Life cycle, perhaps interrupted

One of the bad things about being in a relationship is age. Consciously or otherwise, we allow it to determine for us what stage of a relationship we should be at. At age 12, we are supposed to be much too young to have even heard the word. At age 15, we are told that we are not old enough to understand what the word really means, let alone experiment with it. At age 20, we are thought to have far more important things to do and accomplish than add one more name to our list of conquests. At age 26, we (especially the women) are warned that time’s a-tickin’ and we should start thinking about settling down before the eggs are taken off the shelf.

I will stop here, because at age 26, I will also be told that I am supposed to know no better.

Of late, when people hear that I am in a serious relationship, the question they like to ask next is: “So when are you getting married?” My reply depends on whom I am talking to — acquaintances get the noncommittal shrug, friends get a slightly more privileged “I don’t know” or “I haven’t thought about it”, and close friends get as much of the truth as they can. But the general response from those who absolutely must know or quash their curiosity is “But… don’t you want any children?” My answer is usually met by surprise, bewilderment or sometimes outright dismay: “Well… I guess… but I don’t have to. I can always adopt.”

I have nothing (much) against children — except those who resemble Jake from Two and a Half Men and who feel the need to scream, cry and vomit in full view of the public (hello, Madam Kwan’s KLCC!) — and have very occasionally considered taking my eggs (and age) a little more seriously. But, in an attempt to be as pragmatic as my age (there’s that word again!) — and perhaps society — will allow, I also have to embrace the very real possibility that I may never have children of my own. The beauty of this acceptance is that, after I told myself I may never anyone to will my bags and jewelry to and did not end up leaping out the window, I realized I could survive being childless, which may have made me a slightly rarer commodity to men whose biggest fear is the pressure of having to get married and reproduce.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t want to be too old when I try to have children. Not only will I not be in a position to support anyone but myself for a very long time, but I don’t want to be struggling at age 60 to put my children through college (when, let’s face it, I could be sitting at a mahjong table). Also, my scary age for childbearing is 30, which I have resolutely stood by ever since I watched my best friend back in Buffalo suffer pre-eclampsia at the age of 29 and my godson spend his first two weeks of life in intensive care because he was born several weeks early. It was nobody’s fault, but having seen for myself and knowing what I know now about the risks and dangers (and there is so much more than just pre-eclampsia that we may not know about) that come with having babies past a certain age, I could never risk putting my own baby through all that, or worse, rendering it motherless.

As for the adoption part, I have no doubt in my mind that I would consider it when the time comes. With so many orphaned children in the world, every case in which one (or even more) of them is accepted by a family or single parent is counted as a blessing, and dear knows this world could use as many blessings as it can get. I sincerely believe it is every bit as possible to love an adopted child and a biological child the same way, because at the end of the day, they are all children, untainted by sin and only trying to grow up among people who love them.

Who knows, two years down the road, I may actually have a change of heart and decide I simply must have a child to validate my existence, but for now, I’m perfectly happy owning a puppy — or a rabbit — and buying cute things for my friends’ children. Besides, sometimes it’s really not about what others think you should and shouldn’t do or what you think is the right, expected and accepted way of life, but about what will be good for yourself and the people around you who matter the most.

I should probably also tell you right now that before you even think of the nastiest name to call me for  not having a maternal bone in my body and having the cheek to put all this down in writing, you may want to go here.

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