Taboo as it may be to ask a lady her age, I’ve never been bashful about revealing it. I’m 38 – and proud of it! I’m not afraid of getting older. With so many exquisite feminine role models out there setting an empowering example for aging gracefully, I look forward to following in their footsteps. I only intend to become more radiant, authentic in spirit, and comfortable in my own skin with age. I do believe my best years are still yet to come.
Even though it’s always been relatively painless to admit my age, it’s been considerably less so to admit that I’d like to have a baby. I kept that desire largely under wraps for a majority of my dating life, especially after uttering “the L-word” on a handful of appropriate occasions sent a few boys running for the hills, never to return.
Eventually I learned, if who I am and the things I want are going to scare a man away, he simply isn’t meant to be in my life, just passing through. I’ve also since met plenty of men who too desire partnership and parenthood, and they always stoke my hope. I was never anxious to broach these delicate subjects too quickly though, fearing the conversation might be our last. That is, until a few years ago when I really began facing facts about where I am on my biological frontier and the necessity of cutting to the quick.
I’ve always been more of a relationship minded, one-man-kind-of-gal. When I love someone, I’m all in, head-over-heels with blinders on. I view dating as a necessary evil. A means to an end, not a sport or breezy pastime I partake in for free drinks, dinner, or booty calls. If I don’t sense real potential, best to nip it in the bud. I’m keeping my eyes on the prize – “The One” who’ll stimulate my mind, body, AND soul – my true love, best friend, partner-in-crime. Cliché, yes, but true nonetheless.
After a long dry spell/mourning period, during which my friends repeatedly asked, “What about online dating?” I finally pushed through my resistance and joined OK Cupid, figuring I at least owed it a try before writing it off all together. At first I pro-actively searched for interesting, like-minded hotties but my first 3 initiations went unreplied to. My (straight male) hairdresser wasn’t surprised. “No, no, no. All you need to do is look at their profile. Maybe give them a star rating, but do not message guys. If they’re game, they’ll contact you. Remember, men like the chase.”
This helpful tidbit cut my trolling down to zilch, certainly a timesaver. Most queries that land in my inbox independently, however, typically inspire a reaction more akin to nausea than “quivers”. I’m always temporarily hopeful upon new “someone chose you!” notifications only to be repeatedly baffled by bizarro techniques in pick-up artistry and embarrassingly poor % of compatibility that leave little doubt as to which head they’re using.
In all fairness, there are a lot of stand-up guys on OKC. I’ve had several decent dates in NY and LA. The good eggs really do stick out like a sore thumb, but my doubts remain about the efficacy of finding true love in cyberspace. I still prefer that old-fashioned magic: randomly bump into someone cute, strike up a flirty conversation, watch the sparks fly!
So, as luck may have it, a good friend recently emailed me out of the blue: “I met a beautiful, talented, artistic gentleman wordsmith at a party in LA and I’ve since kept that knowledge in the back of my mind. He loves fine art, language, and the art of conversation, so I thought of you.” Ooooh, now this sounds intriguing! He included a link to Romeo*s FaceBook profile, suggesting if my curiosity piqued, he’d make an intro. Pleasantly surprised after surfing, I agreed. What an unexpected twist of fate!
Romeo and I proceeded to exchange some witty banter as we arranged a friendly rendezvous for tea at one of my favorite local cafes (his suggestion). I tried not to get too excited about the outcome in spite of his wicked attractiveness. I hoped we’d enjoy each other’s company at best, but prepared an iPhone exit plan alert should things take a turn for the worst.
To my delight, we had a spectacular date. We talked for hours about art, the creative process, bucket list travel, philosophy, mythology, the cosmos – you name it! We shared “getting to know you” stories, rapidly pulling at the threads of multiple simultaneous conversations, careful not to step on each other’s train of thought. We both promptly forgot what the hell we were saying several times, distracted by each other’s dazzling smiles. His attentiveness and charm, the sincerity and warmth with which he listened and spoke, stirred the butterflies in my belly.
As afternoon turned into evening, he suggested we continue our effortless flow over dinner at the Italian restaurant across the street. Seated on the twinkly-lit patio, fireplace and piano side, we drank wine and flirted intoxicatingly until eventually, we were holding hands across the table, starry-eyed. He handcrafted a sweet memento to commemorate the occasion and then walked me to my car, enveloping me in a big bear hug that felt like home. I could’ve curled up in that nook for ages and didn’t sleep a wink that night.
In true gentlemanly fashion, he texted the next day confessing that he couldn’t stop thinking about me and when could we meet again? YES! Soon we were back in each other’s electric presence, art appreciating and garden strolling at the Getty Villa in Malibu, sharing cocktails and apps at Moonshadows on a lounge bed overlooking the Pacific Ocean, followed by late night tea and cake in Bourgeois Pig’s enchanted dayglow forest – all his fantastical plans. Talk about WOO!
Something else quite unusual happened: we had the big talk on this, our second date. All the “scary” topics: past relationships, readiness for future ones, monogamy vs. polyamory, religion vs. spirituality, lifestyle, marriage, kids. He referred to them as the “nasty pitfalls” of relationships. You know, the real “deal breakers” you typically avoid discussing until you’re already infatuated, at which point it becomes trickier to part ways? Went there! And you know what? It wasn’t terrifying. Liberating is more like it. We both sensed something profound was afoot. Could we be… The One?
Our communication was so open and honest. A breath of fresh air. Clearly, we’d both learned a ton from our past relationships and had taken time to “do the work.” We seemed to be on the same page about everything. Well, about everything, except one thing – having kids.
No small matter indeed but it seemed to me, perhaps naively, that while we weren’t 100% in agreement, our perspectives could co-exist. He said he felt 98% sure that he didn’t want kids, leaving that 2% open to kismet. I shared that I always envisioned being a Mom, but had yet to meet a man who I felt was bona fide Daddy material. I admitted I could be happy living as an artist with the freedom to work and travel the world with my partner, clearly stating that: I want to create a family with the man I love, not just have a baby.
I’ve always felt strongly about not putting the cart before the horse. There are things you just can’t learn about a person overnight. Time is key. I want to enjoy getting to know my man and allow our relationship to unfold organically. Have fun, travel, and live together before we even consider bringing a baby into the mix. Who you choose to share your life and create another human being with is undoubtedly the biggest decision you’re ever likely to make – and I’m not keen on rushing that process, even if I am 38 (and ¾). First things first!
Having covered these bases to our mutual satisfaction, our romantic courtship continued with more sweet rendezvous replete with endless tête-à-tête, roaring fires, french desserts, sensual music, ambient lighting, rose-scented horizontal mambos, the whole nine yards.
Sadly, this rare trip on Cloud 9 came to a screeching halt when Romeo suddenly went M.I.A. First a text, then a voicemail went unanswered for days. Hmmm. This is not a good sign. One morning, I woke up to an opus sent via FaceBook that can only be best described as a goodbye letter. We later managed to iron things out (temporarily) after he admittedly freaked out and fell down the rabbit hole of negative projection, but the main reason topping his Dear Jill letter – my biological clock.
He explained that he needed to press pause on our whirlwind romance for some soul-searching and upon further reflection realized that his 98% was actually more like 100% NO, he did not want a kid much before the age of 50, if at all, and realistically, I only have a small window left in which to procreate if I’m lucky, and “dependents” just didn’t fit into his grand master plan.
Oh, SNAP! I’m officially at the stage when men cite my bio clock as a reason not to date me. That’s not an easy pill to swallow. Well, at least he used words, unlike one guy who leaned in for (what I thought was) whispering a sweet nothing, only to mimic the sound of a ticking clock in my ear, during our first (and final) date.
Having already experienced my fair share of insensitivity around this issue, I was willing to give Romeo partial credit for at least considering my best interests and whether he ought to set me free so I could find love, and maybe babies, with someone else. Intellectually, my mind understood this inclination, but my heart? Not so much.
At the end of the day, I wasn’t upset that Romeo didn’t want kids. I was upset that he didn’t even want to pursue me because I might want them. I’m all for getting the nasty surprises out of the way, but in hindsight, can we just get to know each other for a minute? Do we really need to have these talks on the second date? How about just exploring a special connection in the present moment before we gaze into the crystal ball and try to predict where this might all be heading?
With all due respect, we don’t need men to remind us of our bio clocks. Most likely, we’ve already been agonizing about it for years. Will circumstances align in enough time? It’s a nagging question that hits some pretty sensitive nerves, forcing us to re-examine every dating choice we’ve ever made: each past relationship, how long we stayed, whether we woulda, coulda, shoulda done anything differently. Was it really smart to prioritize my career? Should I have put myself out there more? What if I’d lived somewhere else? Was that a missed opportunity?
We know men don’t want to be pressured. Neither do we. Nor do we want to be “that girl” – teetering on the precipice of our fertility, not wanting to rush yet acutely aware of the finite amount of time we have left to make life-altering decisions. Unfortunately, now or never is nigh, and that’s not an uncomplicated awareness to confront.
Walk in these shoes: all your life you believed your destiny included (insert major life milestone here). One day, you look at the calendar. Years have whizzed by. You’ve hit the snooze button one too many times and must finally wake up, quit being in denial and accept that your dream might not happen at all, ever. Imagine what it’s like to reach that fork in the road in the primetime of your life. I know you can relate.
So, allow me to give men out there a few words of advice: if you’re ever tempted to use a woman’s bio clock as an excuse to end your relationship, do yourselves both a favor and lie to her. “I’m not ready” or “I need time to work through xyz” is a reason everyone can relate to, often requiring little explanation. “I’m just not that into you” would even be preferable. Pointing to her ticking time womb as your rationale for steering clear? Please, don’t. It will only hurt her more than you can possibly conceive.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE advocate of truth telling, regardless of how messy, inconvenient, and uncomfortable it might be. But if practicing your brand of radical honesty is only going to result in hurt feelings and nothing can be done to change things – SAVE IT. “Lies of omission” are not always bad. I’m not talking about cheating, stealing, or other deceptions that put someone’s health or safety at risk. I’m talking about inflicting unnecessary emotional pain when no possible good can come of it because you think “honesty is always the best policy.”
There’s a difference between withholding feelings vs. telling lies. Keeping thoughts to our self can be compassionate. We don’t always need to confess every dirty detail and pour salt in the wound. You may not even be aware there is a wound, so if you’re truly a gentleman, err on the side of caution and play the “it’s not you, it’s me” card.
Spare me the awareness that I’m missing out on getting to know you because of something I may never be able to have and don’t even know for sure I want. It cuts to the core and ignorance would be far more blissful to live with than your Truth. What people don’t know can’t hurt them. My ship may have already sailed and I’m figuring out how to come to terms with that fact. Your unbridled candor may only twist the knife deeper, so approach such discussions with extreme sensitivity.
If you’re clear that fatherhood just isn’t for you, that’s your prerogative, 100% understandable, no judgment! Some women do want the wedding and baby ASAP and yeah, it’s definitely best to assess up front and not go there if that’s the case. But don’t assume that just because a woman is nearing the end of her reproductive years that getting pregnant is automatically her top priority.
Falling in love and wanting to share my life with someone is actually more important to me than whether our relationship leads to having a baby. It really must go in that order, for me anyway. And I can only hope that my next real love is open to exploring me as a woman first, a potential Mommy-to-be second.
All I can do is have faith. I’ve asked the Universe for what I’d like to unfold in my life and if it’s meant to be, it will be. Motherhood is still a dream I’m not ready to give up quite yet. I’m staying positive and mentally preparing myself for Plan B. No matter what, I’m determined to craft a life full of love and happiness. After that, every dream is truly figure-out-able!
“Regardless of how much you want or think you need something, if it’s not in the divine plan for you to have it, you will not have it. There’s nothing to be disappointed about. Your blessings have your name on them. When you’re ready, an opportunity will be presented to you. When it shows up, you’ll need to be ready.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant
Is your bio clock tick talking to you? Do you dis/agree that “lies by omission” are sometimes the kindest approach? I’d like to hear your stories and opinions, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!
Thirty-seven and Counting by Kate Lunau
an art project by Jennifer Rozbruch in which she examines the physical and personal life cycle of the female as prescribed by traditional social norms—from puberty to sex, love, marriage, and motherhood. Made from a working clock, its hand follows a timeline of personal milestones that many women feel they must achieve on a particular schedule.