I am thirty six.
I’ve never wanted children.
In high school, twenty years ago, my assigned health class husband health class divorced me because he wanted egg babies and I didn’t. Of course, I still had to raise egg babies as a single health class mother. So I’m not quite sure of the point there. And I’m also pretty sure he really just wanted to have egg babies with his actual girlfriend who was also in the class.
Story of my life.
Anyways. I’ve never wanted children. And I’ve adamantly opposed, through the years, all of the women who chastise me with the argument that I will change my mind some day, that my biological clock will kick in, that I am denying the world my only purpose as a woman. Because I have never wanted children.
And yet, every time I see an article about how much harder it is for a woman to have children after thirty five, I cry…
I turned thirty six last month.
I am thirty-six years old.
Thirty six is verging on “late thirties.”
Thirty six is closer to forty than to thirty.
Thirty six, apparently, is a scary age to turn.
I didn’t handle my birthday all too well this year. In the weeks before I randomly cried, I randomly panicked, I randomly shut down.
Part of that, I’m sure, was just knowing that the world would drastically change the next day. Was knowing that I had no clue what was in store for me, my friends, my country. Was knowing that I didn’t know anything about what would happen next.
But part of it, a much bigger part of it, much of my panic, many of the tears, was internal.
I was under a lot of stress at work and had an overwhelming feeling that there was too much to do in too little time. A reality of my job and, I suppose, aging.
“Am I running out of time?” was a question I struggled with daily.
Part of me knows that that is a ridiculous question.
But then another part says, “is it really?”
When I was younger, looking at my life ahead, I imagined things would turn out a little differently. I imagined myself married. I imagined myself with a house of my own. I imagined myself staying 99 pounds. I imagined myself with a high-paying job. I imagined myself with this luxury life in which I could actually afford luxury things like breakfast and a cab ride home at 3am.
All of those things, I probably imagined, having by twenty five. And definitely, most certainly, by thirty five.
But, instead, here I am, now, thirty six, single, with a closet full of clothes I don’t fit into, and taking buses home in the middle of the night.
My life isn’t really what I thought it would be.
That’s not to say I don’t have a great life. An amazing life, at times. I have a job. I can pay my bills. I have wonderful friends who will go out with me last minute to a cider bar when I have no plans on my actual birthday, who will call me up and talk for an hour to wish me a happy birthday and luck for the impending end of the world, who will leave cat gifs on my Facebook on command, who will come over to my place and drink all the wine with me. I dance. I’m learning to play music. I’m making strides towards balance, towards a happy, full, life. I’ve traveled to 35 countries. I’ve done amazing things.
But still, right now, I, sometimes, feel behind.
And sometimes it feels, the older you get, like choices, possibilities, are slipping away.
For instance, children.
I don’t want children. I have never wanted children. But, I suppose the possibility that I could change my mind someday was always there.
And now, it’s not.*
And losing possibilities, choices, is where things get scary.
What if I’ve waited thirty six, thirty seven, forty years to find someone to love and he wants kids. What do I do then? What choice would I have to make?
And, on that note, has it gotten to the point that I am waiting for someone so unattainable, someone who doesn’t exist, because I’ve waited so long? Will I settle for the next guy I meet because he is there and tolerable?
And what if I’ve waited thirty six, thirty seven, forty years to find someone to love and I have to compromise my life for him?
What if finding love means I don’t get to move where I want to move or travel where I want to travel or eat what I want to eat or decorate how I want to decorate? Will I have to give up my dreams? Or modify them? Would I want to? Would I be willing to?
And am I doing what I want to be doing in life? Is it too late to make a change? Is it even possible to make a change? Do I keep on this path because it’s what I know? Because I am already so deep into it?
Sometimes I think I’m just having a mid-life crisis and then I have a second crisis over the fact that I am indeed old enough to have a mid-life crisis.
But, hey, I mean I can now sleep with someone half my age totally legally.**
And that is something.
*I’m not saying women can’t have kids after thirty five. I am saying it would probably take a man twenty years of begging for me to change my mind. And fifty six might be pushing it.
**My friend totally pointed out that 17 is the legal age in Illinois. So, damn.