me holding Sean, 1971
There’s a tightrope you walk when you get into your 30s, and it goes something like this:
a) You need to be old enough to know thyself and thus have a realistic chance of being in a relationship that will last more than 6 months. You have to have met enough possible mates to know who you will love until the year 2067. And you have to be wise enough to know the difference between heart-palpitating desire – and calm, long-term affection. Lastly, you must have sowed enough wild oats to have them purged from your system.
b) You have to be young enough to have children.
Now, not everyone wants kids, but if you do, the unfortunate truth is that modern technology and medicine have done very little to widen the window of opportunity for women. Chances of conception dwindle pretty fast after you hit 35, and there’s precious little you can do about it (besides fuck, of course).
The problem is this: Tessa and I just got married a few months ago, and we’re having fun. We love our freedom, our peripatetic freelance life, and we’re not terribly psyched about tethering ourselves to a child right now. That may sound selfish, but the honest truth is that it took me FOREVER to get to this place, when I could finally be married, and Tessa had to ford unbelievable mountains to get to me. Do we need to be a baby factory right away?
But then the question is, “how long are we allowed to wait?” I’m 36, Tessa is 34. There are now ways to predict how long you might have, but these are also problematic, and while Tessa says she’d love to know what her “sell-by” date is, a lot of women would be horrified by that knowledge.
This stuff also gets you into very prickly territory with right-wingers, whom I believe have been putting the hard-sell on dwindling fertility rates in order to shame working, independent women into lactating domesticity. If I see one more story about forty-something women who wax maudlin about the children they gave up for their career, I’m going to puke.
As for us, I wish there was some pithy advice, or an old wives’ tale that could provide the answers, but in reality, it’s a fish-or-cut-bait scenario. My desire for a large family has been tamed by the reality of how old we are. And not to be crass or anything, but I’d like to have at least two children in case we lose one. That’s the advice I have gleaned from the ancient Mormon DNA that swims through my chromosomes; my forefathers buried so many children that they were forced to have several. I don’t think my heart