A few years ago a friend of mine told me that “we” women who had gone to university didn’t want children until it was too late. He knew me well enough not to remind me of the biological clock that was supposedly already ticking when I was 28 but I knew him well enough to know that that was exactly what he meant to tell me.
Back then I brushed off his remarks as coming from someone who needed to convince himself that my type of women, i.e. strong, independent and ambitious, were not for him. He was approaching 40, married and had already two children with a third on the way. Whereas he had gone to university, his wife, the mother of his two younger kids, hadn’t and was running a small hotel at the time. The more we became friends the more I realized that he desperately tried to cling to his marriage and “projects,” as he liked to call them, so his second and third children, unlike his eldest son, didn’t have to grow up without a father. So he basically chose the family over his personal happiness and had decided to spend his life with a woman who was happy staying home with the kids, waiting for him to come home whenever he wanted, as long as she was his wife and lived what seemed to be a typical family life, the life that society makes you believe you should be leading at the latest in your mid-thirties. Even though I can partly understand that he wouldn’t want his children to grow up without mother and father I have always found this choice a sad one because he so obviously wasn’t happy and was attracted to women who, according to him, didn’t want a family until it was too late.
However, as time passed by, I realized that even though I didn’t share his opinion in general he was right about one thing: that life is all about timing, even though not in the sense that he was talking about.
When we are in our late teens and early twenties, we tend to fall in love with older men because the “men” our age can hardly be considered more than immature boys. When we are in our late twenties, we usually have just graduated from university and started to work in a field related to our degree. At that time, we may already be thinking about wanting children and a family – later – but we also might not feel quite ready yet and perfectly aware of the fact that we do want to just live for a while without having to figure a child into this life. I actually think that this attitude should not be frowned upon because it is certainly better to stand by your selfishness than to ruin a child’s life. I know for a fact that until recently I have been way too selfish to have a child and even now at almost 33 I am not sure if I could assume the responsibility for a child when sometimes I feel like being responsible for myself is already difficult enough. However, I sometimes catch myself thinking that maybe you never feel ready for this difficult task but that you might learn how to be a good mother – without necessarily saying that you’d be the stereotypical and perfect mom society seems to want you to be but rather that you will simply love your child and not kill them until they’re 18J
Anyhow, so in your early 30s you might try to get on the “partner track,” meaning that you don’t date wildly inappropriate men anymore but that you look for certain qualities in a man. Some women actually do find the perfect man to get married to and have children with when the time seems right, whereas others might have met their Mr. Right, too, but somehow things are not going the right way. This leaves them two options: either turn towards other, less “perfect” men to still be able to have the family they dream of or not settling for anything less because they know exactly what they want (and deserve) and know they have already found it. This will not necessarily keep them from moving on but there are people you meet who are never meant to leave you and that you might end up with after all someday, even if nothing is sure. This may sound cheesy and very romantic but in fact, it is rather seeing a possibility somewhere and believing, to a certain degree, in fate. It doesn’t mean, however, that it is impossible for you to run into someone else who you could imagine being with, without however, forgetting that special someone.
Then why are things still sometimes going the wrong way if you’re supposed to be looking for someone to spend your life with in your thirties and you find them (even though they might not have understood yet)? This is when the ugly antihero “timing” appears on the stage of life: When ambitious and independent men are in their late teens and twenties they most often just want to have fun. So they obviously usually don’t pick the women their age who have ambitions, too, but they settle for the “fun girls.” When they are in their early and mid-thirties the women their age who used to be the “fun girls” are usually already “off the market” and married to men who are not quite as picky as the more ambitious type who, deep inside of him, wants a woman who is able to hold a candle to him but is, at the same time, not quite capable of commitment (yet). In other words: despite their ambitions when it comes to their lives, those men cannot handle women their age who know what they want because committing to such a woman whose ultimate plans might actually be getting married and having a family would mean they’d take the risk of being, sooner or later, taken off the market, locked up in a serious relationship and being less free – even though this is definitely not what they would be headed for because a relationship isn’t the antithesis of freedom, it’s rather sharing your freedom with someone else and discovering the world together . Nevertheless, they paradoxically don’t really want to settle either for some woman with less ambitions or who is less independent because that is just not who they see themselves with.
This is why, in order to be able to focus on themselves without spending their thirties and early forties “alone,” they turn to younger women who won’t be too demanding in terms of planning a future because they have plenty of time left. Being with a younger woman when you’re a man in your thirties and maybe early fourties doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot be attracted to exactly the women you don’t want to be in a relationship with due to all these nasty inconveniences you’re trying to avoid. Rumor has it that sometimes such men even cheat on their younger girlfriends with an older woman, a woman who’d be in many ways perfect for them but who asks for too much too soon making any kind of real commitment too high a risk. However, in the long run, the younger girlfriends turn out not to be enough either so the men keep changing girlfriends and once they’re ready to finally commit and settle and have a family it might get increasingly impossible to find a woman their age who can still have children and they end up with a younger woman who due to being much younger is not really the type of woman they would have liked to spend their lives with but is the only option if they still want to have kids.
What it all comes down to is that strong, independent and ambitious women either have kids with a guy who is definitely not Mr. Right or they end up without children whereas the men end up with a younger woman who is not really the woman they wanted to settle with in the first place but who – because of their commitment issues until it was too late – is the only option left. However, realistically looking at the situation, the odds are high that neither of these relationships – both for men and women – will be ended by “until death do us part” but that they might end in divorce, which will leave the men and the women their age once more single, still attracted to one another if they’re being honest, and they might still end up together – just without children. This, in turn, then leads to the inevitable question why they didn’t commit 20 to 30 years earlier thus not throwing away the chance of having children with that special someone who really fit their idea of the father/mother of their children and who they met just in time to, one day when the time would be right, have everything they ever wanted with.
So yes, maybe it is all about timing and if we managed to talk to each other a little more seriously without getting too serious too soon things might turn out differently because the men wouldn’t be afraid of commitment and behave like idiots and the women wouldn’t be constantly scared of being dumped sooner or later in a male effort to flee any kind of commitment because it is “too soon.”
PS: I am absolutely not trying to sound condescending when I compare “strong, ambitious and independent” women with women who are happy being just a stay-at-home or part-time-working mom. Neither one is better than the other and both have the right to live. I don’t want to pass any judgment either, I just state what I see. I mean, who am I to judge anybody anyways? I belong to the type of women who will end up ruining society because they don’t have children, after all… ;) … at least if you believe what you hear around.