At school it’s all so straightforward: you and your peers are moving together en masse towards adulthood with your life events punctuated primarily by exams. In your 20s, while some get married and others start work, a large number of you go to University – either way, you’re embarking upon THE REST OF YOUR LIFE*
(Along the way, you find out that it can be more of a stumble through the undergrowth but if you’re lucky you emerge scarred but not fatally so, and perhaps a bit more wise about the people and things that might cause you harm)
And then come the spates of weddings. Next, the rash of babies. It’s a very predictable course, but for some reason I’m a bit staggered: I have no less than five friends expecting this year and there at least four more that I’d wager are going to send me a text or email over the course of the year with the happy news that they are pregnant, to which my first thought is always, if I’m honest: “Wow, you’ve been busy!” followed swiftly by “Eww..didn’t want to go there” and “Oh my goodness a little you!”
At first, I guess I took the “miracle of life” for granted, but with some of my closest friends falling pregnant this year, watching them grow, both in size and knowledge, has been nothing short of amazing. I feel at once awed and humbled by the female body. Hearing all the detail about baby growth and development I find my thoughts immediately shifting to women in less fortunate circumstances, who bring their babies to term and into this world in poverty or instability, sometimes by themselves. I think of the statistics and how despite medical advances, pregnancy and childbirth is still a dangerous act that’s miraculous and grounded, visceral and wonderful, ancient and timeless all at the same time.
And yet, I still don’t feel it, that supposed tick-tock of the biological clock. I marvel at, and yet have no desire to enter the sisterhood of the motherhood, that secret, incredibly intimate but powerfully symbolic space. When I was 29, I fretted that perhaps I had taken a wrong turn somewhere in the undergrowth and emerged scratched and staggering into the wrong clearing while everyone else was getting married, buying houses and having babies in the next clearing over.
I hope I will one day; but right now I have filled my house with words, music and flowers. I love and am loved. I tend my garden. I explore my clearing.
*and for some reason, it is always presented as this neat and tidy finite thing, when in fact it’s a bit of a plan, a bit of a muddle and a lot of pretending you’re all grown up when you actually still find a video of cat pushing another one down the stairs utterly hilarious.