I rented "Grey Gardens" and am reading "Fear of Flying"—no wonder I’m so confused about what it means to be a woman! At 32 and 9/10ths years old, should I concentrate on procreating? Should I feel guilty for my jetset, unmarried lifestyle? Is it okay to enjoy life and travel? Am I on a slippery slope to spinsterhood? And is being a spinster all that bad? Will I regret not having children? Or having them? Am I being selfish for not getting married and having lots of babies? Would it be more selfish still to create children in my own image?
I love my life! I love traveling on horseback through the Brazilian outback and climbing the crumbling stones of Petra. I love champagne on the Riviera. I love my two cats—but then there’s all this confounded social pressure. Does the fact that I am single and have two cats automatically mean that I’m one raccoon away from becoming Little Edie? I wish I could contact my 40-year-old self and ask her what I’m supposed to do at 32 and 9/10ths.
Because this is the time! The crossroads! It’s babies or bust! You aren’t supposed to mess around with bad boys at 32 and 9/10ths. You’re supposed to be interviewing for the title of life partner. Time, TIME, is of the essence! At 32 you’re running out of it. That’s what they say. Cruel time is about to stomp all over your youth and ovaries. Not even Oil of Olay can save you from wrinkles and a slowing metabolism now. But would it be the worst thing for me to proceed as is? Going out to parties at night, traveling like crazy month to month, and not sowing those all-important seeds?
And what is even scarier—what if I DO sow those all-important seeds? I’m terrified of giving birth, of having this parasite feeding off me and rearranging all my organs inside me. And of caring for a rather uninteresting and totally demanding real doll who doesn’t even have the ability to speak or go to a toilet for the first two years. TWO years! Yeegads!
I just don’t know what my life is supposed to be about. I mean, I know what it’s supposed to be about, but I don’t know if that’s me. My friends and family don’t help—their stories run the gamut: young divorcees with children, single women with sperm-donor babies and adopted babies from other countries, fabulous second and third and fourth marriages, abusive husbands, children with mental disabilities, single women in their forties living la vida loca, swingers, sex pots and even a couple good marriages, some with kids and some without. All of these people are either happy or miserable without any defining formula to it. What seemed promising became lousy, and what seemed ridiculous became sublime.
So what do I do? What am I supposed to do? I wish I had more time. I wish I could just wait and see, just go with the flow. But women aren’t allowed to do that. Women have to think about these things at age 32 and 9/10ths. Whatever will be MUST be right now, at least it has to be in the works. I feel all this pressure. Stress! And why? Simply because my birthday is around the corner and I will be 33.
And that only gives me a few years left to figure this problem out. I don’t like babies but I love children. Babies scare me—they are just so helpless. And what about marriage? Will I be satisfied by one man for the rest of my life? And yes, I’m talking about SEX SEX SEX. What about passion? Romance? Will they last forever with the right man? What if I can’t find the perfect man? What if he doesn’t exist? What if he starts out perfect and changes? What am I supposed to do—have babies with an imperfect man?
Oh I am sooo confused. And worried and stressed. I want my carefree life to continue, but now it is possibly at the expense of something, of my ovarian duties. And what if I shirk them? What if I end up with a house full of fabulous foster children who need my love? Is that okay? I am just terrified that my forty-year-old self is going to want to seriously kick my ass based on the things I do or do not do right now.
I know there are no right answers, and that just makes it worse.
8 thoughts on “ThirtySomething=Babies or Bust?”
You letter pains me as i could have been me 20 years ago, and 10 years ago, and five years ago. Life is shorter than you think. Forget about “some day”. Forget about your family and friend’s expectations. Travel should remind you that there are other ways to live than getting preggers and settling down aka settling. There is no right answer and there will always be regrets about the road not taken. Don’t waste your time on party boys if they are a symptom of your low self esteem, not because they would make bad fathers. Apples and oranges. Hang around with men and friends that make you feel good about yourself. Don’t buy into our culture’s expectations of what you should be doing with your body. If you meet the right partner the two of you can
go forth and invent your own relationship that works for you. If you are lonely a lot, maybe you need to be in a relationship. If you are basically content, don’t sweat it, you’re the independent type. There really is no meaning to life, just a life to savor and enjoy every last minute of. Stop and smell the roses, be grateful for all you have and spend quality time with those you love while they are still here. Let people know how much they mean to you. Enjoy the creative , authentic , unique you.
Lynn, you are amazing! I feel so much better reading your thoughtful comment! Birthdays have begun to start freaking me out. Instead of just party plans, I have lately become mired in LIFE plans, which ain’t nearly as fun as calling in the strippers…
I have two very simple pieces of wisdom that may or may not help:
One, don’t make any decisions out of fear. Marry because you’ve met someone you want to hold on to, not because you’re scared you’ll be single forever. For the same reason, stay single because you love it, not because you’re afraid of commitment. Don’t let the unknown sway you from amazing possibilities because you’re scared of “what if?”
Two, we regret the things we have not done more than the things we have. But that’s for you to decide.
When I read this I had to laugh…that was me 2 and 7/12 years ago. Although at the time I was closer to 40 than 30. I too had 2 cants (ans still do) and was worried that I’d end up being that scary spinster cat lady in the neighborhood. You know the one that dies and when someone discovers the body the house is filled with 117 cats that are suddenly homeless. I too, didn’t like babies and couldn’t imagine my life with a 9 pound dictator, how could I possibly give up my trips on a whim, my late night drunk dialing booty calls? But also was tossing around the idea of life without all that. Do I want a child? how the heck am I going to get one if I’m so far from even meeting a man who is respectable enough that I’d want his sperm. Then bang! wow! it happened. In a bar, of course, I met the man who with in 6 months of meeting him, I was wearing a ring that was big enough to show off, and with in a year we were married and the next year the 3 bedroom house and child. Now I can’t imagine going on trips on a whiim and drunk dialing booty calls. I miss my dictator when I’m not with her and know now that if it’s suppose to happen it will and there are no right or wrong answers. It’s all about the journey, enjoy whatever roads you happen upon. It’s not necessarily the ones you choose but perhaps they choose you.
Susan, you make me laugh! Are you one of our writers? You should be. Your comment is on literary par with Erica Jong. Please write for us, and congratulations! I hope you, the fellow with the worthy sperm and the dictator are all very well… :)
I’m not one of your writers but I’d love to give it a whirl….Let me know what to do! It’s nice to know I made someone other than myself laugh.