Mommyhood Is HotJohneen Manning
From the looks of it, the "Prego Club" is recruiting, with a vengeance. While black may be back, and plum may rule the runway, this year nothing is quite as fashionable as having a baby.
As with all other trends, the celebrities are leading the pack, with an unprecedented number of superstars sporting a bump, newborn babes or tiny-tots, including Katie Holmes, Britney Spears, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Garner, Heidi Klum, Holly Hunter, Talisa Soto, Melissa Joan Hart, Gwyneth Paltrow and of course we're all waiting with bated breath for Demi and Asthon and Brad and Angelina to drop the baby bomb. Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields, Courtney Cox, even Melania Trump's doing it. It would seem that being a mommy is tr's hip, or as Paris Hilton would say: It's hot. Not that she's saying it... just yet, anyway.
"With the booming enrollment of late in the Prego Club it seems that more and more women are stepping up to the plate, whether part of a parenting team or solo."
More and more women are hearing (and listening to) their biological clocks, and deciding that there is no time like the present to embrace motherhood, regardless of their marital status. According to ChildTrends Databank, in 2003 a little over one third all births in the US were to unmarried women, many of whom are professional women actively choosing to have children with their boyfriends (out of wedlock) or even on their own.
The reality is that single mothers today look more like Sex and the City's Miranda (a professional mature woman) than DeGrassi's Spike (a pregnant teen). Unmarried motherhood is no longer just a teen phenomenon; in fact, teen pregnancies are on the decline. The 2000 U.S. census reports that roughly 40 percent of never-married women in their 30s have a kid.
As the teen pregnancy rate continues to drop, pregnancy among women in their mid-to late 20s and 30s is skyrocketing; the rush to beat the biological clock and have children before fertility complications become an issue is intensifying. What's behind this trend?
A Contract Doesn't Make a Family
Prego membership is on the rise—compare this to our mothers' generation where only 5.3 percent of births were to single mothers in the 1960s. Experts attribute this at least in part to the rise of cohabiting unions—by the mid 1990s 40 percent of nonmarital births occurred to women in cohabiting unions. Increasing numbers of couples are choosing the "Unmarried with Children" lifestyle, following in the footsteps of celebrity trailblazers such as Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell (who have been an unmarried item for 23 years and are parents together of son, Wyatt) and Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (a happily unmarried item since 1988 and parents together of boys Jack and Miles).
Some cohabiting duos often do take that march down the aisle when they find that a third family member is on the way, but with the dismal track record of marriage (one in two ending in divorce) many people have a difficult time buying into all that 'till death do us part' stuff.
Ironically, at a time when the face of marriage is changing radically - lurching further and further from its traditional roots and expanding to embrace same-sex unions - many couples are coming to the conclusion that you don't need a legally binding contract to create a happy, healthy family.
Over the last 15 years, there has been a 70 percent surge in cohabiting, unmarried couples, many of whom are making the decision to take the nontraditional route of creating loving families where Mommy isn't married to Daddy.
Marriage Isn't An Option
It's getting harder to find a non-severely-dysfunctional man, and the older you get, the harder it becomes. Perhaps this is because so many of us focus on career development, getting BEDs, LLBs, MBAs, PHDs, and an assortment of other hard-earned letters during our 20s (the years our mothers were popping out babies). Whatever the reason, it's not uncommon for a woman to reach 30 without a M-A-N. But that doesn't mean we don't still hear the incessant pounding of our biological clocks. When the alarm goes off and Mr. Right is M.I.A., many women are taking parenting into their own hands.
Some turn to sperm banks or talk to male friends about co parenting, and others will try to get pregnant the old fashioned way—with or without sharing their intentions with the guy of choice (not recommended, ladies).
Other women, such as Angelina Jolie, Calista Flockhart, Sharon Stone, and (possibly soon) Kristin Davis are looking to adoption to create a beautiful family regardless of whether or not a man is in the picture.
While single parenting is a challenge - whether you planned it that way or that's just how it ended up - the upside is that women today don't always need men for economic stability as was the case for generations past.
The downside of being a single mother goes beyond the lack physical and emotional support a partner imparts; men play a critical role in the emotional development of children, both girls and boys. Fathers provide children with a male role model, helping sons with the development of their male identities and helping daughters create healthy male/female relationships.
Whether in or out of wedlock, with a partner or solo, bringing a child into the world is the most life-changing decision step you can take. Once the in vogue bump has disappeared and baby has arrived, there's no going back. Raising children requires tremendous commitment, emotional energy, physical stability, and most importantly, love.
With the booming enrollment of late in the Prego Club it seems that more and more women are stepping up to the plate, whether part of a parenting team or solo.
If nothing else, 2006 will be remembered as a very fertile year.Johneen Manning is Editor-In-Chief of GKFA, a hip, savvy & fresh online magazine for the 'Sex and the City' generation of women.
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