Wandering the streets of Mexico City during the day, there’s no shortage of ladies. They are selling food, flowers and souvenirs in sidewalk stalls. They are cutting hair in chic salons. Having a leisurely lunch with co-workers. Walking to yoga with mats in tow. Pushing little ones in strollers.
But after dark, things change. The streets empty of females.
My second night here in Mexico City, I treated myself to dinner at a trendy eatery. I wasn’t surprised that there were no other lone females, but I was surprised that there were very few females in the restaurant at all. 80% of the tables were men with another man or two or a large party of 6-8 men. The balance was a man alone or a male/female couple on a date.
Where were the girls out for a drink after work? The two-to-four female friends catching up over dinner and drinks? Or two girls swiping through Tinder profiles sharing laughs and margaritas?
My mental rolodex considered a few possibilities:
- Perhaps I stumbled upon a gay restaurant. Not entirely unlikely. In the loves of my life, I count several gay men, so it’s reasonable to assume that I’d find comfort in a gay enclave. But alas, I was in the business district. And I have to say that even in the states, I’ve never been to an entirely gay restaurant — now a bar is another story…
- Perhaps it’s a Cantina – which according to my travel book is a place where men in the community gather. Ok…why would men need a place to gather.? Don’t they have strip clubs? But fine, lets say this place was a cantina, what’s the opposite for females?
- Perhaps the women are at home taking care of family. I WhatsApp’ed a friend from Chile (I know, a totally different country, but still Latin America so I thought he could shed some light. I asked him where are the females at night? He said at home cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids. And my response to him:
One of the reasons for this trip was to give me the space to decide whether or not I want kids. I’ve always been on the fence about the situation and now that I’m biologically running out of time, a fact I should have come to terms with years ago at age 35, I must decide.
Do I want to be committed for 18+ years to care for a child or (fill in the blank with anything else I think of)?
There are pros and cons to both, of course. At this point in my life, whichever choice I make is irreversible. And the option to do both is certainly more challenging since I would be raising a child alone. (I am completely separating my desire for a mate from this because I believe you can fall in love at any point in your lifetime. You don’t run out of time for that. You do however run out of time to create biological babies – and it’s too late for me to freeze my eggs.).
Being smacked in the face with women who aren’t even out in public in their own city screams of every fear I’ve ever had about being a parent.
I look at women who are mothers and I admire the loving, nurturing and care taking in them. I fear that it’s a skill I don’t possess. I have some personal limitations that have given me pause on procreation:
I’m no domestic diva – I prefer beauty products over the latest cleaning products
I’m not into cleaning or other domesticated chores. And even when I was discussing the possibility of having a baby by myself with my mom, I said I thought the first two years are all about feeding, changing diapers, cleaning them up, etc, I could just outsource that to a nanny. I thought, my value as a parent wouldn’t really come into play until it was time to read to them and teach them stuff.
Janice gently said (and mom Janice isn’t typically gentle), that the first two years couldn’t be outsourced. They are about bonding.
It made me think, would I still be happy on the 12th night in a row, at home alone mopping up spit-up and doing laundry (who am I kidding, laundry CAN’T be a bonding experience. I’m outsourcing that). Would I be happy with that choice?
Or, how about when I’m 80 and living in a retirement village and other people’s children and grandchildren come to visit them and I’m that weird old lady that keeps asking strangers if they want to look at my photos or hear my stories.
Or maybe I could be the one to find the balance of both? But how could that be possible, when I’m witnessing that out of a city of 25 million, the females are relegated to home after dark?
I’m not nurturing
Back when I was in the workplace, as a leader, one of the complaints about me was the way I gave feedback.
The very first time I was a supervisor in my 20s, I was once overheard saying, “Out of the 10 things I asked you to do, 8 of them were wrong.”
Sure, I got much better. But it has taken a lot of work. It’s not a natural instinct. I’m more about facts and efficiency than feelings.
In fact, I wanted to give the dog back after the first month of Cupcake’s puppyhood was much harder than I expected. But Janice said you couldn’t give puppies back (and I let myself believe her!).
I’m selfish and believe in taking care of myself
I feel that culturally, including in the US, the expectations for women to give up themselves to care for others are too high.
Have you heard of mom jeans? Yep, a mom can’t be sexy (unless she’s objectified as a MILF). And women buy into this and run around in mini-vans with no makeup, a messy ponytail and unlabeled yoga pants as a uniform.
Recently, when Kim Kardashian posted “empowering” naked photos of herself, so many people said, “but she’s a mom!” What does being a mom have to do with it? Moms are held to a higher standard than other women.
And how about those moms who put their child’s photo as their own on social media? No, thanks. It’s MY profile, you will be seeing MY latest pics. Can I have a child even if I don’t want to BECOME my child?
Or how about when it’s his birthday. Do I have to dig up every photo from the last 20 years and let that take over my feed? Or, instead, would it be ok for me to share my latest fancy martini or interesting article on activism, like I’m allowed to do now?
The research continues
I’ve been keeping my eyes open, looking into every restaurant I passed after dark. It seems that the trendy restaurants – dark lighting, cocktails, live music, ladies in heels – are the domain of men and couples.
I found the ladies at family style restaurants. They were there with family, often their husband and an older adult as well. And their kids were with them, having a great time with chocolate milk and jello. And the food was usually…a buffet.
I hate, really hate buffets.