01 November 2010

The Reasoned Life

The baby gestates along without so much as a peep, things remaining quiet at the Pihlaja house. We decided to tell Naomi about the baby over lunch on Sunday. At first she stared at us without any comprehension and I thought, well, it’s probably too soon for her to understand. But when Yoko explained it as we are going to have another baby like Mei, suddenly Naomi started laughing hysterically. I don’t think she understands. In fact, I’m sure of it: every other day for the last couple of months she’s said that she has a baby in her stomache. Perhaps as Yoko starts to grow…

Although last week I wrote about the unreasonable nature of our decision to have a baby, I should probably concede that, like everything I do, there is more calculation involved than I would like to admit. July 2011, in terms of the next two to three years of our lives, is a pretty good slot for baby having. I will not be crazy with writing up yet and as I have more-or-less ruled out a post-doc application, I won’t have much hanging over me. Moreover, it will be summer break at Middlesex, so I won’t have to teach, and if we plan on leaving the country in 2012, we will probably not get a visa for the baby saving us £450. This will mean, unfortunately, that the baby cannot leave the country until we move or get work visas, but I will still have my passport to travel for job interviews if need be.

In larger, life-planning terms, it’s probably better for Yoko to have the baby sooner rather than later as waiting could mean that we get to a point where it is more difficult to get pregnant and/or the risks of having a baby are higher. Plus, having all the kids around the same time means that although we will have a rough time when they are all small, it will be condensed, and by the time I’m 35 the kids will be 10, 8, and 6. Sure, the cost of having a baby is high especially as a student, but realistically, we are comfortable enough. We’ll still be enjoying the benefits of the NHS in the summer and will have all the things we need for baby care and (if the baby is a girl) all the clothes too. Financial capital, at least at this point, will be a minor issue: that issue will come later, but my earning potential will increase with it.

In terms of my mental health capital (how far can we take this, Bourdieu?), making the decision allows me a bit of intellectual freedom as I don’t have to spend any mental energy on worrying about the potential or non-potential of having another baby every month. The decision is made–now I just have to do the work. Granted, this is a lot of work, but my mind enjoys the boundaries of knowing at least one thing in my life is settled for a couple of years. There is so much that is unsettled.

There is so much that is unsettled… yes, that is indeed true. I have spent two months thinking about what I want to do with the next step of my life. Early, I concede, too early to think about in practical terms, but the process of thinking about it, looking at jobs and imagining myself and our family in a different environment is actually a very useful exercise. It helps me think about what it is I want. Of course, I can’t imagine it perfectly and what I want and what I can have are two very different things. Still, this ship will have to turn at some point. If we are going to Japan, that process needs to start now. If nothing works out and the next step will come out of the blue (which I suspect), then I can accept that. Possibilities abound, I need to enjoy it rather than fearing it.