Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

More Than Just Poor Planning

I was at a friend’s party, and at one point in the evening I found myself sitting with a bunch of other women. Most of us had met before, but none of us knew each other well. Somehow, I have no idea how (I was chatting with someone about something else) the conversation got down to a one-by-one Q & A: Have you ever been married?  Do you have kids? Are you interested in getting married/Having kids in the future? And before I knew what was going on (so that I could politely walk away) someone said, “What about you?”.

So I answered, Never been married.  Don’t have any plans to in the future.

Which, as always, required explanation (if I’d said yes, I wouldn’t have had to explain). I said that I don’t feel the need to marry, never have. But if I met a guy and loved him and wanted to be with him and HE wanted to, I would.  I have nothing against .  I just don’t see it as important, FOR ME.

And then I was asked, “What about kids?”

And I said No and that I was 40.  To which someone replied, “what does that mean?”  And I said, If I really wanted kids, I would have had them by now.

Which wasn’t the smartest comment, but I say stupid things when I’m stuck talking about things I don’t want to talk about.

So, of course, someone pointed out that 40 isn’t that old and women have kids at 40, and older, all of the time. And so I acknowledged that and said something like, Yeah, but for someone who wants kids to wait until 40 is just poor planning. Or something equally stupid.

Not that there isn’t an element in in that.  If I really wanted kids.  If having my own biologicals were important to me, I would have done it by now.  And I do think that waiting til 40 is kinda poor planning.  But I also understand why there are millions of women who do it.  Sometimes other things get in the way.

Here’s the thing, though. While there is an element of truth in that statement (and I’ve mentioned this here on the blog, before, I just don’t bring it up often) it’s not really my truth. Not my whole truth.

I found out, when I was in my early 20s, that it might be hard from me to have kids. I didn’t freak out at the time, because it seemed so far away.  Kids were something I wanted after I established myself professionally. And then, when I was 35, I had a very serious and detailed conversation with 2 of my doctors (the specialist who keeps me healthy-ish and my ob/gyn) and I found out exactly what it would take.  I can’t just “get pregnant”.  It would require medical intervention.  And it would mean me getting very sick because I’d have to stop taking all of the medicine I take daily to be healthy.

I got that info and thought about it for a while.  At the time I was in a relationship and I thought… maybe.  And then I realized that my desire to have a child wasn’t really that great. That maybe I needed to concede that my body wasn’t made for breeding .

I didn’t take it off the table until this past year, though.  I kept it as a maybe, thinking that if I fell madly/deeply in love with someone and he really wanted to have a baby with me that I’d do it.  As long as I was sure that he’d be there for me.

But now that I’m 40, well, it’s off the table. I don’t think I could physically handle it.

Wow, this was way more than I wanted to say on a Monday morning. But I hate glib half-truths.

So here’s one final thought – life is about choices. One of the biggest: make the best of what you have or spend your life being angry about what you don’t have.  I choose the former.

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29 to “More Than Just Poor Planning”

  1. @femmmefatal says:

    Everything you say here rings true for me as well accept I’m 34 and sort of at that “35 stage” but it is pretty much ‘off the table’, I don’t see how going off my meds that keep me healthy in many many ways could even be good for the relationship. That alone could (rightfully)freak out any potential dad.

    I used to want to get married, all my friends long for a giant diamond, many younger than myself. Now I am in a relationship and it doesn’t seem important. I feel I would do it if he really wanted to (as you said), or for health insurance reasons. Plus I do not want a diamond, i would rather a nice trip to Bali….

    Five years ago my friend and I looked into getting married for health insurance. Its pathetic these are things we have to consider. As for the convo with the ladies. Most people know me and I am pretty whimsical so they just lay off, when it does come up I freak people out with the ” I have health issues so I don’t know” ends that subject super quickly.:)

    • Simone Grant says:

      I’m literally laughing out loud right now because I’ve said the same thing about diamonds and nice trips MANY times (and thought the same thing about health insurance – we live in such a messed up country).

      Sigh, life is so much more complicated than, “do you want kids?” I wish people would stop pretending it was a yes/no question.

  2. Meg says:

    Everyone is dealt a different hand of cards to play with …. If your happy with how your life is and how it’s turned out, don’t apologize for it and let others make you feel bad about it at a party, they are just insecure with their own lives and jealous of the fact that you don’t have to answer to anyone, or hire a babysitter to enjoy the evening … Good for you for handling the situation with class and thank you for the post. I too have decided not to have children, and I’m 25. If I find someone to change my mind one day then maybe I’ll revisit the topic but for now, myself and my career are my main priority. Cheers!

    • Simone Grant says:

      Thanks darling. FWIW, I really believe that everyone present was asking in the “just wanting to get to know each other better” spirit. And because the traditional thing is for every woman to want marriage and kids… we women who don’t will face those extra questions. Even from well-meaning people. It’s not particularly fair. But few things in life are fair.

  3. Jolene says:

    Wow, love the last line of this. And agree with what everyone has said here.

  4. Leigh says:

    Just found your site – it really resonates with me! As women, we shouldn’t have to apologize for not going down the “normal” path…first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage…we are all on our own journeys. Thanks for documenting yours :)

    • Simone Grant says:

      I’m glad you found us. For a long time (and for some people, still) men were the ones who got to choose their journeys. We were just along for the ride. I guess it’s going to take most people time to get used to that fact.

  5. Alex says:

    When I was 22, I already knew that I wanted to be a single parent one day because I just knew I would struggle to find a ‘keeper'(doesnt everyone?) and was not willing to risk sharing children with someone who turned out to be a jerk, or worse! or God forbid he should even take them away from me somehow (I dont think its that hard for someone who ends up hating you to accomplish).
    So when I got pregnant at 26 (and my fling at the time cursed me for it), I knew the time had come and against all odds I’ve done it. And again, in a similar fashion, a few years later, too.
    two kids.
    happily unmarried.
    And I just cant find it in me to lie about it.
    Boy u should see how nervous I make them at PTA meetings :)

    • Simone Grant says:

      There’s no reason on earth to lie about it (other than to make other people “more comfortable”). You’re living the life you wanted and you’re there for your kids. What more could anyone ask for?

  6. pups4me says:

    I am 44 and can honestly say I am happy with my choice to not have children. When I got married at 28 I thought we’d have kids…that’s what most people did. But careers and life got in the way and after a few years we decided we didn’t really want kids of our own. I had friends that went through hell to try to get pregnant and I couldn’t understand it…I didn’t feel it. I didn’t/don’t have that strong of a desire to have a chiId. I like kids–nieces, nephews, my friends kids–they are all just fine, but I’m also fine with not having my own. After getting divorced 5 years ago I took the option of having my own child off the table and I do not regret it for a moment.

    • Simone Grant says:

      It’s funny (or not funny) the other week a friend (in her 30s) told me she was worried because she STILL didn’t want kids. And she was waiting for it to kick in.

      I said, it might never.

      We are told by everyone that it will kick in. That one day – BOOM – we will hear our biological clock ticking loudly. But I don’t believe it. I hear otherwise from too many women.

  7. LadyD says:

    I’m 44 – never married, and happily child-free. My mom had me when she was my age (I was the “Catholic Surprise Baby”), and the thought of being preggo RIGHT NOW just makes me shudder . . . I’ve just never wanted kids, EVER. I also deal with health issues, and will happily be on the pill (mainly b/c my cycles are so bad without it) until they tell me I can’t take it anymore, and then I’ll do some manner of HRT – to me, it’s worth feeling good, dammit! My best friend is starting to finally let go of the idea of having a kid because she’s 42, single, and has had debilitating fibromyalgia for 6 yrs. now, and for her to stop taking all her meds would nearly kill her, let alone she’d be bed-ridden throughout her whole pregnancy and would be in excruciating pain – just not worth it. This topic has become very important in so many blogs I read and social circles I’m in; I had a guy friend recently look at me with PITY because I told him I never wanted kids – UGH. He’s also early-40s, says he wants marriage/family/babies, but doesn’t seem to be doing much about finding this. Oy. I have many more female friends who don’t have and don’t want kids – EVER – and I don’t feel like such a freak anymore; it’s rather NICE to be around a group of ADULTS who don’t have to discuss anything related to parenting – vive la difference, I say!

    • Simone Grant says:

      I’m glad to hear that more people are talking about this in more places. I feel like we need to make this a public conversation. We’re not freaks. Not all women are made to be mothers (both for physical reasons and because some of us just don’t want that role). We can have fulfilling lives built around careers and friends and family that isn’t centered on our own husband/children.

      And as for the pity… They can shove it.

      • LadyD says:

        THANK YOU, Simone! I like to say to people, “There are over 6 BILLION people on this planet – I do NOT need to replicate, as one of me is ENOUGH!” 😉

  8. Kitty says:

    Waiting until over 40 to have kids is very chancy. I’ve had several friends who tried to have a second child after 40, and with all the medical intervention available, still could not. It’s heart-breaking. Sure, some women do it, but don’t count on it.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Yes, well, I did say, “for someone who wants kids to wait until 40 is just poor planning”. But that’s kinda not the point.
      No one in this discussion is actually waiting until 40 to have kids. Just the opposite. Almost everyone in this discussion is NOT having kids. Ever.

  9. AlphaFox says:

    I never had a strong maternal urge. Was in a LTR from 25 to 35 and around 33 thought “I should start THINKING about having kids”. So I gave myself until I was 35. At 35 I ended the relationship and was the happiest I had been in 10 years. Now at 42 I am still single and pretty much feel about children as I do about tattoos. If I had REALLY wanted one, I would have done it by now. It took me a few years to make peace with my decision but I am over the hurdle and am cool with looking at the rest of my life as being a fab aunt to my niece and doing whatever the hell I want to do with the rest of the time. When dating I get irritated by guys who are mid to late 40’s who check off “will want to have children someday” on their dating profile. I was dating someone last summer who was 46 and said he wanted to have kids “at some point” and I blurted out “when??? – Dude, you are nearing 50!” So I guess I hate the fact that women are forced to make those decisions earlier than men. But I know i made the right decision for me.

    • Simone Grant says:

      It IS rather annoying that men can drag out the decision making a lot longer than we can. I try to stay away from men who say they are certain they want kids (and yep, there are so many 50 yr old guys who say they are certain they want kids – what the hell are they waiting for?). It’s just an extra complication and dating is already so damn complicated.

    • LadyD says:

      My reply to these 40-something (or older) tools is: So, on some RANDOM Tuesday, at 3:37pm, you’ll stand up from your desk, arms akimbo, and say to no one in particular, ‘YES!! I’ve DECIDED TODAY! I want CHILDREN!’ *SIGH* These boneheads just DON’T GET IT – Having kids is not some friggin’ Hallmark card vignette, wherein he and the “son” (beget the son and heir, ‘yanno) play catch in the backyard, like some Norman Rockwell painting . . . friggin’ TOOLS. Gives me a major case of the sads.

  10. Black Iris says:

    @AlphaFox – I think men who think they can have kids after 50 are deluding themselves a little. It’s physically possible, but there are a lot of downsides, too.

    1. Babymaking problems – Men are less fertile as they age. Older men are more likely to have children with autism or schizophrenia, even if their wives are young. That’s all we’ve found so far, but I bet science will find more physical advantages to young sperm eventually.

    2. Childrearing problems – Kids take an enormous amount of energy and work. You have to stay up all night with them. Your body is just not as energetic as it was after 50. Plus you might die before they’re grown.

    3. Mate-finding problems – Women in our society prefer to marry men who are close to their own age (about 4-6 years older than them). Men will refuse to date older women and run around after younger women, but the younger women aren’t always thrilled about that. A guy who is rich and famous doesn’t have to worry about this, but most men are going to be average. Most guys aren’t going to be able to get young trophy wives to have their babies. Men who want younger women have to bring something to the table and they may have to compromise on what they can get in a wife.

  11. Black Iris says:

    I think you’re right, most women who really want to have children will have done it by the time they’re 40. It is good planning to do that.

  12. Aplus says:

    I guess it’s also every one to there own…

  13. Lynne Elliott says:

    Im now 56. When I was 38 I met a man and one of the first things I said was that I didnt think I could have kids and I didnt want any. I was lucky because he didnt want them either.
    We broke up a few years ago and now has been “adopted” by his new lady’s Italian family.

  14. Naomi says:

    I would like to tell you about my situation. I am 30, I have always wanted children and a family.
    Last year as a single desperate (bit paranoid) woman, I decided to take things into my own hands… I thought I better plan for the future, just incase i dont meet a man till my late 30’s and its too late to have kids.
    I went to a fertility clinic, to donate my eggs -in exchange for having 10 frozen for the future.
    Ironicly, I was not allowed to join the donation program, as after testing my eggs/hormones etc, they discovered I have low fertility.
    This initially broke my heart.. leading to a mini nervous breakdown.
    A year later, I am living with a wonderful boyfriend, in love and very happy.
    If I ever decide to have children, I am going to take-the-bull-by-the-horns and go for it, give it my best chance. I like a challenge & I really love the idea of overcoming the odd’s to have a baby.

    You have to take what you have & make the best of it.

  15. Serria Says….
    Simone…I like you. But I actually fall into that weird group of a person planning to have kids at 40. My husband and I are actually planning that, I’m not single. We have about 5 years and we are the same age. We are both self employed. I managed businesses and he is in the music industry. We LOVE our lives and love being married but we don’t want any sticky, fast moving, yelling at the top of their lungs at Sushi Roku, KIDS. Not now! But we do want them…later. So we planned to have them. As far as age is concerned, I’m in LA and we are generally pretty healthy here. Prior to 40 I will start with natural fertility supplements and all that jazz. If it doesn’t work, we will hit drugs and possibly adopt. I like older parents versus young ones! Usually young parents are poor, not really smart about life, and honestly I blame alot of the world crime and education problems on young parents. But it might be because I’m from Chicago. Who knows. I wish more people waited until 30s and 40s to have children.

  16. Terry says:

    Never wanted a kid but at 53 became a dad. Yes men can wait- but I wasn’t waiting. I was living my life as it was dealt to me. And I’ve worked hard and enjoyed life and just got lucky. You play life as it comes and sometimes it works better or worse – but all I knew is every time I forced a relationship for some “ideal” I ended in a pile of shit.
    Those parties sound like a bunch of girls playing dolls. Life isn’t Ken and Barbie – which is good because they don’t have genitals- but I digress.

  17. Brandy says:

    I like your ending note about making choices, but I am often frustrated by the fact that I need to. I’m 28 and love the freedom that I have as a single woman with a job that takes me all over the world. I like dating around and living in the moment, but I’ll be damned if my body isn’t always sending signals that it’s time to reproduce. It’s the way that things are though. My choice is to continue to go with what feels right for me. If I don’t ever have kids, I hope I have the serenity to just accept it and never look back as well. In the meantime, I’m still trying to have my cake and eat it too!
    Brandy recently posted..Business and PleasureMy Profile

  18. Simone you’ve shared a very casual conversation that after reading through your comments DOES seem to be a common topic!

    I’ll share this post with my editorial team and see if we can do some research of our own. Thanks!

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