Sunday 22 October 2017

'Your 20s might be the prime time to have a baby - but good luck finding Mr Right at that stage of life'

Biologically, we're best-placed to have children by the age of 25. It makes sense
Biologically, we're best-placed to have children by the age of 25. It makes sense
"Waiting" increases the risk of a chromosomal disorder, and we Irish women ought to get our skates on, because we are amongst the oldest first-time mothers in Europe

Barbara McCarthy

I was reading with great interest yet another article containing "new evidence" suggesting that women should start having children in their 20s.

"Waiting" increases the risk of a chromosomal disorder, and we Irish women ought to get our skates on, because we are amongst the oldest first-time mothers in Europe.

I "waited" to have my baby until just before my 40th birthday, thereby making me a geriatric mother. Like lots of other Irish mothers and most of my peers, I just whiled away my time, waiting to have children while going out with one suitable wannabe dad after another, oblivious to my ticking biological clock.

Obviously, this is a total lie. A suitable man of marriageable age, willing to reproduce and be forever faithful in his 20s, is like a stylish mullet - pretty much impossible to find.

Research often fails to recognise two things.

Firstly - we know time is passing. The age of 40 hangs over us from the moment we turn 30. We are not men. We know what is going on, and we arm ourselves as best we can for pending middle age.

Secondly - we know the risks involved if we decide to "wait".

Many women don't want kids. Some want to progress in their careers, others are getting IVF. But not every women who has kids after 40 has "waited". The only thing that holds a lot of women back is men - or the lack thereof.

When I was at my childbearing peak in my mid-20s, I was hanging out with a particularly incompetent batch of males, who could barely tie their shoelaces together and had the social skills of a barrel of macaques on a dinner table.

By their own admission, my male friends said they wouldn't buy their 30-year-old selves a pint.

As a woman, if I had gotten pregnant then, I would have turned my back on my early-house lifestyle and prepared for motherhood, as many women do when they find out they are having a baby.

When I asked my 50-year-old friend what he would have done if he had got some girl pregnant in his 20s, he joked: "I would have ran."

Biologically, we're best-placed to have children by the age of 25. It makes sense - we're young and have lots of energy and our eggs are in much better shape than they will be later down the line.

That means we have a few years to fulfil numerous feminist milestones laid out for us, too.

We have to cram in college and get good jobs so that we can close the gender pay gap down the line. Then, once the baby comes, we need to make sure we can pay for childcare, rent, mortgages and all the other costs that come with reproducing.

If that's not impossible enough, we then have to convince some young, non-committal twentysomething to give up his freewheeling, self-indulgent lifestyle to do all of this stuff.

I know men are no longer as hedonistic as they were in my generation, but that doesn't mean they want to be in serious relationships.

The internet and social media mean the only engagement you might get out of a bloke is an emoji underneath a post.

In my day and age, men were scared of funny, tall and smart women. The new man is afraid of opinions, gluten, all women and beard clippers.

They're scared of chatting up women in case they crush their head between their legs. Because of Lena Dunham and her ilk, men won't even walk you home any more.

Also, many people in their 20s are still living with their parents, because they can't afford to rent or buy a place, thereby making life even more difficult when it comes to procreating.

Clearly, our body clocks aren't in sync with 2017 Ireland. How on earth are women supposed to have children by a certain age if they don't have men or places to live? I can only imagine how many dates a woman would get on dating sites like Tinder these days if she said: "I was hoping to be pregnant with my first child by the time I'm 28, preferably 26. Do you want to met in the nursery department in IKEA?"

We live in times where modern families exist. More women than ever are getting sperm donors and looking after matters themselves, rather than waiting.

The thing is that not everyone can afford to be a single parent, especially in Dublin, where it is impossible to live on one wage and pay for childcare.

According to Eurostat, 50pc of Irish women give birth to their first child in their 30s and Ireland has a higher rate of first-time births for women in their 40s than the EU average.

So what's the solution? Have a baby with the wrong guy, which can be tedious and suck the lifeblood out of you, or get them when they've got their "me, me, me" time out of the way? Most of my male friends didn't have children until they were beyond 40.

Either way - remember that by procreating with the fun, crazy, good-looking ones with no jobs you thought were great in your 20s, you will pay the price in your 40s. So just go for the more secure, boring ones.

Irish Independent

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