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September 25, 2018

What will it be? To breed or not?

What will it be? To breed or not?
What will it be? To breed or not?

I am at that age – 36. This is the age when people promised me that my biological clock would be ticking; the age at which I would hit some kind of reproductive existential crisis as a woman. I am so fascinated by the female condition that I have made a trade of it, and I was looking forward to the beating drum of a biological clock that would grow into a gong. I wanted to feel this thing, document this thing… maybe even write a song to its rhythm. But nothing… my loins are silent.

I turned 36 in February and members of my family have since given me permission to fornicate and reproduce out of wedlock. An uncle said: “You are getting late – don’t worry about us, we will close our eyes and you can pop out two babies… Pap! Pap!” I laughed as he clicked his fingers, thinking that his click click rendition of child birth made it sound so easy. The truth is it takes roughly four years to conceive, carry, birth and breastfeed two babies into a modicum of independence. Aunties have also chimed in, and even my father asked me what the plan is.

There is no plan. I have said frequently that I would adopt children and that I would only give birth to my husband’s children. I know that many women choose single motherhood but, frankly, it has always seemed negligent to bring a fatherless child into this world. Fathers have so much to offer. However, when it comes to adoption I think the child is already on the planet, and my single-parent household will be an improvement on growing up in an institution.

Most of us think of parenting as part of the human inheritance and, for many, it does just fall into place. For some, like me, who have thought mothering will happen within the context of a two-parent household, my biological window is closing in and the context is yet to be created. I now have to reenvision my dreams, and either create or accept a new context. Creating a rushed marriage for the sake of having children seems like a sure way to heartache for all involved. So, what about a single parent household with me at the helm? Do I care about pregnancy and passing on my genetic material enough to go it solo? Can I really enter into motherhood? Is, “You might regret not having kids” a reason to bring life into the world? What about the poor children who will grow up with me, as the single parent, without their father to mitigate whatever crazy neurosis I have to dish out?

I have played with the idea of not being a mother… but the truth is that while stuck in traffic between a doctor’s visit and a school play does not seem like the best way to spend a random Tuesday in my 45th year on the planet, the idea of being 60 in a quiet house filled with art, books and the occasional drunk friend is by far less appealing.

I want children. I want to raise a few good men and perhaps a woman (God! To raise a good woman. What a daunting and important job). I thought I was ambivalent about motherhood but writing this article has shown me what I really want are children. Now I just need six months to wrap my head around this concept, and to figure out how I am actually going to get pregnant – a friend? The sperm bank?

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