Singles and the Biological Clock – Part 1
- Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Even with all these thoughts, I still find it hard to imagine the hormones and biological urges women have. I recently heard two women in their late thirties talking about contingency plans if they don’t get married soon. They both said they’ll probably opt for artificial insemination. Other single women decide to adopt. But I’ve never even considered adoption on my own if I don’t marry. So, that’s my biggest sign that a woman’s drive to be a mom is far greater than I can imagine. It seems like single guys instead get their pseudo-parental sense of protection, nurturing, and adventure by being an uncle, a tee-ball coach, or a youth-group counselor.
So yes, this is different than what women experience. But, I think we men can also play up or overestimate a woman’s longing for kids. I’ve heard too many guys complain that Christian women quickly “latch” on after one date because they can hear that steady tick-tock-tick. I don’t think that’s generally true. In fact, I think it’s funny. Guys typically don’t get enough consideration for wanting to be parents, and women may get too much. That’s why we need to just let members of the opposite sex – like sports fan/family man Paul – surprise us from time to time.
Camerin: It seems ironic, or perhaps a sign of just how much things have changed in our postmodern age, that while men are now being affected by the biological clock (or are finally starting to talk about it), women are seemingly less and less affected. Most of the single women I know fall into two camps: those who want to be a mom yesterday and those who have a vague notion of wanting to be a mom … someday. And of the women I’ve spoken with about this, the majority seems to fall in the latter group.
Why? Well, that’s a great question. I have a feeling the answer, as with many things associated with the modern dating scene, is multilayered and complex. I have a few theories, though, as one who also falls into this Waning Maternal Urge set. There are times I suspect this lack of urgent maternal desire is a gift from God, as there’s not a lot I can do about such an urge in my current life stage (except adopting, of course, which is a huge undertaking as a single person). I also feel so busy trying to do everything in a household, from paying bills and fixing leaky faucets to cooking dinner and decorating the walls, by myself that even thinking about caring for another human being, especially a “dependent,” makes me break into a cold sweat (though I know single parents miraculously perform this feat every day).
I also wonder if at times it’s a defense mechanism to not desire mom-hood so strongly. Feeling out of the wifehood loop can be painful enough; adding the reality of being out of the mom-hood loop could possibly push me over the edge emotionally – so I just don’t allow myself to feel that. Also, as women, so many other doors have opened for us over the past generation or two – from career to travel to ministry opportunities – that perhaps the longstanding door of becoming a mom holds less enticement. Mostly, however, I think motherhood just feels so “other” that it’s tough to picture, let alone yearn for, this life stage. Most of the things that make singleness great – freedom to travel, supreme control of everything from our Daytimer to the remote, time to invest in a wide array of friends, ministry pursuits, and career opportunities – would be seriously impaired if not erased if we became a mom.
That’s not to say that those of us with the Waning Maternal Urge don’t love kids and want them someday. I became an aunt last year and love my little nephew to pieces. As I write this I’m planning to fly to see him (and his parents and grandparents, of course!) next weekend, and I can hardly wait to lay eyes and hugs and countless kisses on the little guy. Often when I spy cute kids or hang out with my friends’ offspring, I think of a line from "Mad About You" when the main characters, Paul and Jamie, were at the pre-parenting stage. Once when they were visiting some relatives, Jamie told Paul, “Your niece is so cute it makes my uterus hurt.” There are days I so get that, when I long for a little person to love on, care for, tuck into bed, and teach about everything from Jesus to shopping.
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