On this Mother’s Day weekend, and with a teenage daughter of my own, there’s something I want to canvass opinions on. What’s the latest time in a woman’s life that she should have kids?
The reason I ask is that, as peri-menopause creeps up on me, I find I haven’t got the energy or the patience to manage our mutual hormonal dysfunctions. I anger easily, and often wonder about the decision I made to nurture my career like a mother-hen until it was old enough to walk. Did I leave child-bearing too late?
To my dismay, I’ve started thinking that perhaps 34 wasn’t the time to give birth. It puts the teenage years smack-bang in the middle of a woman’s least tolerant period of her life. Without solid levels of oestrogen to smooth things over, there’s no “love-in” going on in my brain. Our kids deserve to enjoy their rotten, rebellious, hormonal teenager years without competing with a rotten, rebellious, hormonal mother like myself.
A staunch feminist, growing up with Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer as my role models, I’ve always urged young girls to passionately embrace a career. Besides, very few of us have the luxury of single income families nowadays. But many of us dearly want children too, and there’s never a right time to leave a career to have kids. It’s always damaging to take those years off. We do fall behind our peers, no matter what PR spin we put on it.
Given this cold, hard fact, perhaps we might just as well leave work younger. And is there a time when it’s simply too late to have kids?
Mystics consider the 40s and 50s to be the time of the Magi, the Wise Woman. The time of reaping what we’d planted, the golden autumn of life. Many of us have a deep longing to be “selfic” (as in self-centric rather than “selfish”) before it’s too late. Instead, we’re increasingly finding ourselves laden with young children, mortgages, sick or ageing parents, relationship “ishoos” and our patience drying up with the hormones. Biologically, our brains aren’t built to be tilling the soil in our reaping years.
I watched a documentary on photographer Annie Leibovitz, 61, with three little ones around her feet during a Vogue cover shoot; the eldest was born when she was 51. She seemed content and fulfilled; the kids did, too. What’s the secret? A good nanny? A good regime of HRT? Maybe hormone replacement is the answer to this moral dilemma. Or should women simply go back to having bubs by 29? I need your opinions.
PLEASE COMMENT BELOW