Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ My Biological Clock is Ticking

Dear Dr V ~

I’m 31 years old, and all of a sudden I feel like my biological clock is ticking. I’ve been single for a year, with no real relationship prospects on the horizon. While I’m OK with that, I am concerned about the possibility of me having kids. My career is still uncertain, as I said my love life is kind of dormant, but I feel like kids would be something certain I could count on. And I think I’d be an awesome Mom. I find myself daydreaming about what it’d be like to be a Mom. I’m even considering alternatives to the traditional way to start a family, like getting a sperm donor or even adoption, what do you think?


Dear Elizabeth,

What do I think? I think you need to go easier on yourself and relax. Without a doubt being a parent and raising kids is one of the greatest boons of life on this planet, but it can also be stressful and exhausting.  It sounds like you are in a period of major transition in your life, personally, professionally, and yes, biologically. We’ll get to the first two in a moment, but I would like to say that as far as your “biological clock goes,” it’s nowhere near ticked out. While it is true getting pregnant becomes more of a challenge as a woman gets older, you probably still have several years before that should become a major concern, if it ever even becomes one. That is unless you’re smoking, drinking heavily, doing drugs, truly overweight (a doctor’s definition of overweight, not the media’s) or otherwise not taking care of yourself (I hope you’ll keep yourself healthy regardless of what happens).

As you said, you’re single and currently unsure what path lies ahead for you in your professional life. As you are still young (despite what our youth-obsessed culture might have you believe), that’s a perfectly reasonable place to be in. However, while this place of uncertainty may work well for one thrity-something woman, I do not see it working well for a thirty-something single mommy. That is by no means a dig at devoted single-moms (there is not enough that can be said about how hard they work) but I do think it would be incredibly ill advised to introduce a child into such an unpredictable atmosphere if it could be avoided. I believe if you pursued sperm donation, adoption or what have you, the end result would be the exact opposite of what you now seek. Your life would be even more chaotic and stressful, now with the added immense burden of being responsible for the life of another person; a person who, as cute and cuddly as they may be, will also be dependent on you for every aspect of their existence. There will be no breaks, no days off. And you are not allowed to lose your cool in front of them. Still sound like the portal to stability and serenity?

Now of course I’m not saying parenthood is an infernal torment or that you should give up on your pursuit of motherhood. However, it might be worth taking a closer look at why you are now feeling these maternal pangs.

I think perhaps you may have created a mythological ideal in your head that becoming a mother will somehow make you stable. Could it be that you see your own mother (or mothers in general) as figures of stability and strength and perhaps want what they have: Stability? I say this not to discredit the stirrings of your maternal instincts, but rather to suggest that it could be that other things lurking in your emotional ocean are causing more of an upwelling of this want for a baby than you would have felt were they not there.

What I suggest is not to give up on your pursuit of grounded strength (I wouldn’t be much of a therapist if I didn’t encourage people to pursue that in their lives), but rather to adjust your perceived path to the Promised Land, as it were. Perhaps you could direct these nascent nurturing instincts you’ve been feeling inwards, towards yourself. It may be that the solution you are looking outside of yourself for, actually lies within. You mentioned your career isn’t doing much. Could it be that’s because you’re in the wrong career? Are you excited and passionate about what you’re pursuing in your professional life, or simply paying the bills? For many of us just paying the bills would be a luxury, and I’m certainly not advocating for financial irresponsibility. However, as you are blessed to be responsible to nobody but yourself at the moment (an advantage of being a non-parent) you can elect to take calculated risks at this time, such as changing jobs or really taking some time for self-discovery. Risks that, were you responsible for a child, would of course be out of the question.

In other words, take advantage of the fact that you’re on your own right now. You are beholden to none but yourself, you’re young, and you’re smart. Give yourself some time to figure out just exactly what it is you want from life and who you are before making that commitment of all commitments: motherhood. I can tell you this, if you do need to make any major changes in the course of your life, it’s a lot easier when you’re the only one in the boat than when there’s a little passenger riding along with you.

With Love and Light,
Dr. V

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