BY MIA FREEDMAN My daughter wants to know when you can have children. She’s six. I overheard her asking her father about it the other night. “What’s the best age to have a baby? 15? Is that a good age?” Unfortunately, she chose the wrong parent to discuss this with. Dads are unprepared for such questions because they rarely dwell in the hypothetical future. It fries my husband’s brain to imagine his little girl being in high school, let alone pregnant.
Me, I’d have dived happily into a detailed chat about the various pros and cons of having kids at different ages, whether she wants kids at all, how many she’d like to have, and what she might call them. We may have also discussed who’d be with her in the delivery room because, you know, that’s something to consider.
I’d be so into that conversation.
Meanwhile, my three year old son doesn’t want to know anything. He just wants to hit things with sticks.
This perfectly illustrates my theory that women live in the future and men live in the present. We’re always looking over the horizon, gathering information about what options will be available when we arrive. Whereas men are grounded more firmly in the here and now. ‘Is anyone in immediate danger? No? OK, we’re good then.’
Really, this explains so much.
Like why women are so obsessed with anniversaries (the past). And why we believe our lives will be better when we tone our upper arms, meet that guy, get that job, grow our hair, learn to zumba or are finally satisfied that Jennifer Aniston has found the right guy and we can finally stop worrying about her (the future).
My three year old’s ability to exist so completely in the moment used to frustrate me (“I know you’re killing lions but you need to put on PANTS so we can go to PRESCHOOL.”) but these days I envy him because I find being present a constant struggle. As a writer, I’m always somewhere else in my head. This drives people nuts when they try to talk to me and I don’t hear them because I’m mentally planning this column or angsting about some entirely imagined situation.
Perhaps you are too. A Harvard University study in 2010 found that people spend nearly half their time thinking about something other than what they’re doing.
The exception? During sex, when 90% of people said they were focussed on the task at hand. Dare I suggest many of the women were fibbing? Every woman I know admits to having a wandering mind sometimes in bed. “I try to be in the moment but invariably I start thinking about whether Tony Abbott really will be Prime Minister after the next election and whether I’ve taken the chicken out to defrost,” says one.