Does the biological clock tick over forty? For me it does not. I think my biological clock broke many years ago. I only remember a very brief period in my life where I wanted children. I grew up thinking I would get married and have children, just like my mother did. I had the baby dolls that I played with and the imaginary husband that went with it.
Times change, people change.
I am childless by choice. I have been asked over the years many times, "Why don't you have children?" The answers varied by age. At first it was simple, I wasn't married. But I as I grew older, I realized, married or not, I could have a baby. I didn't want one. I remember one encounter with a mother who told me she was so happy her children were grown and out of the house so she could have her own life. She then proceeded to ask me if I had settled on not having children, at my age. I told her it was a conscience choice. There was pity in her face, like she felt sorry for me. It was as if she was speaking for all of society and was shunning me for not wanting to live up to my "womanly duty". This from a woman who was glad her own children were gone. Hmm...It is interesting to me that some women sit in judgement of others without ever have taken stock of themselves. For the record I have not settled on not having children. I know plenty of single mothers out there. I could have bypassed the whole marriage thing and gone straight to having a child. Again, I didn't want a child.
I know what I give up by not having children. For me there are no first birthday parties and subsequent parties every year. There are no first words or first steps. Suffice to say I will not have these "firsts".
Holidays are different. I don't hide the Easter eggs, I don't set out the gifts from Santa. I don't pretend the Tooth Fairy has come. This is not my life. I will never have a daughter walk down the aisle to her future husband. I will never be a grandmother. To many this sounds lonely and depressing, but it is not for me. I don't feel like I have given up anything. I don't have the three am feedings, the cuts to wipe clean, and the runny noses and dirty diapers that come with motherhood. I know plenty of women for whom all of this is a great joy. I applaud them, I really do. This path was and is not for me. What I don't want is the solace that I see in someone's face when I tell them that I don't want kids. I am not any less of a woman, no less compassionate and not any less loving. My life is full.
This is what I do have: time. I have time to do everything I want, when I want. I am not selfish.I enjoy my freedom. I come and go as I please. I stay up late if I want and I sleep in when I feel like it. I miss dinner some nights. I am fulfilled in my own ways, with what is right for me. Some will read this and think that I am just being self absorbed. I know several women who had children and are unfulfilled in their lives. It is a decision that we all make, with very different outcomes.
As a woman, I do not define myself by this one area of life. I am fulfilled. I have many friends with children, and while it can pose a problem on occasion, it doesn't change the dynamic of the friendship. My closest friend is a mother of three, this is one of her most gratifying parts of her life. I envy her the fact that she lives her life for her children, always putting them first. I made a different choice in life, we don't find fault with each others life. We support each other from our individual point of view.
So while my "clock" stopped ticking long ago, I am always happy when a friend decides to embark on the toughest journey of all; motherhood. I stand with them in their choice, just like they stand with me in mine. After all, it really is about the support we give one another as women. And it is about the lessons we learned, usually from our mothers.