Mostly what I feel as a thirty-four-year-old single woman is a sincere hope that motherhood will be an option for me someday. That I’ll get a chance at one of the most amazing of women’s unique abilities: birthing new life. That there’s a father-of-my-children in my future. That he’ll show up before all my eggs go kaput. I’ve watched my sister and others go through infertility, so I know there are no guarantees at any age. And an OB/GYN friend of mine assures me that due to medical advances and the miracle that is our bodies, by and large, women even well into their forties needn’t worry too much about fertility issues. But a niggling worry persists. Mostly in that very American part of me that sees biological motherhood as some sort of inalienable right and that will be altogether indignant (and grief stricken) if I’m denied what seems to come so easily to others, even unsuspecting teenagers in backseats of cars.

I read a chick-lit novel several years ago called Dating Big Bird in which the main character, a still-single woman, described the ticking biological clock not as sand in an hourglass (which can simply be turned over when it’s run out) but as a big gumball machine with a limited number of gumballs slipping out one by one. Once they’re gone, that’s it. No more eggs. No more chance for a baby. Sometimes, when I spy a cute kid, or watch a meaningful mother-child moment, or just for no foreseeable reason whatsoever, the maternal pang hits and I feel like a grubby, penniless kid with my nose pressed against the glass of that gumball machine, eyeing the slowly disappearing treats, hoping for the needed “currency” before they’re all gone.

So what does all this have to do with dating? Well, if a date- potential happens to catch me on one of those gumball-machine days, I can view him with everything from contempt – as in “You’re late! Your bad timing is why I’ll never be able to become a mom!” – to desperation – “Please share your life, and sperm, with me!” Dating, as you’ve gathered by this point in the book, is complicated enough without our whacked-out hormones or Baby Lust factoring into the equation. I don’t want my waning egg count to speed up a dating relationship. And I want to truly consider whether a guy would make a good father, not just whether or not he’s physically capable of making me a mom. I also sometimes fear that Paternal Urge-y guys will view my age as a liability and will opt for a younger woman, which just makes me want to scream.

More often than not, however, a date-potential will catch me on my more numerous Waning Maternal Urge days. And this new trend for single women can alarm or confuse guys. A friend of mine almost suffered a breakup with her boyfriend of many months when he discovered she wasn’t dying to become a mom. She, like many modern single women, had that “someday it’ll probably be nice to be somebody’s mother” feeling. In his mind, this translated into no interest in mom-hood, and that worried him, since he really wanted to be a dad. It took a good deal of conversation, as with many things when it comes to male-female communication, to help them realize they’re basically on the same track.

Used by permission of Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright © 2006.  All rights to this material are reserved.  Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.

Camerin Courtney is managing editor of Today's Christian Woman magazine, author of
Table for One, and a columnist for

Todd Hertz is an associate editor for
Ignite Your Faith Magazine, formerly Campus Life.  He's a frequent contributor to and

**This excerpt first posted on February 8, 2006