The Illusion of ‘Choice’..

Large planet, small planet
     This weekend the press produced yet another series of articles about women leaving it too late to have children.  Apparently the Chief Medical Officer is worried that women are postponing having children or choosing not to have any at all.  I feel qualified to comment as I had children at 31, 33 and 43.  I didn’t ‘choose’ when to have any of them, they arrived with very little input from me. I only know of two friends who formally announced that they were ‘trying’ and then got pregnant in less than a year.  ‘Choosing’ when to have children is an illusion – like choosing your preferred state school 4 years later.  Usually there is no choice as such, just a set of planets in erratic orbits suddenly synchronising and producing their very own Big Bang.
       In my Twenties I announced that I didn’t want children..…just as well as I was drunk for the best part of that decade and getting myself home at the end of the evening seemed like a major achievement.  Son 1 was created on the night of my boyfriend’s 30th birthday when a few too many bottles of Oyster Bay entered our orbit at the wrong time.  We didn’t ‘choose’, we just momentarily forgot that we had chosen not to!
       Son 2 proudly describes himself as our family’s ‘most planned’.  I guess you could say that.  We did actually discuss having a second child if that constitutes planning.  Did we choose to have just 17 months between them though?  No of course not, that would be madness (!?)
Ten years later, we emptied the house of all baby equipment and toys and prepared for our babies to morph into hormonal teenagers, only to hit by the meteor of yet another fertilised egg.  I was 43, according to all the statistics I couldn’t get pregnant even if I had been trying.
       I adore my kids and although the timing was never great, I know how lucky I am to have had my three Amazing Accidents. Too many friends have never had all their planets line up.
What are the chances of having financial security, a roof over your head, a solid partner and the inclination just at the time your body is going to let you have a baby.  The point is that women generally don’t ‘postpone’ or ‘choose’ not to have kids and they certainly don’t just forget (let’s face it they have probably been talking about having/not having babies for their whole adult life).
       Whether you are in your 20s, 30s or 40s you can only live the life that is in front of you, ignore the press and just try and enjoy the ride.

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