I had a birthday this week, and am now 32 years old. Sigh... It was a good day of relaxing, going for a run in beautiful weather, doing errands, and a surprise dinner with my husband. (I thought we would have to postpone as he is on-call this week.) He also gave me a Kindle, so I am in the process of downloading lots of books (mostly free!) from my reading list, and also of eating my words, as I have been known to proclaim loudly that I would *never* give up physical books. :-)
I had mixed feelings looking forward to this birthday. It was exciting as it would be my first birthday as a married lady, hopefully the first of many. I imagined the joy of Gil being the first person I would see on my birthday, and looked forward to that morning. On the other hand, my feelings are mixed as I find myself deeper into my thirties every year raises the pressure I feel to start a family ASAP.
When I was young, as any young child, I did not understand why adults would be upset about their birthdays. What's not to like about having your own special day? Now I kind of understand that frustration. It feels like I am constantly being bombarded with reminders of declining fertility in the thirties. It's on the news, it's in my inbox (usually from news sites), and it's in conversations with other women around my age. My mom has been hinting for a while now that she'd like a grand-child, and mother-in-law asked us right after our honeymoon when we would have a baby! Even my brother-in-law recently asked Gil when we going to give their mom a grandson. (Seriously? Is Downton Abbey and we need a male heir?) Talk about pressure!
The thing is, I don't think any of this pushing is helpful. There are lots of great reasons to have a child, but “got tired of my mom's nagging” and “all my friends were doing it” are not among them. Honestly, when I read another scary article or undergo an interrogation, it doesn't make me trust God more. Instead, I feel as though I need to get on it and have a baby while I'm still young enough for God to bless me. That's not the heart of the God who gave Isaac to Sarah, and Samuel to Hannah. I'm not saying it is wise to postpone childbearing and expect a miracle, but I am saying that we need to be careful not to use biology to put God in a box. It makes me sad that some people are not giving us the freedom to enjoy these first months of marriage without the pressure of starting a family right away (let alone the freedom to make our own decisions). I know friends who have started families young, and many of them took a lot of flack for being young parents, but I do believe that those of us who marry older also bear some stigma as well. Can't people just mind their own business sometimes? Not only that, but we all need to mind our words and make sure we are not being insensitive. We never know all the details of another person's life and struggles.
I just want to clarify: I have no issues with discussing these things when I'm with close friends. If you are my friend (AKA you know my last name, we have had conversations in places other than the church lobby, etc.) PLEASE don't be afraid to ask me about my hopes and plans. In fact, I love talking about pregnancy and babies, as it helps me get read for if/when it finally happens. I don't mind casual joking about having a baby if I know it comes from someone who genuinely cares about me and not just my ovaries. I just don't need the constant reminders that I'm getting older.
Okay, end of rant. :-) Thanks for reading and letting me be vulnerable.
|Ah, the days when birthdays were angst-free... and bowl haircuts were all the rage.|
PS While am not endorsing this movie in its entirety, any discussion of the unhelpful things people say to unmarried/childless women is best illustrated by this clip. Seriously makes me laugh every time.