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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tick Tock - Time to Close Up Shop

With less than a month to go before the big 4-0 I’ve been waiting with anticipation for some sort of existential (or perhaps even more real) crisis to wash over me. After all, the milestone of turning 40 does have some pretty heavy baggage that comes with it. In 26 days I’ll be officially over the hill, past my prime, closer to being an old hag than I am to my fabulous teenage years roaming the halls of Mamaroneck High School.

And let’s face it, the only thing that is stopping me from being one of those sad women in an urban apartment, all alone and with too many cats (I already had two in my 20s, which usually doesn’t bode well for the future), is that five years ago I made the controversial, difficult, and (looking back) perhaps even bold decision to go it alone and procreate.

And now I have Jaden and Rowan, turning 4 in 17 days. Some might still call me a woman “alone” (since I have no partner), but instead of heading towards hagdom, I’m enjoying the life of an international soccer mom (yes it is possible to be a soccer mom even in Tanzania.) chaperoning the kids to play-dates and swim lessons, and going on a weekly outing to the noisy and annoying “kids” restaurant with a play area, face painting, and really mediocre food, just because they love it so much.

During the past year I’ve been having that internal (infernal?) conversation that many women who’ve gone before me have had. Am I going to stop at two? Although I know that there are magical hormonal changes going on inside of me, I am fool enough to believe that the reproductive bits and pieces are still in working order and at 39 years and 339 days I likely have some small bit of fertility left, a few eggs in good condition, a uterus that still does it’s monthly duty, enough estrogen and progesterone to make the magic happen perhaps just one more time…

Luckily, I still have several vials of Jaden and Rowan’s donor sitting in cold storage back in Washington, DC. And I do think that they are just the neatest kids – so why wouldn’t I want some more just like them? Hell, I live overseas where there is an infinite supply of affordable human help to do just about anything you can possibly imagine. If I wanted I could have day nurses, night nurses, wet nurses, midwives, housekeepers, etc. I could have another kid under the best of circumstances you could ever find a single gal in. It would be so easy compared to the last time. And I would have a cuddly widdle baby to love, and he/she would love me, and we would live happily ever after…

Whoosh. This is the point in the movie where the girl wakes up in her own bed, startled. Clearly the last few minutes of magical fantasy have been a dream.

Back in the real world college costs $40,000/year per kid (unless I manage to finagle a job with the UN, which pays for college), preschool even runs $4,000/year per kid in Tanzania, and all of a sudden I’m remembering how much I struggled the first two years with Jaden and Rowan. Now that I think about it, I was pretty miserable during my pregnancy, too. And OMG, what if I got pregnant with twins again? Four year olds are awesome. Four kids, not so much. Besides, eventually I’ll move back to the US where being a single mother by choice of three or more kids would really make me freaky.

Recently a friend told me that 50 is the new 40. I suppose that may be true for guys, but for us gals we have this ticking biological clock which gets louder and louder until about 42 when the chances of being able to have a biological child of our own pretty much ends abruptly. (Don’t be fooled into complacency by all those women having children older than 43, 95% of them are using donor eggs.) I look around me at my friends who want to, but haven’t taken the reproductive plunge yet, and I feel their pain. I want to stand on my soapbox and tell them that they, too, can go it alone. They don’t have to wait for a partner to produce. Better yet, they can join me overseas and find heaven on earth for the single mom.

Five years ago I knew that and that and made the decision to not take a chance in the fertility sweepstakes and go it alone. Lots of people thought I was nuts. When I finally got pregnant I thought I was nuts, too. But I’ve decided that my 40th birthday is my payout for all the stress and second guessing. I’m actually looking forward to it. I plan to be 40 and fabulous and I’m currently planning a big blow out party in a fun new restaurant featuring Jamaican food (lobster patties, my favorite), 80s music, and the many wonderful friends I’ve met since I moved to Tanzania, and some who even came here with me. Jaden and Rowan will help me celebrate my birthday, but the party is for adults only because nurturing the un-mom part of Hally remains an important part of maintaining my identity – of being 40 and fabulous both with kids and without.

This morning I woke up with a whoosh and a start and sat up straight in bed. I was literally dreaming about clocks, and the ticking was so loud that I couldn’t hear myself think anymore. My subconscious was reminding me that it is time to make a decision – take the plunge or empty the pool.

So with 40 looming, and parenthood being a lovely extension of the real Hally but not the entirety of Hally, I am taking the executive decision to shut off my biological clock. I’m removing the batteries. The ticking has stopped.

There will be no third kid. Time’s up.
The heros of my 40th birthday.


Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

And such lovely little heroes they are.

Happy 40th to you. May this year, and every year that follows, bring you more joy, love and laughter than the year before.

5:14 AM  
Blogger suburban dyke said...

I like your rumination about procreating again. We agonozied when the kids were 2 and we were 42. Two kids are good. Jaden and Rowan are beautiful.

As for being 40: kid, it only gets better. Once you get over the repoduction loss, you'll see. You are more sure than ever. More forgiving and wiser, yes wiser. Not overnight. Just gradually.

Happy New Year and happy new year.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy almost birthday, Hally!

So glad that you're having the time to make these thoughtful decisions... Me, just sliding by on the seat of my pants...

So, I guess that this would be the right time to tell you, our number 4 is scheduled to arrive February 25.

Maybe we should have put more thought into this?!?!?

Would love to catch up soon.

With love,
Tamar and family

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Hally!

Its Lisa Klotzkin here (your fellow roamer of MHS halls), having found this awesome blog of yours through Liz. I love your writing, am delighted to hear about your life and wish you a very, very happy birthday with loads more to come.

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Hally!

Another relic from MHS here, Lysa Schwartz, and a happy belated birthday to you! It's wonderful that you could make such a wise decision, albeit hard. Tanzania is a beautiful place, wish I was there!

7:54 PM  
Anonymous No Minivan, Just Moxie said...

Happy Birthday Chiquita.
Mmmmm... lobster patties!

6:29 AM  

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