I was all set to rant about one specific problem with Meghan Daum’s silly New Yorker take-down of hit comedy This is 40. The writer’s insistence that a couple who started having kids young couldn’t be nearly as successful as Judd Apatow’s characters is straight out of the early mother myth books.
Young parenthood, as we continually hear, is supposed to render us incapable of moving forward in our careers because, y’all, people who have kids when they’re young are just a buncha lazy bums who couldn’t figure out how to work the birth control (if they even tried).
Except, get this. Daum isn’t talking about teen moms or even someone who started at the ripe young age of 22, like me.
Daum’s entire case is built on the assertion that it’s “implausible” that people who started having children at 27 could survive with “no outside financial support” and “drive a Lexus and a BMW, afford personal trainers, eastern healers, and therapists, and live in the kind of house (easily three million dollars, even in a down market) in which every room is a tasteful mélange of statement-piece furniture, imported rugs, fresh cut flowers, original art, and colorful, handcrafted children’s toys” by the time they were 40.
Wait, a second … 27?
I thought we were supposed to believe that this (fictional) couple were mere children when they spawned, too young to have already begun building solid careers, robbed of the time it takes to carve out a niche for yourself in the job market.
That’s five years AFTER the average American finishes up a four-year degree, and yet we’re supposed to carry on as if 27 is justthisside of puberty. And we wonder why potential employers have reported a rash of parents accompanying applicants to job interviews? Why just last month a 21-year-old college student had to get an order of protection from her own helicopter parents for stalking?
Daum isn’t responsible for the infantilization of 20-somethings in America, but she’s certainly bought into it.
By 27 I’d already owned my own house for seven years. I’d been an editor at one job, been back-up editor on another. I had been paying my own bills for nine years. I’d post this is why early motherhood worked for me; because I was a true adult even at 22.
In fact, it seems the only reason the successes of today’s so-called “early” parents are so shocking is because society has stopped expecting grown-ups to act like it.
Start treating your 20-year-olds, your 25-year-olds, your 27-year-olds like actual adults, America, and we can stop worrying that a 22-year-old mother doesn’t know what she’s getting into.
Are you sick of the “grown up” babies in America?
Image via thisis40movie.com