Last week my mum told me that she thinks the age a woman should have children is between 25 and 35. She has said that to me before but I never really paid a whole lot of attention firstly because I categorically don’t think hers or anyone else’s opinion really matters when it comes to a couples choice to create life, but also because I guess I thought that that sentiment didn’t really apply to me yet. The first time she said it to me I was around 26. I was about to up sticks and move countries and I never pictured myself settling down early, in that respect anyway. On this occasion, though, when mum aired her unsolicited opinion once again, it occurred to me that this time I fell bang in the middle of this “ideal” range. Oh.
I wasn’t suddenly like, “Oh, fuck I am 30… shit, I didn’t realize, better get me some sperm”…It was more a slow coming to terms with the thought that maybe I am not actually going to fulfill this ideal. Maybe I’m not going to be part of that status quo. Maybe I am not one of the “lucky” average. Maybe that isn’t for me. Maybe my life won’t work that way. I realized for the first time that, actually, maybe I am okay with that.
When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend Will shortly after my 29th birthday I saw a lot of people wincing at me…literally because of my age. Or, alternatively, some people would say things like “Ah, better now then, before it is too late!” or “Good that you still have time to find someone else” as if what fucking time it is would have any bearing on whether or not I stick around during a bad situation. Maybe I wanted to stay to the end of the party, maybe I planned to. Maybe I booked my taxi for 3am in advance. But if someone vomits on the dancefloor and I slip in it and spill red wine all over my pale pink trouser suit then I am not going to think twice about going home. Regardless of time.
Will had a few choice thoughts for me regarding childbearing too. He told me he didn’t think I really wanted to and that maybe I wouldn’t be a mother because he just couldn’t see it. I didn’t really know what to say to that.
For the record, I do want children, but not at the expense of all of the other great things life may have in store for me. Not at the expense of finding a love that is complete enough on its own without the addition of another human, or at the expense of feeling complete in myself. Right now, complete in myself is the priority, and I don’t have a deadline for that. Good. Guidelines I am okay with. Deadlines I am not. I appreciate that in order to get shit done you have to act, but in whose interest is it to remove flexibility?! Isn’t that a bit…rash?
I remember driving to my aunty’s house for lunch at the humble age of 25. My 27-year-old sister had been married the previous year and was pregnant with her first child. I now love this little girl more than life itself. At the lunch my cousin announced she was both pregnant and engaged at the very same time. It was a big news day! I was, of course, thrilled for all my family because they were thrilled for themselves. This was what they wanted. To me a pregnancy at that point in my life would have been met with a “fuuuuckk….please no…now what?!” At 25 and living in a studio apartment in London’s stabby Zone 4, I was very aware that I absolutely wasn’t there yet. When the conversation did turn to Will and I, we talked about our music and art projects and I told my family about an internet radio show I was hosting once a week, it wasn’t much, but it was fun and I was working towards my goal of being a presenter. My brother in law smirked and told me if I was going to be a presenter then I would already be one and that 25 was a bit late for it all. The next year I moved to Canada and landed a job presenting for Most Amazing Top 10. Six months after that the channel hit a million subscribers and now, a few more years on, I’m sitting here as the face of a channel watched by two million or more people each day. I reminded him of this at Christmas. He shrugged, laughed and sipped his beer. Luckily that is exactly what I had done 5 years ago.
It sounds like I am bringing all of this up because I am jaded or something, but I promise you that isn’t it. My brother in law was wrong, but I still like the guy. His negative opinion on my career didn’t magically manifest my dreams in some form of poetic justice, just so I could smile and say “I told you so” and “up yours” years later. It also didn’t deter me. I just disregarded his opinion and got on with my life and luckily things worked out the way I roughly wanted them to because I am talented at what I do and I always stepped towards things that felt right for me. Things very well could have worked out differently, I could have followed a different path and that would have been my choice too. I can only do what feels right to me right now, not what I think might feel right for me in five years.
What I am saying is that a lot of people will have a lot of opinions about what you may or may not achieve but they literally do not mean anything. At all. The only opinion that matters is your opinion of yourself. Maybe I’m not going to do the things other people expect me to do, or if I do then maybe I won’t do it exactly as they imagined. Maybe it won’t be how I imagine either, and that is okay too.
I am 30. I don’t own a car, let alone a house. I’m not saving for one either. I do have a boyfriend, but I don’t have any prediction for where that is “going” right now. I travel at every opportunity but I don’t know where my end destination is. I have a job, a side hustle and a career goal in mind, but I haven’t got there yet. I don’t care for timelines. Maybe that is because mine isn’t exemplary but mostly it is because I think they only serve to make people feel bad about what they haven’t achieved, rather than celebrate what they have. For this reason, I would rather just remove time from the equation. I trust that whatever I really want to happen will happen eventually and if it doesn’t, it isn’t because I failed or because someone thought I couldn’t do it, maybe it is actually because I didn’t really want it in the first place. Or maybe it just isn’t meant to be. And honestly, that is fine.
I am writing a book and it isn’t finished yet. When it is, we can all have a jolly good time analyzing the shit out of it. I’ll save you a seat and a glass of bubbly. But until then… there is work to be done. And I fully intend to enjoy myself while I do it. Cheers!