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Birthday candle and cider shot The Northman in Chicago.

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.

Sigh.

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.

Sigh.

Aging.

 

 

But, hey, I mean I can now sleep with someone half my age totally legally.**

And that is something.

 

Thirty Six: The age where you can sleep with someone half your age and not go to jail.

 

*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.

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8 Comments
  • Sid
    February 17, 2017 at 11:47 am

    My mom was 42 when I was born, 46 for my Sister. And meh, if you run out of time biologically and change your mind, there’s always adoption.

  • Caroline
    February 17, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    You are so not alone in feeling like that. Turned the same age this year too…I think our birthdays are close if I remember. 🙂 I am married and often wonder if I’m letting my choices fall through my finger tips as I age in regards to kids. I don’t have any sage advice other than, I’ve asked myself the very same things. You’re not alone. 🙂
    Caroline recently posted…Howdy, Million Mile Secrets Readers! Come on in.

  • Heather H.
    February 17, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    I love your blog Val. This post in particular really hit home. I just turned 34 and my feelings are so similar. That feeling of not necessarily running out of time but the lessening of options. It’s a scary feeling that comes and goes like you said. I’m certainly not where I thought I would be at this age and I’ve never really wanted children either, but I have those moments when I wonder what if I magically wake up one day with my mind changed? Or meet the guy that somehow changes my opinion on the matter. I also agree, that though we might not be where we thought we’d be, we still have pretty great lives and should be thankful for that 🙂 Let’s get drinks sometime!

  • Heather
    February 17, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    #1 The age they start calling you a geriatric pregnant lady is when you turn 35. I found that out this time. I wasn’t even 35 when I got pregnant, but I still had to get a bunch of extra testing. To his credit, my doctor was laughing as he told me this.

    #2 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you don’t want children, don’t have them. There isn’t anything wrong with that. Sure, maybe you’ll change your mind. For instance, I only recently decided that I like blackberries. But never ever think that you are wrong because you don’t. Kids are a ton of work. So is being knocked up. It’s not like you have to have a child to win a “No really, I’m a good human award!” People don’t become better humans because they have kids.

    #3. I like you. I think you’ll be pretty bitchin when you are 80. Age is but an arbitrary number determined by how fast the Earth travels. So that should count for something.

  • Turner
    February 17, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I suppose this is more of a concern for women, but the possibilities slipping away is a familiar feeling. For me, it comes down to one day not physically being able to have some career or do some task.

  • Ali
    February 20, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I have never wanted kids either. I can’t imagine myself pregnant or as a mother. I don’t want to compromise my life and my goals the way you have to in order to bring another life into the world and care for it. I like my sleep, I like to travel (and yes I know you can travel with kids, but meh), and basically I have no desire whatsoever to be a mom. But I think I get what you mean about knowing you’ve hit an age where that choice to not have kids is becoming more of a biological choice your body is making rather than a personal choice you’ve made for yourself, and it’s weird to have that choice taken away from you. I think it’s also weird to see people all around you (“you” as in you, me, whoever) having kids and, in some ways, moving forward with their lives when yours when your life is staying the same. I get frustrated at how hard it is to make new friends when so many people have kids or are planning on having kids, and I feel like I don’t have anything in common with them, or like everything will change and I’ll lose them as a friend once they have kids. Andy and I are noticing that we’re in this weird place where there are so few people we can relate to: people who are in their 30s or 40s, who don’t have or want kids, who like to travel, etc. But we know kids are NOT for us, and that’s ok. You are doing amazing things, and you don’t need to compromise. I totally get what you’re saying about what if you meet a great guy but have to compromise on so many things to be with him…but I think the right guy won’t ask you to compromise on too many things. If you don’t want kids, you don’t compromise on that. At all. Other things, like a city you want to live in or travel or goals, you discuss. Some are non-negotiable, others are not. I think we get more picky the older we get, and therefore less willing to bend for someone else. And that’s ok too. It just means you end up having a different kind of relationship than you would have at say age 23. Andy doesn’t need the travel as much as I do, so occasionally I take a trip by myself. He is super into board games, so he goes and does that stuff without me. You just figure it out. Because as cheesy as it sounds, the right guy won’t ask you to change who you are to be with him.
    Ali recently posted…5 Reasons Why Being a Digital Nomad is Not For Me

  • I Want to Travel The World
    May 3, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Oh, I wish I was 36 again! (I’m 44)… 36 is young! You are a well traveled woman, and children are not for everyone. You should live the live that you are destined to live, and not what others think is the best for you. 35 countries? Wow, I hope I can visit that many one day. I’m working on it, but have a long way to go!

  • Caroline
    May 21, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Thank you for posting this, Val. So much of what you say sounds very familiar, and that in itself is heartening! I turned 37 and feel my life is at a crossroads. Biological clock aside (I do want kids), I know 37 is just a number, but it’s hard to not feel anxiety about it when one is constantly bombarded with media messages about getting old, narrowing choices, etc. I lost my SO last year and have thrown myself into blogging and writing partly as a coping mechanism. It’s great, but I worry the things I want to do most right now––traveling and writing––aren’t conducive to the companionship and family I want, and that I’m too old to pursue both. It’s hard not to wish to still be in my 20s, except that I know the experiences of the past decade a better, more well-rounded person (“layered, like an onion”, as my mom put it).

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