“Don’t you think it’s about time, you started, y’know?”
She makes a rounded stomach gesture with her hand and smiles excitedly, giving me the knowing eyes that I’ve been the receiver of on more than one occasion. No, it’s not the universal sign for “go for an all you can eat buffet at Pizza Hut” (unfortunately), it’s the one that any woman over the age of 25 who has yet to experience the miracle of birth are subjected to on the regular. In the office, from their family, their partners family, friends of friends, doctors. It seems as though every single person you come into contact with wants to know one thing.
Why don’t you have a baby yet?
I suppose it’s just supposed. Like one of those coming of age occasions in your life that requires a card from Clintons such as passing your driving test, buying your first home, getting engaged, getting pregnant (no such luck for a card that celebrates the moment you left a toxic relationship, made your first non microwave Sunday dinner or learnt how to change a plug fuse because your straighteners wouldn’t work, yknow, actual monumental life moments).
During your mid twenties you should have accomplished at least two things: found a pair of jeans that fit perfectly and make your arse look better than it’s ever looked before and have a child OR at least have thrown your birth control in the bin, decorating a nursery and inseminating yourself with gallons of sperm on the regular on the hopes that one will work it’s magic. If by 30 you’re still hanging on to your birth control or having those awkward “morning after pill” conversations with your local chemist because you want your womb relatively fetus free for the forseeable future, you’re regarded by many as “one of those new age career women”, a description that comes loaded with judgement and expectation because you chose to take the batteries out of your biological clock and put them in your vibrator.
When you’re single the question is bad enough because bar the guy you’ve had sex with once who won you over after one two many fancy gin cocktails, you’re not really in the position to “mate for life”, even if you wanted to. When you’re in a relationship? The expectation is only magnified. It comes with the same kind of pressure of having a ring on your finger and spending the equivalent of a round the world trip on a single day to tell the person in your life that you love them. But unlike a marriage that can be undone if you so wish for the right price, having a baby is kinda like getting a tattoo on your face, you’ve kinda gotta commit to it.. for good.
“It must be time for you pair next?” you’re asked as you cradle your friends newborn, as though pregnancy leaves one being and attaches itself to the next un-childed host.
“Not just yet” you laugh, resisting the urge to ask whether it’s “time” for them to mind their own fucking business. But you know what’s coming. It’s the same sympathetic look you’ve seen before, the urgent tones reminding once again that time is a ticking, that babies are so cute and rewarding and that they change your life. And that’s what people can’t seem to grasp…
Maybe I don’t want to change my life?
When Adele opened up to say that she loved motherhood but would find herself crying to her friends to say “I fucking hate this” because she missed the time she had to herself, my Facebook timeline was awash with mums of all ages sharing the article. “This, all day everyday” one wrote. “Mic drop on motherhood” wrote another. And as I read the article and the responses to it from complete strangers and even my closest friend, I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach that left me panicking. If all these mums that on the outside I thought “had their shit together” were agreeing with Adele, then I had the right to hang on to any concerns about whether it was “about time” for me.
At this point I’m content and more importantly have worked my ass off to be at a point in my life where I can afford to travel 3-4 times a year, to not have to constantly check my bank account, have money in my savings, be able to go when and where I want without really having to answer to anyone except my couple of furballs. I like that I can make plans last minute, stay out till 6am, visit countries and learn different cultures or even the simple act of being able to lay in until 3pm with a hangover.
If/when I do miraculously grow a tiny wrinkly human, it will become the most important thing in my world (yep, even more so than my beloved lipstick collection). It’s sheer happiness, safety and well being will be my utmost responsibility and I have no doubt whatsoever that it will be rewarding, if not equal parts exhausting and terrifying. But for now, my happiness and immediate future is my priority and those plans just don’t involve a baby, no matter how many Susan’s ask the question and offer their advice. Even if it would mean 9 months without crippling period pain and an excuse to watch daytime TV in a breast milk stained tshirt and under eye bags not even Touche Eclat could cover.
I don’t want to be the person “fucking hating this” and wishing for my last minute flights, three hour baths and rom com reruns, especially not because I gave in to the expectancy of others and because I should have hit those milestones by a certain age.
Instead of holding so hard onto the reigns that control our lives and comparing our timelines to those of others, it’s important to instead allow life to happen naturally and ease the pressure we put on ourselves and others.