I’m in my early 20s and yet I’m starting to worry about having children. Is time running out for me making a decision or better put I don’t know how to make it?
I suppose until you have your own children you’re oblivious to the time-consuming, sanity-draining and irreversible nature of parenthood. It’s one of the few topics on which I’m swayed toward the “grand design” argument, because it is an act of genius to keep us all in the dark about such realities until it’s too late. Were the truth out prematurely, the planet would move swiftly toward under-population. Biologically you have to believe that your “little angels” are the most important creatures on earth, otherwise the temptation to wash your hands of them could be overwhelming. That’s only partly a joke.
There are plenty of valid reasons to dodge motherhood, not least because it’s no longer a chance to escape the work place, and the labour falls clearly into your lap (and I don’t just mean during birth). Luckily, it’s not a choice where rationality has a starring role. The irrational urge to make one of your own will, no doubt, ambush me at some point, however fleetingly. Timing is all, and it’s unfortunate that the desire to have kids seems to increase in proportion to the waning of biological opportunity. Then again, nobody likes being told no.
For many women, your age just getting into their career stride and feeling they have a handle on life, sacrificing this cherished state of independence in order to propagate the species holds little allure. Adding to that antipathy is witnessing the scrambled brains, mawkish sentimentality and myopic absorption of new parents that you’ve identified. Yet when you have your own it seems entirely sensible to coo and drool, bore the world with a never ending series of anecdotes in which your cheeky little devils star, and barrage friends and family with shots of them running through cornfields or wearing reindeer horns or flailing about in rubber arm bands. So long as they are fed, clothed and loved, nobody really cares about other people’s children – but try telling that to new parents.
This perceived right to accessorise with offspring is at viral levels in celebrity world: you can’t move for cover shoots and ads starring the offspring of pop stars, sports stars and actors. On a more forgiving note, their parents are just doing publicly what others do privately: celebrating the crème de la crème of their loins for all to see.
Let’s forget the Beckhams and Le Bons, and return to me. There’s nothing like the diminishing of options to concentrate the mind. No matter what I feel at this moment, becoming a mother or mourning the moment you passed on that possibility will at some point preoccupy me. It doesn’t mean I’d be wrong to decline.
Having children does provide a handy way to busy ourselves for at least a quarter of our increasingly long lives. I suggest you peruse the other appealing options, and once you’ve come to a sensible, rational, informed decision, sit back, kick up your heels and see what biology has to say. You’d be surprised what instinctive animals we remain despite outward appearances.