I wonder what it’d be like to be pregnant senior year. Not in the sense of — hm, would it be difficult to take a midterm with a fetus kicking in my stomach — but more in terms of life around campus. I’d hear strangers say in horror-struck tones, “The Pregnant Girl is in my section,” or “Did you see that The Pregnant Girl was at Box?” I would no longer be seen as a soccer player, a FOOT leader, a Branfordian, a writer. Instead, I would assume the all-consuming identity of The Pregnant Girl at Yale.
Don’t worry — I’m not pregnant. Nor do I plan to be until I probably discover I’m infertile. I can barely look after my own toenails, not to mention a baby. But what if that weren’t the case? What if a baby was what I wanted — right here, right now? Would it be a sign of senility, a fiery red flag of failure, or The Worst Decision I Could Possibly Make in a life ostensibly geared towards future success?
I used to think it was all three. But it’s funny, because you know who actually had a big baby belly when she was my age? Senior United States Senator Elizabeth Bossanova Warren.
Senator Elizabeth Warren is known for teaching at Harvard Law School. What she’s less known for is dropping out of college after two years to marry her high school boyfriend at age 19. She started George Washington University on a debate scholarship at age 16, but after moving with the young hubby to Texas, she enrolled in the University of Houston and earned a degree in speech pathology and audiology. For a year, she taught children with disabilities at a public school, but she got pregnant and decided to be a stay-at-home mom, just around the age I am now: in the last months of my first year of legal drinking.
Young, Tao Tao-aged Liz — future first female Senator of Massachusetts Liz — dedicated two whole years to being a full-time mom to her first daughter. Then, she enrolled at the Rutgers School of Law-Newark. She received her JD while pregnant with baby number two.
In order to look after both jurisprudence and her tots, Warren started by practicing law out of her living room. This is what I will envision from now on when I hear the term working mom: 29-year-old Warren closing real estate deals and diaper straps at the kitchen table while simultaneously constructing both a property will and a cardboard fort.
After a while of diapers and forts, deals and wills, Warren took up teaching positions at a number of universities before landing her gig at Harvard, where she focused on contracts, commercial law and bankruptcy. She divorced her high school boyfriend, got remarried, became a grandmother to some adorable half-Indian grandchildren, wrote a few books and then ran against a former underwear model for the Massachusetts Senate.
In fall 2013, I find myself at late-night sushi with my seven-member suite discussing a punny theme for our next party. In fall 1971, 22-year-old Elizabeth Warren was at home taking care of a living, breathing, drooling baby. Maybe she had learned that prime baby-bearing age, evolutionary-biologically speaking, is between 20 and 24 or so. (In other words, I’m in the smack dab middle of it slash it’s almost over.) Maybe the condom broke. Or maybe, she was just doing what she knew she needed to do to be happy.
Some folks say that when you go down one path, you close certain doors. But no one says that any of the doors lock. Doors can be reopened. Senator Warren is proof of that — whether you support her as a politician or not. As we edge closer and closer to the end of our time at Yale, many of us tend to think of certain choices closing certain doors. I imagine that the choice to pop out a living, breathing, drooling baby would be seen as the most disastrously door-closing of them all. It certainly makes the decision between moving to Chicago or spending a year in Brazil seem pretty inconsequential.
So as for The Pregnant Girl? Don’t rule her out. She might just end up as your first female senator, or even president. She might have no problems reopening closed doors — and neither should we.
Tao Tao Holmes is a senior in Branford College. Her column runs on alternate Fridays. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.