I'm a 33 year old woman who has no interest in having children. If your first reaction to that statement was something along the lines of, "Oh, just wait, you'll change your mind," or "You never know until you try it, " I beg of you: please keep it to yourself. You're not alone in having that reaction, and I've heard it a thousand times. The thing is, I won't, and I do. And it can make dating awfully interesting.
See, I like children. Hell, there are some children I even love. A lot. Like, stand-in-front-of-an-oncoming-train a lot. And so men are occasionally confused by what they see as conflicting positions. I talk about my friends' kids with love, admiration and excitement (especially when it comes to buying them books), but I'm not at all interested in populating a nursery of my own.
Three years ago, this wasn't an issue. I'd never be asked about my desires for marriage or children on a first, second or even fifth date. But now? Hoo, boy. People want to know what's up with my reproductive system like it's going out of style. Which, I suppose, it is. I can't have more than a few thousand viable eggs left at this point.
Case in point? A couple of weeks ago, I went on a solidly good first date with a guy we'll call John. He talked a bit about having had lots of lackluster relationships in his 20s (he's now 34), and about wanting to change that pattern now. He also talked about how all his cousins are married with kids, and how he feels a bit behind. At first, I was taken aback by all this marriage/baby talk on a first date (a woman bringing this up would, no doubt, be labeled as crazy and desperate as opposed to adorably open and honest), but I found it kind of charming. (I didn't feel the need to bring up my own stance on the first date, but I appreciated the openness.) I talked a little about my friend Miya's daughter, whom I adore, and about how my pregnant cousin Abby was almost to her due date.
On the second date, though? The man was couldn't stop talking about how "far behind" he is and how his life to this point has been a waste---all because he's not married and doesn't have kids. He talked about it a little. And then some more. And, finally, he wrapped up by launching into a speech about how he sleeps so much better when he sleeps next to someone, and let's go to a comedy club (despite my having said, repeatedly and that very evening, that I do not enjoy comedy clubs).
Obviously, this guy is a textbook version of oblivious. I made up a 7:30 AM meeting to get away at the end of the date, then steadfastly stepped away when he tried to kiss me goodnight, and still he acted shocked and led on when I sent him a (very nice) thanks but no thanks email a couple of days later.
And yet, he is a great example of an important point: women are not the only ones with biological clocks. When it comes to feeling subject to the whims of nature and the rules of society, we women are not alone. After all, we can't possibly have been the only ones enforcing the norms all this time.
So, let's make a deal. The next time a woman tells you she doesn't want children, pay her the respect she deserves and take her at her word. And when a man tells you he wants kids, pay attention and assume it's not just a seduction tactic. After all, when you're 33, you don't have time to spend on people who want your babies.
(original photo by velkr0 on flickr)