In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”
The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.
By 30, you should know…
17. How you feel about having kids.
They sure aren’t making the second half of The List easy, huh? No softballs in sight, where I can say “Well, of course I know that!”
Stylist and entrepreneur Rachel Zoe writes this week’s reflection, providing her perspective as someone who became a first-time mom at age 38. She and her husband, Rodger, had been together for 20 years — always knowing they wanted kids, but never necessarily slowing down to do anything about it.
She was, admittedly, quite lucky to become pregnant on their first try. And despite having such luck, Zoe urges women who know they want to have kids: “Don’t wait! I missed the window of being a young mom, and I’m super envious of my friends who had kids earlier than I did, because they can take their time and choose to have another child (or several!) if they want.”
This is where Zoe lost me a little bit. She’s making two assumptions here — first, that women who know they want children have the means, e.g., the partner and finances, in order to do so. And second, that they’ll be able to have as many children as they desire. While that sounds like a lovely landscape to live in, it just isn’t reality.
Plenty of women wish to have children, but want to be married and have a house before that. Or have prioritized their career, much like Zoe did, and want to be on more secure financial footing before bringing children into the world. Others still have fertility issues, complications and a whole host of other reasons why they’re not able to just close their eyes and wish for a child to appear, no problem.
Stepping off my proverbial soapbox, I also struggled to make sense of Zoe’s final point. She concludes by saying “there are many paths to motherhood… adopting, finding a surrogate… or being the best aunt ever. The point is that the path is in your hands.”
She’s urged us to not wait, but shouldn’t we be a bit more careful with such life-changing decisions? Perhaps this is the 29-year-old single girl in me shouting, but I don’t take the topic of motherhood lightly. Although I’m someone who takes forever to commit to a rug, I do believe bringing life into the world is not something to be rushed. There are many paths, but that doesn’t mean you have to sprint down any one of them before 30.
I can say with near certainty that my perspective on this would be markedly different if I were a woman who knew her own stance on motherhood. I’m not convinced I want children, but I don’t want biology or anything else keeping me from that option. I’ve thought about what paths I may take in the future, but I’m not rushing toward any of them when I know I’m not ready to be responsible for another life at this stage of my own.
For now, I’ll stick to being the best aunt ever. It’s fulfilling enough without having society shouting in my ear about what I should do. As I don’t have a 20-year partner to mull this over with, I think my current decision is just fine. And if I’m feeling particularly stumped, there’s a wikiHow article for that. Bonus: This blog post by Gloria Bowman eloquently emphasizes the plight of women without children. Please enjoy.