Motherhood, if I ever enter it, is not going to happen the way I envisioned it would happen a number of years ago.Â Though I canâ€™t say that Iâ€™ve always wanted marriageâ€”I have thought about it often, usually approaching it with caution and careful analysis that has, at times, been misconstrued as disdain for the institutionâ€”I have always pictured many years of enjoying my husband before adding other people to the mix.
Children, that is.Â Getting used to sharing space for the rest of your life with one person is challenging enough, I thought.Â Why not work on that, and hopefully enjoy it, before becoming parents?Â It cuts down on risk; if you find you donâ€™t enjoy each other as much as you thought you would, you havenâ€™t added people to the possessions youâ€™re bound to fight over in a divorce.Â And you may decide life is enjoyable enough with just the two of you.
Thatâ€™s not the way the world is trending these days, though.Â The number of unmarried moms is going up, and as people realize how expensive children are and as the economy continues to hobble along on incredibly small gains that are no match for big losses, the number of older moms is increasing, too.
My vision, of course, also required me to marry while in my 20s.Â I would still have had my first child in my 30s, but it would have been before the foreboding, â€œAdvanced Maternal Age,â€ set in.Â Advanced mternal age is when doctors start to worry that pregnancy will be riskier and when the chance of birth defects goes up.Â And as a friend and doctor pointed out to me in a moment that was meant to be funny but that hit each of us with a shock once we did the math, advanced maternal age starts at 35.Â So, even if I get married tomorrow, my husband and I had better get used to each other real quick.
Concern about age-complicated pregnancy isnâ€™t the only thing that diminishes my chances of my perfect vision becoming my reality.Â Itâ€™s also the same statistic about unwed motherhood being on the rise.Â The older I get, the fewer childless people I know, and I know more unwed fathers than I do unwed mothers.Â Iâ€™m honest enough to admit that I want no part in someone elseâ€™s unwed fatherhood, whether itâ€™s because he was never married or because heâ€™s divorced. Â I have made exceptions for older men whose kids are already grown.Â (Donâ€™t ask.)Â But would I back off from my deal-breaker if that were the only thing about the man that I didnâ€™t like?
Hmm.Â One day, I may be old enough, or perhaps in love enough, to find out.