One of my best friends turned 30 today – the first in my uni friendship group to do so. I’m in the slightly strange position of being young for my school year, but old for my uni year because I took a gap year, which means that roughly half of my friends will be turning 30 before I do, while the others still have a year to go.
Let’s get one thing clear: I’m far from having a breakdown at the idea of turning 30. Casual sex aside, I’m really not a massive fan of a lot of things you’re supposed to spend your late teens and twenties doing – clubbing, getting blind drunk, travelling the world – so I’m quite happy to, shhh, whisper it, ‘settle down.’
Quite happy, that is, apart from one thing – I want to be a mum, and I’m worried that the things that need to fall into place for that to happen won’t fall into place until it’s too late. And when I say ‘want to be a mum,’ I don’t say it lightly – I’m the girl at dinner parties cuddling the babies of mere acquaintances, the one who inevitably doesn’t get to eat dessert because my hands are taken up cradling someone else’s kid who’s fallen asleep on my shoulder. I’ve wanted it for as long as I can remember and I don’t see that feeling going away any time soon.
Society’s views on women like me aren’t often very helpful either – I know I shouldn’t let the Mail rile me, but god I was fucked off when Liz Jones wrote this piece. You might steal men’s sperm as payment for microwaving the odd ready-meal, love, but don’t you dare imply that it’s something the rest of us would do. I think a woman in her early 30s should be able to be open with a man about wanting to have a child without the man automatically assuming that that means that she wants to have one with him, and feeling accordingly threatened because that’s not something he’s interested in.
That, plus the fact that I can’t quite get my head around how I will meet, fall in love with and build a sufficiently strong relationship with a guy before the mental cut-off point that I’ve established by which I need to make this a reality (35, if you must know), means that my usual, defensive position is: ‘I don’t need a man in my life to have a baby, I’ll have one by myself.’ That line though, I’m increasingly realising, is just self-preservation – it’s my way of persuading myself, and other people, that I’m in control and have a game plan, even though the reality is, yeah, not so much.
More and more I’m realising that, while I would still have a baby on my own, I’d rather have one with a guy who I love and who I’m in a relationship with. The question is: if I know that that’s something I want from my life, should I give up the relationships happening in my life now that clearly aren’t leading to that in order to dedicate myself more fully to what I want in the long term, or should I stick with what’s working in the short term and assume that the bigger picture will sort itself given time?
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