"You are running out of time!" typed a long-lost recently-found schoolmate from childhood upon knowing that I was not married yet. I wanted to flaunt my long list of achievements but she kept ticking and toc-king. I told her I have a great career in public relations, she was not interested; I said I am sharing my working experience with my students, she said they were not my kids; I explained how companies use me to enhance the skills of their employees, she wondered why I did not want children; I sent her my blogs to read everything I ever wrote and published, she said she would read them when her kids were sleeping; I told her I am doing a TV show on relationships, she ordered me to get real! She sounded so content being married with two kids; it was a relief to have caught the bus rather than happiness that I sensed in the tone of her words. As if she only came online to disturb my peace, she wished me luck and left the chat. Once again I felt like the little girl I once was, trying to show off my handmade Kleenex flowers when no one was really interested!
The world seemed to conspire against me when I got a call from my mom a few minutes later. After the usual hellos, in her adorable enthusiastic tone, my mom shared with me a brilliant idea; I am to find a man with good genes, get married, get pregnant, and get divorced right away. I laughed my heart out. I wished I could hug her. She thought I was mocking her with my laughter and she was ever so intent on making her point. She flashed the biological clock pepper spray in my face as she quoted a doctor on TV: "As women age, the quality and quantity of their eggs decline; thus, affecting fertilization success, embryo quality, and pregnancy rate. The rate of decline varies from one woman the other, but overall, fertility begins to decline slowly in a woman's 30s, with the greatest decline happening after the age of 35." I was no longer laughing as I felt trapped between a huge rugged rock and a very hard place; part of me acknowledged what my mom said yet another part insisted on doing it the right way. I want a child with the right man; I never wanted any of the men who came my way to be the father of any baby I gave birth to.
The other day I joined a group of friends, and their friends, for lunch in the town's hottest Italian restaurant. My best friend literally begged me to keep my views to myself and asked me not to turn the outing into a futile debate. I was a bit insulted but I gave her my promise. Finding my cute resemblance in my squeaky wooden chair, I sat, smiled, nodded, and managed a giggle when needed. I was about to dive into my bowl of soup, when one of the single guys on the table proudly stated that men were privileged with their ability to "impregnate" a woman regardless of their age. Thinking of my friend, instead of jumping at his throat, I decided to see what the other guys and girls on the table had to say. The married women used the word "compromise" many times – especially when looking towards their husbands. The married men used the word "favor" at lot – especially when looking towards their wives. The single girls were drowning in helplessness, the single guys were choking on their private jokes, and my friend was pressing my hand when she should have gagged mouth.
I threw the first dart at the guy who was bragging about his ability to have kids at any age as I faced him with the sad truth; yes, he could have a kid at the age of 45 but he will never give him the fun that a 25 year old young dad can give him. He will feel old, look old, act old, and be old. The second dart targeted married men; I asked each of the wives to make a wish – 5 traits that they would like to be passed on from their husband to their son or daughter. After the initial humming, came a silence, some gap fillers, and then a few incoherent words that just reflected how these women are not convinced of the men they chose. The men looked offended but that was no excuse for me to spare them; it was their turn to tell me the 5 qualities that they wished the wives had said. Their masculine faces looked dignified and proud as they waved the flags of responsibility, generosity, sensibility, and the like. I watched as the male and female eyes met; the men threatened and the women recoiled – The men looked victorious, the women looked revolted, and I could not touch my soup.
The single 33, 34, 36, and 40 year old girls began telling their tales of rejection that basically rotated on the fact that he, or his mother, thought they were too old to have kids. They talked about the inquisitive eyes, questioning looks, the muttering, the murmuring, the whispering, and the curled lips that stalk them in weddings, parties, gatherings, and outings. Society and family deny them the right to choose and to refuse because they are "too old". They struggle with their self-esteem and self-fulfillment, and are torn apart between their hormones, nesting phases, and settling down urges – we ladies suffer! I barged in again lending my fellow single females a supporting hand. I played my favorite Libra game; single and happy or married and miserable? Single gal or single mom? No man or wrong man? No kids or wrong kids? I hit a bull's eye when I mentioned the possibility of adoption; if your maternal instinct is nagging non stop and Mr. Right took a wrong turn on his way to you, nonetheless, you can still be a mother. Options start from nephews and nieces, cats and dogs, to sponsored orphans and live in orphans. Motherhood is not about getting pregnant and giving birth; motherhood is all about nurturing and caring – be it a warm hug, a sound advice, a shoulder to cry on, or a comforting smile.
Audrey Hepburn shared with women her age-defying beauty tips saying "For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find them at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives and the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years." Having spoken my mind, the single girls were silent and pensive, and the single guys were silent and attentive – I rested my case and my soup was cold.
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