December 14, 2012 § 1 Comment
When a childless woman reaches a certain age, her family and friends (particularly those that have begun to bear their own brood) begin a repetitive stream of, if you’re lucky only occasional, questioning. The topic of questioning, I hear you ask? Is the, so far, childless woman planning to remedy her current lack of offspring any time soon? Said childless woman will hear reminders that she’d better not delay too long, that her clock is ticking, and that nothing compares to the joy and wonder of having a child.
I am a woman that has reached a certain age, officially and contentedly sitting just on the other side of thirty, and the mutterings in my own ear are gradually growing louder. There was a time when “is there a man in your life?” was of everyone’s concern. Now there is a man, and the line of questioning has morphed into something I seem to have little comeback for. Let me explain. Although some say my time is dwindling (and I am not a fool – I know, biologically, I have an end to my optional years), however I also know that have many a good child-bearing year ahead of me. Should I choose to go down that route, of course. I recognise that the older I get the more tests I will have to be put through during pregnancy, and that with certain things my age increases risks, but nowadays one hears of just as many complications with younger women caused by other factors that previously did not offer problems. Additionally, there are first world countries where the average age for first-time pregnancy is in the early thirties.
I am not a white-picket-fence kind of a girl, never have been. My romantic ideals have always been a bit off-side in terms of what is traditional. I did not set out to get married, would find it impossible to truly “settle down”, and have never felt decisive about having kids. I am someone who enjoys living her life as she wants to, and making the most of the crazy adventure that our time on this planet is. (I am fortunate that I have merged paths with someone who shares my views and lifestyle choices.) So, never especially opposed to the idea, I have always expected that if any wee sprogs did come along, they would arrive by the oopsy-daisy method of conception. The reality is that I have so many personal interests and pursuits that it is unlikely I will ever reach that day in my life when I say “right, now’s the time to start a family.”
Just to be clear, in no way am I saying I don’t want little people. I’m very much on the fence with this one as I can appreciate the pros and cons to both options. On the one hand, I am told that to have a child is an experience like no other, one that can’t be missed out on. I agree. I believe children are the greatest privilege one can have. I also recognise that they are the greatest responsibility, one I believe should be taken so seriously it hurts, and therein lies the rub. Having recently had the privilege of hanging out with my 6 week old nephew, I can absolutely see the draw towards being the sole nurturer of a shoe sized human being, better yet, the fruit of your own loins. I have also seen the many ways that parenting changes people for the better.
I also see the flip-side of that coin. Having never had the experience of my own child, I do not feel I am missing out – I’ve never ad it, therefore can’t miss it. I do, however, look at the parents of young ones and at the bags under their eyes from lack of sleep, and I notice their inability to talk about anything other than the tiny creatures taking over their lives, and I see the endless stream of chores, lack of funds, and complete absence of “me” time. I watch these mature, full-grown adults tear their hair out as they try to get through the (seemingly endless) boundary-pushing phase, and observe the self-neglect increase.
Then I go home to my quiet, ordered household, one in which I can sleep when and how much I want, where I can fill my hours with things I want to do, where I have every right to behave completely and indulgently selfishly, and I am pleased with the status quo. As I make whimsical plans to pack up and go traveling with my partner, work odd hours doing jobs that don’t pay much but pay enough for my simple lifestyle and make me happy, and work towards a degree because “it’s never too late”, I am content.
But then, every now and again, somewhere from the deep dark of my insides, I feel a yearning, a pull so primal it overwhelms me. In those intimate, quiet moments with the love of my life – the person I truly hope is my forever man – I feel a curiosity grip my subconscious asking “I wonder what our babies would like? I wonder what we’d be like as parents?” I cannot deny that the more I step forward into that certain age bracket, the more I find myself questioning whether children might just be the very thing that will finally give me the supreme purpose I have spent the greater part of my life searching for. I guess, as the old adage goes, only time will tell – but not too much time, after all, tick-tock.