I guess what's worrying me is that this isn't a function of age, like I thought I was — it's just ME, and maybe I will never be ready to be a (good) parent.
How do I stop comparing myself with others who have already taken the plunge?
— What's Wrong With Me
What’s Wrong With Me: What is it about pairing off and reproducing that turns our culture’s individuality worship on its head?
There is nothing wrong with anyone who wants something different from what the friend pack wants (unless it’s a pathological something, obviously, like extra-pulp OJ).
And the best people in general with the best outcomes for society are the ones who know themselves well and chart their life courses accordingly.
It is not selfish to opt out of kids.
I’m not sure how to advise you to stop comparing, because that’s one of the hardest things to pull off — to silence one’s own self-doubt.
But since you (apparently) haven’t yet tried moving the spotlight off babies and onto individuality, and owning your kid ambivalence — then normalizing it, then celebrating it, as long as you’re able to do so without pointing at the parents and saying, “Watch me go to brunch, suckers,” except in the privacy of your imagination — then that’s where I suggest you start.
Dear Carolyn: My husband just started working in an office after many years of being his own boss. He seems to find it terribly unfair that he has to clock in and out, attend meetings that aren't 100 percent relevant to him and account for his time by reporting to a boss. I'm a little baffled by how strongly he chafes at things that are, to me, pretty typical of office life. Is there a better response than "get used to it"?
— That's Life
That’s Life: “Get used to it” (translation: “Omg, you freaking whiner”) is much sharper-edged than “You’ll get used to it” (“I understand, it’s a big adjustment”). So maybe one more word is all you need.
Or, a lot more words: “I understand. Please see it from my position, though, as someone who has always dealt with these things.”
Or medium words: “Pay attention, move up, maybe you can change things.”
I recommend not adding all the words about the reality of it: “You’ve tasted autonomy, so of course you’re going to feel its absence much more acutely, maybe forever, than the rest of us, who were institutionalized before we fully realized what was happening.” Because then you’ll all be bummed out.