a MFA in creative non-fiction is forever. So is a baby. 1 point each.
Laziness: Both baby and MFA in creative non-fiction would help me put off getting a “career” a little longer! 1 point each. However, both are a lot of work. – 1 point each. However, however no matter what you have to travel to a school for a MFA in creative non-fiction. Point for baby.
Convenience: I can get a MFA in creative non-fiction by riding the train to my college or university. If I get a baby I’ll probably have to move to Mamaroneck, NY. Point for MFA.
Colic: MFA in creative non-fiction doesn’t cry or fuss. Baby cries a lot and shits everywhere. Point for MFA.
Cuddles: MFA will not cuddle with me. Baby will cuddle with me, and smile! Point for Baby.
Productiveness: I could spend my time in grad school writing a book! Baby would not let me write a book, most likely. Baby is a time thief. Point for MFA.
Character Flaws: Grad school makes me more selfish. Baby forces me think of the baby first. Reluctant point for Baby.
Appearances: MFA in creative non-fiction will give me a second degree, making me smarter. Baby will give me a bigger family, which makes me look mature. Point each.
Both will force people to take me more seriously! Double points.
Financial Aid: MFA costs $50,000, but I can potentially get scholarships. Baby costs a lot and there are no grants for procreation. Point for MFA.
Peer Pressure: Most of my married girlfriends are IN grad school, so a MFA in creative non- fiction seems normal. None of them have a baby, so a baby seems weird. Point for MFA. Counter argument: If I have the first baby amongst my friend, I will seem exotic to them and potentially get treated like I am more special. Point for Baby.
Dangle Baby: My husband could get one of those baby holders that dangles the baby off his chest, which would be adorable. He could not dangle an MFA in creative non-fiction. Side bar: My husband also will openly mock me for the MFA in creative non-fiction. He thinks grad school is a waste of time. Point for baby.
The Ugly Truth: It’s easy to have a baby after grad school but hard to go to grad school after a baby. Point for MFA, but it’s a depressing point. I don’t want to give up on of these dreams for the other. I don’t even want to put off one of these dreams for the other. I want them both, and I want them both now.
Baby- 11 points
MFA - 11 points.
Of course. This must be one of those terrible “adult” decisions I’ve heard so much about. But even without a clear winner at least I can be grateful I have my husband, my dog, my cat, my mid-priced rental apartment in Queens, and my luke-warm water life. And grateful that I’m lucky enough to even have this decision to make. I’ve heard from the old timers that living is a journey, so even if I don’t know what to do with it, I can enjoy having the life I’ve got.
Also, my husband claims he isn’t ready to have a baby. Whatever. I guess I should take that into consideration.