Last week at an office Christmas lunch, I overheard a male colleague talking to a woman who I know has just celebrated her 42nd birthday, as she was very open about the number on the day. He asked her if she had any children and she said no. He then, rather inappropriately in my opinion, asked if she never wanted them. I could see panic flashing across her face as she furiously tried to work out what to say and after a few moments she replied, ‘well I’m not sure if I want children or not’.
The male colleague looked awkward and I could tell what he was thinking, as I was thinking the same thing. By both ‘usual’ society and medical standards, you might assume that the ship had possibly sailed for this woman. At 42, I also would have assumed she would know if she wanted kids or not, as she most likely would need some form of medical assistance to have them.
Later I was in a conversation with two male colleagues, both of similar age to me and in similar roles, both with wives and two kids. Conversation turned to the recent kids Christmas party that the company put on and I was asked if I had kids. I replied ‘no’ and the conversation moved on to other things, but I couldn’t help but wonder if those colleagues too wanted to ask me if I wanted children.
The answer to that question currently is that I don’t know. By 35 I really thought I would confidently know within myself if I did or I didn’t. I guess most people would also assume a 35 year old woman would know. After all, I’ve been a proper functioning (most days) adult for a long time now.
At times throughout my life I have thought that I knew. When I left school I was envisioning a life like Amanda Woodward in Melrose Place, a ball breaking advertising executive. When I finished university I threw myself into work in that industry and I loved working, so much so that I spent a lot of long hours doing it. I never really felt I’d get the urge to have a family, unlike many of my friends who spoke about their desire to be a young, cool mum and were keen to 'settle down'.