Someone recently asked me what I thought as regards single women in their 30s and having children. The truth is that for the longest time, I didn’t want children. I didn’t even know it was obvious to other people until my brother referred to me as having dormant maternal instincts. I laughed when he said that. I felt like a secret of mine had been revealed. How I ever thought my not being crazy about children was a secret is beyond me. I avoided carrying babies. My mother forcibly put my nephews in my arms when they were born. I was never the aunt who would turn up and take all the kids out. You know how some women see a child and immediately coo over it while pulling its cheeks? I never did that. I just wasn’t that kind of person.
I was in no hurry to have children even after I turned 30 when I assume most women start hearing their biological clocks better. Then one day, a friend reminded me that when I was about 25, I said I never wanted to get married. I don’t remember saying it but I knew it was something I could have said. At that time in my life, my dream was to be in a stable, romantic relationship. Marriage held no appeal for me. When I turned 30, I still wanted the stable, romantic relationship but I also wanted the sense of stability that marriage can bring. Seeing how I had changed my mind about marriage told me that I could also change my mind about children. I might not be totally enamoured with kids but that didn’t mean I never ever wanted them.
To complicate matters, at a certain age, a woman’s body can no longer have children. If I decide to wait until I really do want children, my body may no longer be able to have them. That’s as a big motivation as any to have children. In spite of the fact that time does not appear to be on the side of women in their 30s when it comes to having children, I believe women today have it better than in the past. Halle Berry gave birth to her first child at 41 and her second child at 46. Lucy Liu just had a baby via surrogacy at 46. Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron both have adopted children. I know that these women I have given as examples are celebrities with access to the best in terms of money and support but I also know that these choices are available to women in Nigeria too. It’s just that in Nigerian society, people are less likely to be open when they adopt, get assistance with fertility or embrace surrogacy. The upshot of this is that women have so much help and choice today that it seems almost ungrateful to panic about when to have children.
There are so many factors involved in having children that I simply cannot cover them all here. For example, one doesn’t necessarily have to be married to have a child. I know a woman who decided that if she wasn’t married by age 35, she would get pregnant anyway. Truly, by that age, she was unmarried and got pregnant. She has a child today. That was the path that lady took. Yet for others, it is unthinkable to get pregnant without first getting married.
I’m a big believer in planning and goal-setting. So if you want to have children by a certain age, live your life with that as your goal but don’t rush into marriage or pregnancy simply to meet a target that you set for yourself. I believe in doing what you feel is right, not what society tells you is right. If you’re a single woman in your 30s and desperate to have children, only you can know what the best choice is for you. Only you can know what will make you happy. Only you have to live your life so only you can take the ‘right’ decision. What I will say is that whatever decision you do take, do not rush into it. Take your time. Life is not a competition. Trust your judgment and do what you feel is best.
To get my new book ‘How to be a single woman in your 30s in Lagos’, click here.
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