I have just finished reading an intriguing article entitled ‘Bin your biological clock’. It is essentially a piece written to reassure women in their 30’s and upwards that they should not worry about leaving procreation of their mini-me’s until later in life. I read with amusement the sentences ‘babies take planning but they don’t have to take over your life’. Really? Spoken either like a sprogless singleton or a self-absorbed career chaser! By the end of the article I am decided upon the former.
My knowledge on the subject of planning infant creation is this…I planned to get pregnant 6 years ago, I planned to be blossoming rather than blobby during said pregnancy, I planned to have a short, relatively painless labour followed by the ultimate plan of having a child which ate, slept and pooped according to my schedule. Ha, every one of those plans went belly up (excusing the obvious pun) so my new plan was to therefore never get pregnant again and that plan fell through as well.
Babies take planning my butt! The only plan you can reliably make for yourself is to go with the flow. As for babies not taking over your life, is she serious? I have not had more than 5 full nights sleep in the last 6 years. My brain, I suspect, has been badly damaged by hormonal overload, sleep deprivation and extreme anxiety ranging from is she swaddled too tight? To how the flaming heck am I going to get this skid mark off the sleeve of my only non-puke stained top? In the years that followed, these questions were replaced with how on earth did she manage to scalp herself with plastic craft scissors? And do I admit it was my son that trashed the art display in the library?
Now I find that even if my children were to eventually let me finish a sentence without interruption, I would forget what I was talking about halfway through anyway. I am yet to reach thirty but I am already in that zone where I enter a room, forget what I am there for and then talk myself through the retracing of my steps in order to remember why. Children’s chatter and clatter mashes you brain, what hope have you got when age is eating its abilities too? This is the part that tipped the scales for me in the debate of early v late motherhood.
My 25 year old cousin has just found out she is pregnant and is ecstatic whilst my mother-in-law has just given birth to her second child and is also ecstatic. These women are at either end of the scale. My cousin has been told by her ‘friends’ that she is too young, she is going to miss out on having a life and should have waited until she is in a more secure financial position. My in-laws are considered by some to be too old to be starting again. I think that both of them are in for a wonderful but exhausting experience and this would be the case no matter what age they are!
I was 23 when I had my first child. I have always wanted to be a younger mother as I believed it meant that I would be able to keep up with my kids when they did a runner in the supermarket, have the energy to play on the swings with them and remember much of my schooling in order to be able to help them with homework. There is also the added bonus of still being young enough to enjoy my freedom when my kids are old enough to enjoy theirs. I stand by that decision, especially as I find their exuberance so exhausting now, how would I have coped with that in my forties?
I can see the benefits of later motherhood and understand the rationalisation of secure career and home environments at that stage of life. Along with the likelihood that life has been well explored by the time children come along so there are no worries of ‘missing out’. There are the added worries of difficulty conceiving due to diminishing viable eggs, but these days many fertility treatments such as IVF have given a more positive outlook on this dilemma. Success rates are ever increasing. Egg harvesting is becoming more popular for women who choose to have careers before motherhood and while I think it is an incredible advancement in science, I can’t help but wonder at the whole moralistic side of Man playing God and what future implications there are in store.
On a more shallow level however, I just think the age factor means a women would be even more knackered after a day of serving air in tea cups and chasing the helium balloon which has escaped from your kids clutches after less then 3 minutes.
I doubt the question of when is a good time to begin a family can ever be answered in clear, set terms as there are too many variables to argue upon. I do not believe there is ever a right time. You can never truly know if you are ready and you can never be fully prepared. If you can happily and in all honesty say that you are getting pregnant for the right reasons (not in order to get housing, fix or force marriage or for sheer novelty value) and are prepared to put someone elses needs and wants before your own for the rest of time, then it is a good time, your time and the opinions of others, parents or not, are dismissable!