I'm 40 years old, single, and currently in the depths of trying to make a big decision: Should I have a baby on my own?
I know you think you might have read this story before. A woman reaches a certain age, hasn't met The One, and so decides to go it alone, before her biological clock stops ticking.
Only for me, a man has never been part of this equation. I've never envisioned a man by my side when trying to decide whether I want kids.
The reason is a combination of factors, but if I was to distil it down to a singular focus, it would be that I am super independent and have never felt the need for a long-term partner.
Listen: Childfree by choice. Post continues after audio...
For those in relationships, this might sound strange and sad. I get that. I'll admit to being strange, yes, but I am not sad at all, I promise you. In fact, I'm the opposite of sad, and it's a big reason why I'm wrestling with the decision to have a baby in the first place.
Because the thing is, I love my life. To me, it's full and rich (not in a materialistic way - I am a writer after all). I have a family I adore and friends who I cherish. I have a cat who I named after Murphy Brown… a fictional character who was a single mother, by the way. I live in an apartment I scraped money together to buy. It’s run-down, but it’s mine. I have a role that pays me to write anything and everything, including Married At First Sight opinions and reviews of zombie movies. Needless to say, I love my job.
Yet for all the things I've written, this is the most personal story I have told about my life thus far. And while I am writing it for myself, I’m mostly writing it for you - the person who is reading this.
What I’ve come to appreciate, at the ripe old age of 40, is that the more I hear of stories similar to mine, the more I feel a sense of community and kinship. It’s good to know I’m not alone. I’m hoping that by sharing my story, you might also feel the same.
Sometimes I think everyone else has it all figured out while I'm floundering in a sea of indecisiveness. I ask myself, "What the hell is wrong with me?" But I've gotten a lot better at telling my inner critic to shut up. Her name is Norma. She can be pretty mean.
I should tell you now that there's no neatly wrapped conclusion with a bow on top when you get to the end of this. This is real life, and it’s messy.
So, I didn't start thinking seriously about the possibility of having kids until I was 37. That's because 37 tips into "late 30s" and I just figured I should "know things" by my late 30s. Of course, I had fielded the "When are you going to have kids?" question for years prior. It's a woman's cross to bear, although it really shouldn't be.