No Babies for Me... / by Shanelle Gabriel least no time soon. I was browsing the net, and stumbled on the old story of 17 teen girls in a high school who made a pact to get pregnant...I heard the story on the news and tried to recall anything of this nature going on at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn, NY, where I graduated from. Um, nope, no recollection of anyone actually WANTING to get pregnant. It happened, but it wasn't on purpose. The idea of getting "knocked up" led to the fear of getting knocked out by our mothers, so a missed period wasn't a desirable outcome.

With all the advances in contraceptives, morning after pills, and condoms in schools, the teen pregnancy rate is crazy high. I recently had to explain to a 17 year-old girl reasons why she and her boyfriend should wait to have a baby, even though to me the simple fact that she's 17 was enough to me. Reasons such as "I think I'm ready," "I want that unconditional love that a baby can give," "I'm great with kids," and "I don't want to be an old mother," are not valid enough to lead to procreation.

What is misunderstood in this day and age is that parenting is difficult regardless of how easy your mom and dad and TV make it look. Babies are not dolls that you can show off, play with, then put them on a shelf when you're tired. They are sooo cute when you see them in someone's stroller- that cuteness ends when they've got you up at 3am just because they want to be rocked or when they're throwing tantrums during the "Terrible Twos". Or when you see that a can of baby formula is $15 and lasts three days, that a bag of diapers is $20 and lasts less than a week, and that just as quick as you bought that cute $20 outfit for the baby, he or she will outgrow it twice as fast. Or when you're stuck home because you can't find a babysitter while all your friends are headed to the nearest club/concert/hangout spot/diner. When you can't go on that study abroad trip to Japan during your college years because children aren't included in the price.

Children don't just come with love, they also come with responsibility. The interesting thing is that the "unconditional love" that these teens think kids bring is really one-sided for the most part of the child's life. YOU have to love him or her unconditionally, not necessarily visa versa. That baby is more concerned with having its needs met than how affectionate and loving it needs to be to its parents. (Wait till that bundle of joy is a teenager- that's when they may be convinced they hate you.)

I love children. My maternal instincts are impeccable, and I have been taking care of kids since I was one. I deeply congratulate all of my friends who are recent or soon-to-be parents: Kimberly E., Dave Judah, Chrissy, Dawn, and my friends who've been doing their mommy and daddy thang for a while (Monique, Serge, Kofi, Dorian, Shem, Kevon, Milton, and the LOOOOONG list of others). I sometimes envy the precious gift that you hold in your arms. I watch them grow and I am amazed. I can only imagine the pride you feel in knowing that you had some part in the creation of such a beautiful gift of life. HOWEVER, I have no problem living vicariously through you all till I have my own, till I am READY financially and mentally with a partner (meaning husband) and a place for us to all live. To quote my friend Marlon, "I'm not bringing a child into the world to struggle".

Lord knows, I'm not ready to decide between shoes and diapers, between a West Coast tour and a big purple dinosaur. The quicker we rush life, the sooner it ends.

I pray that I don't ever have to eat these words, but they are definitely my ideal. Salutations to all the parents out there. I tip my virgin strawberry-daquiri glass up to you. Much props and love. I'll join you...someday. Till then, cheers.