You know you’re old when you dread adding another year to your age. When I was younger, growing up felt much more exciting. I can always recall celebrating the moments when I was finally tall enough to ride a roller-coaster, and old enough to drive a car and go to a bar legally. I’ve always enjoyed birthdays and I still do. However, in the past few years I’ve been broached with a topic that has made aging as a woman less exciting. The unavoidable truth: women’s fertility declines with age. Often referred as our ‘biological clock’.
Thankfully, my parents are extremely supportive and have raised me to live and accomplish life without gender specific goals. Despite this, it has become very apparent that there is still societal pressure that women should be expected to have children at a certain age. Our biological clock really does not help with this perception. I am very happy to say that this year I no longer feel pressured by my ‘biological clock’ to fulfill any goals or expectations in my life. Here are the following three reasons why:
Happy adults raise happy children. It was important to me to be happy in my relationship and be married prior to having children. I cannot predict when I will meet the right person and get married. I am responsible for my behaviour and feelings in a relationship, but I have no control over how someone feels about me and how they act or think. I prioritize being in a fulfilling and happy relationship and good ones require work.
- Success of pregnancy
I hope you are not surprised by this, but pregnancy is not 100% within our control. Now let me explain. You can prevent pregnancy, you can plan for pregnancy, but you cannot determine the success of a pregnancy. Babies are truly little miracles. I know so many couples who have experienced miscarriages and/or fertility issues. I truly empathize when they are bombarded with questions about having children. I would encourage everyone to be more mindful and sensitive when approaching this topic. If for some reason you have to ask, I have always found it helpful to say “do you plan to have children?” instead of being presumptuous with questions like: “when are you going to have kids?, why are you not pregnant yet?, don’t you want kids?”
Finally, is it so wrong if I have decided that I may just not be ready to have children? Or would it be wrong if I do not plan on ever having children? It is easy to assume that base on my career, my experience and my personality that I may want to be a mother, and perhaps one day I might. However, I also have other interests and goals that are currently more meaningful and important to me.
The expectation that all woman will or want to become mothers need to be evaluated. It is by far the hardest job in world. Although it may also be the most rewarding, it doesn’t mean it will and should happen for everyone. I use to struggle with the idea that my clients may question my expertise as a child psychologist without having any children of my own. Interestingly, in my 9 years of work with families, NO ONE (not my supervisor, not my colleagues, not my clients) have ever doubted my ability to work with parents and children. The expectation of marriage and motherhood have also caused me to be unhappy and resentful in my previous relationship. I was terrified with the idea of spending forever with a person who made me feel so miserable. I did not leave because I was so determined to fulfill the expectations of having a marriage and family one day. I was committed to make things work in my relationship because I undermined my own needs and focused only on the needs of others.
It is OK to fail and feel like we are not perfect. It is OK to not meet the expectations and standards of others. Expectations and standards are man-made anyway, and anything man-made can always be changed.