Here I am, a few weeks after my 30th birthday, divorced and childless. Not exactly the image I had of myself when I was in my early twenties. I was in a stable long-term relationship throughout my twenties and truly believed I would be a mother by my early 30s. This is something that has been weighing on my mind recently. So let’s talk about it.
As my marriage came crumbling down around me, I have had to get used to the feeling of discomfort. And one of the major sources of this discomfort has been the realisation that motherhood may not be on my radar. I have not cancelled out having children altogether. Not by a long shot, but right now I am single and it is certainly at the forefront of my mind.
Here are some of my recent thoughts on whether to have children in my thirties or not:
It is Okay to be Unsure, Even at 30
For lots of women, their maternal instinct is strong. They have this deep sense of urgency to be a mother from an early age. They know that starting a family is their calling and have zero doubts about it. Take my mother as an example. She met my father at 19 and by 22 she had me, with no doubts in her mind. The idea was not intimidating to her and it felt 100% natural. However, for me, I have moments of broodiness. I catch myself tearing up at photos of babies and longing to be a mother. But I am also used to being childless. The idea of having a baby to look after 24/7 is terrifying. And I am selfish. I enjoy my weekends, brunches and spontaneous city trips despite my ticking biological clock. And I know I am not the only one like this.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
At the age of 30, almost everyone I know is either married or has children or both. I can count on my hands, the people I went to school with who haven’t started a family yet. However, comparison is the thief of joy. As happy as I am for my friends when I see their swelling bellies and baby scans, I am also happy to wake up late on a Saturday. I like to do my yoga unbothered and spend the day how I want. It is ok to do things in your own time. Do not feel pressured to join the club, just because it is society’s expectation of you to be a mother.
Educate Yourself on Fertility/Options
By this age, you’ll definitely have heard comments like “So any plans for starting a family?” And while these comments can get really irritating and feel like a personal attack on your womanhood, it is important to educate yourself on future options.
Only recently have I really started to think about different future options. At around the age of 30, our fertility decreases and at 35, we have an even sharper decline meaning the chances of falling pregnant naturally can be difficult. Modern medicine is our friend here. Thanks to the miracle of freezing eggs, IVF, surrogate mothers and of course fostering/adoption, we have plenty of options for the future. However, it is important to educate yourself if you think you may want kids in your late 30s.
Being a Mother Does Not = Womanhood
Your womanhood is not determined by having children and there is still a stigma around women who choose not to have a family. We are portrayed as lonely, cold and unlovable, while men who choose not to have kids are “career-driver” and “successful.” However, the reality is that more and more women are choosing not to have children nowadays. We are going to break the stigma by having conversations about it.
And while I myself am still undecided about whether or not I will have kids, I am open to having the conversation. I am starting to look at my options and educate myself to get a better understanding of what my future might look like!
I hope this advice is somewhat useful and would love to hear your opinions on the subject of motherhood and fertility in your thirties!