2016 was a pretty shitty year. It took from us, so many that we’d admired. In return, it gave us Brexit, a Trump presidency and just to pile on the misery, I turned 40.
It’s fair to say my life isn’t exactly how I’d expected it to turn out. I don’t ever recall trying to imagine my life at 40 but I imagined myself at 30. A married, pregnant homeowner taking a break from my marketing career to raise a family. I did say once in an interview, I wanted to be a director at 40.
Well, that’s one box I’ve ticked. The career box. Woo hoo! (laden with oodles of sarcasm)
Otherwise, I’m single, never married but engaged once, I own an apartment in a city halfway around the world, I’ve never been pregnant (despite numerous scares) and it’s kinda looking like that’s the way things will remain.
Or at least, that’s how people are beginning to perceive me. I’ve lost count of the times my Mum has explained away by singleton status as being a ‘career woman’. She often laments over how she’ll only ever have two grandchildren. My boss recently made a throwaway comment about how I’d made the right decision not to have kids.
It’s not so much that they make me feel like I’ve failed as a woman – which they do – it’s more that they’ve given up on me before I’ve given up on me.
It’s one thing for me to stress in the seclusion of my own thoughts that I’ve not succeeded or lived up to expectation, that I’ve left it “too late” or wasted my best years. It’s quite another to hear those thoughts confirmed out loud.
I didn’t decide to not have kids, it just hasn’t worked out. I didn’t choose to not get married. My fiancé decided he didn’t want to get married and so we broke up. Since then the men I’ve had relationships with haven’t shown marriage or parenting credentials – but it’s not stopped me hoping. I still hope it’s not too late. I’m not particularly bothered about marriage but I get incredibly upset when I think I might never have kids.
Or do I? Am I being deluded? Do I need to start facing facts that I’ve unconsciously decided to be single and childless? Have I left it too late?
I don’t want to do it alone and it’s not like I can suddenly conjure up a suitable father with a wave of my magic wand. I also don’t want to enter into my next relationship with the immediate pressure of “must get pregnant” hanging over our heads. So maybe that does leave me childless.
I think it’s one thing personally deciding not to have children, it’s another having the decision taken out of your hands. All the women out there who aren’t able to conceive, I’m starting to understand how you feel. The window of opportunity is closing but what exactly can I do about it?
Nothing. Instead, I’ll just wince and seethe as I try to dodge the judgemental comments of those around me. It’s not like I’ve purposefully pursued this as my end goal people!