There’s a unique kind of feeling a woman experiences when her relationship ends at 38. With the usual grief comes a cocktail of something akin to four parts panic and two parts determined (and strategic) hopefulness.
If I meet a new partner by 40, I mused, I might still be able to have a baby.
That’s, of course, assuming one has any control over when they fall in love. And assuming I fell in love with a man. And assuming he, in or near his 40s, would want to have a baby when he’d likely already had at least two kids…
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Nevertheless, my strategic timeline helped me from succumbing to the panic.
Even when my friends, who’d gotten divorced at the same time my relationship ended, found new husbands within six months of their breakups and squeezed out one more — and sometimes two more — kids before the age of 41. Even when I hit 39 and a half and still had not found someone I would actually want to have a kid with.
There’s still time, I kept telling myself.
And then… I don’t know how to explain what happened. I can’t say that I don’t want to be a mum anymore. Or that I made a decision about motherhood, one way or another.
I think, at 43, I stopped being so certain that I wanted to have my own baby. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through a pregnancy in this phase of my life. I am not against it… but I also wouldn’t purposefully pursue it.
The summer of my 44th birthday, I found myself seriously considering adoption. I remember having a really long conversation about it with my brother and his wife during our camping trip. And yet, there was an undercurrent of apathy there. I came back to the same conclusion I’ve always had: I do not want to be a mum by myself.
I wanted a partner with whom to take that journey.
In the absence of that, the idea of motherhood doesn’t feel so right to me.