Since I was about sixteen, seventeen, I have been aware of the biological clock. Mine, yours, the girl sat across from me in German class – I’m from a very small village where these isn’t much to do and some people had an alarm set very, very early. Of course, I’ve never been much of an early riser, so when I couldn’t hear so much as a tick-tock, let alone a clanging cacophony of bells, I just assumed mine was set a little bit later. When I was little, I never played with baby dolls*, I never felt a strong urge to babysit and when people started getting sprogged up, my strongest emotion usually ran to fear of breaking them. And between you and me, I was also maybe kind of a little bit bored shitless of watching them do nothing, trying not to miss my friends and well, yeah, intense jealousy. Because I AM THE BABY.
Anyway, my twenties went on, I met my boyfriend, we moved in, we bought a house, we got a car, we adopted a cat and we both kept getting older. But still no baby alarm. By the time I was twenty-seven and he turned thirty, I came to the conclusion that my alarm must be broken. I just wasn’t a baby person. It wasn’t like I didn’t know what unconditional love was, like I said, I had a cat but there was zero maternal instinct. I did not want to pass my genes on to another human being, I wanted to buy handbags and go on nice holidays during term time. I wanted to be selfish, put on a face mask on a Thursday if I felt like it, paint my nails and get lots of sleep. Not a single part of me wanted a baby.
By and by, things with the BF got worse and by worse, I mean tedious, and eventually, we broke up. With my relationship blinkers stripped away, I started to see all kinds of things in the world that I hadn’t known I wanted before. Adventure, passion, travel, red hair, shoes that cost half a month’s rent. I was far more ambitious than I had known, considerably less bitchy and between you and I, I had the raging horn. It’s amazing what can happen to a gal when she gets out of the wrong relationship and on to the right man. So I took my opportunities where I found them, moved to New York, dated lots of different kinds of chaps, bought the shoes, coloured my hair, did what I dare, wore men’s shirts, short skirts, the whole Shania shebang. And man, I felt like a woman. But I still didn’t feel like I wanted a baby.
Today, I’m 32, going on 33 (or 16 going on 17, if you ask my mum) and I’m conflicted. I still can’t hand on heart say I definitely want kids. That said, I can’t hand on heart say I definitely don’t. This, my friends, puts me in a bit of a pickle. On the one hand, my biological clock might not be ticking but old father time keeps on marching on and as everyone and their mother, including my own, keeps telling me, getting pregnant is not going to get easier as I get older. Of course, it’s 2013 and there is a myriad of options available to me that weren’t around even a decade ago – I could freeze my eggs, I could get hormone tests to see how fertile I am, I could get knocked up by my gay best friend and pretend to be Madonna in that film. You know the one. But on the other, more sensible and financially viable hand, I know none of those things are right for me. Or my gay best friend. The idea of someone giving me a baby, waving their jazz hands and shouting ‘TA-DA’ scares me shitless. And yes, I know everyone out there with a baby will tell me that I will change my mind and that I will want to heave a living being out of my vagina one day but I also know there is another group of women who are thinking, ‘Eep, this freaks me out too. WHAT ARE WE TO DO, LINDSEY?’ Sadly, I only have a blog and my own Muppet, not answers.
My mum always told me that before she got pregnant with me, she woke up one morning and wanted a baby so badly, it was all she could think about until she was knocked up. Lucky Pa, YOU’RE WELCOME. Obviously this could be a) smoke being blown up my vain arse or b) a reaction to my older brother being just that, a brother, and not the baby girl my mother thought she had given birth to for the first two hours of his life but assuming it’s true, it’s something I can’t even begin to relate to and I can’t ignore that nagging feeling that something is wrong with me.
Sometimes, in my more maudlin moments or when I’ve been watching so much telly that Beaches has inevitably appeared on a random channel, I get little flashes of a future where I’m buttoning up the coat of an adorable little girl on the steps of a gorgeous Park Slope brownstone in which I do not currently live, waving while a gorgeous Park Slope husband who I am not currently married to takes her off to school. While I go back to bed. And on occasion, when things are going well with my Gentleman Caller, it occurs to me that our kids would be beautiful and clever and competitive, precocious little shits destined to spend many, many hours in therapy but also to win every spelling bee for miles around. But then he usually opens his mouth and says something about a strategy board game that he must get out of bed to finish and then life has killed the dream I dreamed.
So I don’t know. Right now, I suppose I have to say, I’m not ready. But once upon a time I would have told you I hated dogs and now, you should see my face when confronted with a puppy. And I know there are literally thousands out there screaming ‘a baby isn’t a puppy!’ and I know! You’re right!
It’s much harder to get hold of a puppy than it is to have a baby.
*for the record, I did have a baby doll called ‘First Love’ but after I’d dressed it, undressed it and made it pee once the thrill was sort of gone. So I went back to putting my Barbie dolls in worryingly distressing scenarios, like the time Ken’s condom broke and she didn’t know if she was pregnant or not. Funny story, that was also the time I had to explain what a condom was to my next door-but-one neighbour. I said it was a balloon for your willy but not as much fun as a proper balloon and I stand by that description.
How I knew that, however, is a mystery to all of us.