I have had a few long relationships, but mostly, I’ve just always been a dater. I like meeting new men, being excited about a date and then, if it goes badly (as most do) I enjoy regaling my friends about another bad date. Even when I was in relationships, I was never really futurizing. I never told my boyfriends I wanted to get married or gave them an ultimatum. The weird thing is, I never got down or depressed about my bad dates. I wasn’t ever really desperate to have another boyfriend. I was perfectly content to date and enjoy that big world of dates until at age 35, someone said to me, “You have about five years left to have a baby. I’m sure you’ll make it.” (OK. That someone was my dad. I wasn’t going to say it was him because I wouldn’t want him to feel bad, but this statement sent me into a deep depression… for years.)
I’d never really thought of it that way – five years left! to have a baby, let alone two babies? I know that sounds stupid, that I, a single 35 year old woman who LOVED children, hadn’t thought about my own diminishing fertility. Maybe it was that I hadn’t ever heard it out loud or that I lived in a fantasy world that I was invincible. So it was actually a blessing that my dad said it because at that moment, it was like that hackneyed old clock actually started ticking loudly in my head. Oy, I was such a cliché.
Instantly, I started getting a billion baby shower invitations and Oprah was talking about women who put their careers ahead of having a family, everyday. I spiraled further into depression.
At this point, I wasn’t really thinking about being a Mom Solo. I thought I had to find a man to marry…. and I wanted that. I really wanted to have a genuine, true, lasting love and have a mom/dad/baby family – like the family I grew up with. But REAL love was hard to find – I wasn’t willing to settle on sort of love.
The plan: Meet THE ONE REAL LOVE in the next few months, date for 2 years, have the wedding and get married by age 38, have 2 babies before I turn 41. Whew. Good Plan.
I amped up my internet dating searches but I was horrified to see how many guys my age were only looking to date much younger women. So horrified, I wrote about this in my dating profile.
Mark23 wrote to me.
Mark23: Hey Lil’ Mitzvah, (it was Jdate) the reason I only want to date women under 35 is that I want to have kids. Sorry if that is upsetting to you.
As you can imagine… this was SO upsetting to me.
Lil’ Mitzvah: Hey Mark23, Yeah, well I want to have kids too. Women can still have kids when they are over 35.
Mark23: Yeah, I know, but it’s just that I want to have a few kids. So, sorry if I upset you. Good luck.
I couldn’t let it go. I was paying $40 a month to meet ignorant jerks like this?
Lil’ Mitzvah: Maybe I want a lot of kids too. You have no idea what it feels like to be that woman who is running out of time. Good luck finding your fertile young lover. When you ask her to put on the White Album and she stares at you blankly, I guess you’ll have your eight children to cry to.
Mark23: You are right; I don’t know what it feels like to be in your shoes. I should have been a little kinder. But when I do go on dates with women over 35, I feel that they don’t even really care about me and who I am. I feel like they just look at me as a potential sperm donor and father, but I’m more than just that. I’m a great guy. Sorry if I upset you.
At first, I was kinda thinking “Wah wah, poor you, Mark 23,” but then… I thought about it and it made sense. Just as Mark23 had labeled me as “Miss Old Eggs” others were labeling him “Mr. Sperm Bags.” Yeah, I see.
It can be annoyingly uncomfortable to be a single woman in your late 30’s. People really treat you like you are an incomplete person or like you have a terrible disease- like you need fixing. They look at you like you are suffering deeply and say stuff to you like, “You have to hurry up and find someone if you want children,” “Have you tried the internet?” “I can’t understand why you’re still single, you’re so great!” “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone,” and, my favorite, “I just want you to find a nice guy and be happy.”
Of course, I felt more and more pressure to “find someone” as I got older. My stomach was in a constant knot as I worried every day, “would I ever have a baby?”
I kept modifying my life plan:
-Date for two years, have a baby, then get married or elope.
-Date for a yearish. Have twins. Who needs to get married?
The older I got, the more I was looking at guys as potential procreating partners (ppp’s) and I overlooked things like- “wow, he really drinks a lot,” or “he doesn’t have a good sense of humor,” or “he just said that his mom is and always will be the most important woman in his life,” or “he hates my friends and they hate him,” or “He’s not so interested in sex,” or “he doesn’t really get me.”
I was now 40. My man search had been exhausting, unfulfilling and disappointing. I found myself dreading dates and even if a date did go well, I would think, “So I’m supposed to quickly get to know this guy and have a deep bond with him asap? All I could think about was when am I going to have my baby?
And there was my answer.
I was just going to have my baby on my own, and put all the dating on hold, so that maybe someday, I could really meet someone I really wanted to be with.
It was all about getting mentally prepared to have a baby. I was terrified.
I was so terrified that it sent me into an even bigger depression. I had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be one of those happy, smiling families I obsessed over on Facebook where the husband and wife are so in love as they lift their baby in the air. But I hoped I’d me a new kind of family. MY family.
I didn’t know if I’d be isolated, lonely and depressed.
I didn’t know if I could afford it.
I didn’t know if I’d be able to just do it at all. But still, I wanted this more than anything.
What I did know was that if I didn’t jump in, I’d always regret it. I was going to work as hard as I could to let go of what I thought my life would be, so that I could fully enjoy my reality.
This was really the biggest example of blind faith of my life.