Valentine's Day - a time to reflect
So, it’s Valentine’s Day – the day of love – once again.
I realise that it’s now been over six years since I last had a date on Valentine’s Day itself (and in fact, prior to that year, I hadn’t had a date for five years..)!
Back in February 2019 I wrote an article on dating. Then later that year (December to be exact), I wrote another which I decided not to publish - I felt it was too much, too honest, too everything. But now, I feel ready for you to see it.
Below you will find a deeply personal blog which takes some courage to share - it’s raw - but I hope that you find it insightful. (I will be following up with Part Two shortly to update you on actually what happened next). I warn you, it is around 8 minutes long, but it goes a little something like this:
I’m a little confused, and in honestly, maybe a tad sad, too.
I have spent the past 24 years doing all of the ‘right’ things in the dating sphere. I am independent and don’t rely on others and by all accounts, I’m a pretty kind, half attractive woman, with, a great personality (obviously, I own the last statement!). But despite waiting, and waiting – admittedly not putting too much thought into it – I still find that I am single.
Even with all of the knowledge and skills in the world, I can’t seem to fathom how I now find myself in this position – and forced into thinking about making a decision I quite frankly do not want to make. But here I am.
So, what am I talking about? I’m taking about making a decision – and a pretty huge one - to potentially have a baby on my own.
Firstly, I want to make it very clear that I do not want to be a woman who is categorised in the media and society as a ‘single mother by choice’. Rather, I would suggest a more accurate description would potentially be ‘a woman who is forced to be a single mother’.
To put things into context, I have been aware of this ‘issue’, I’d say, for the past three years or so, however - in true ‘Stacy’ style - I have not particularly given it much attention. I just knew that in the future I would want children. I was hopeful, optimistic and just thought it would happen one day. I must add that I’ve never felt the requirement to go out and ‘test’ out my ovaries or my eggs to see if they were firing on all cylinders (although there has definitely peer pressure to do so), nor have I been particularly broody or jealous of my friends who have subsequently gone on to have children. I have also seen some of my friends go through their own difficulties when trying to conceive yet this has not caused me to rush out and bring forward any of these options which I had buried deep within my subconscious.
Obviously, this is a deeply personal blog, and you may all be asking why I have now decided to share it. This is why: because I know that there are so many women (and men) out there who are just like me – and we need to talk about it.
We need to talk and hear more about it because, although it can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, it’s of paramount importance to discuss. Despite talking to many of my friends, many of which are struggling to find, or maintain a long-term connection with another person, the only thing I can find when trying to figure this all out for information is a huge amount of talk on ‘single mothers by choice’. Which in my view, is a completely separate thing. The wording itself simply doesn’t resonate - even if technically, once I have made the decision – it would indeed be a choice. Despite this however, I have a deep respect for the women who do decide by choice to have a baby.
I want the partner. And I want to be able to plan a family with that person. I thought I had time - I thought that I ‘knew’ it would just happen one day. But here I am, aged 40, feeling somewhat forced to potentially go it alone.
I have, of course, started talking to my close circle of friends about how I am feeling, and as you can imagine I have also been discussing my feelings in regards to having to make such a choice – when I don’t feel that I should have to. But as a woman, this decision is slowly slipping out of my own hands, and it’s no longer in my control – Mother Nature literally has me in handcuffs!
I also cannot shy away from the actual possibility that physically it may not even be possible anymore. Having worked in mental health for such a long time, I have always had the view that positivity and hope is an essential component for living the best life possible, and worrying about things only leads to more stress. So, I’ve pretty much thought I’d leave it up to fate. Anyways, I digress…. so, my conversations have been met with a wealth of opinions, - some good, and some bad. Comments such as ‘a child needs two parents’, ‘just go out and find yourself a man’ and people implying a ‘if you want something I can have it’ kind of scenario’. As you can imagine, such opinions haven’t been the most helpful when it comes to sorting out my already conflicting thoughts.
I do also find it very strange that some people may think that I haven’t considered that it might be hard; that I may need to give up my career in London and move back home; that I might struggle and feel isolated and generally that it is a huge responsibility to take on solely.
I’m a pragmatic person, of course I have thought about all of this – and yes, it terrifies me. Honesty, I am one of the most laid back individuals you can meet. If you happen to be a personality guru, I score within the low range of neuroticism, and I score really high on optimism and positive outlook. Yet, as valuable as these personality traits have been throughout my life so far I don’t mind admitting that, this stuff scares the absolute s*** out of me (excuse my French, but I feel that it’s important to be authentic)!
I’ve also heard comments which are aligned to gender, such as ‘Now you truly understand why we live in a man’s world’. There really is a reason God built men to conceive a child at any age’. So, against my better judgement as I think men are great – I’m jealous, I’m jealous that you don’t have to make this same decision. With respect, damn you!
Now, let me address this ‘Go out and find yourself a man’. Well, what a question that is. If only it were that easy. Some might assume I am picky, or alternatively you may think I’m a nightmare/high maintenance individual. I mean, sure - I like what I like - but I don’t believe that being a securely attached woman who doesn’t ‘need’ a man but would ‘like’ one puts me in the second category. I have written previously about dating – it can be a nightmare. The last guy I dated told me that he was divorced, only for me to find out that he wasn’t (he was separating, but that’s a very different thing) and that wasn’t even the worse of the situation (I look for the best – he was a wonderful soul!).
I love unconditionally and with passion, but I don’t love easily – something which I am proud of, and something which has enabled me to not just settle, but instead strive for the best out of my life, and also any lover or partner. I don’t feel that I have particularly ‘high expectations’ nor am I ‘overly demanding’ and as an expert in perfectionism I do not feel it meets any such criteria, either. I have had some great relationships in the past with some great men. I have dated some wonderful men who in fact I have remained close friends with - but for whatever reason, it simply hasn’t worked out. I do not regret any of my breakups, and I am happy that as people, we have moved on to have a greater sense of happiness in the longer term.
Overall, my life is perfectly okay. I am happy. Of course, authentically, life has its peaks and troughs, and things happen at times when you’d rather they didn’t - but generally, I can say that life is pretty good. If Mother Nature wasn’t banging on my door, I’d be content with just living each day of my life as I have.
BUT (and it is a big BUT…) I categorically want children. I am great with children and quite frankly I feel that if I do not become a mother, it would be an incredible shame. I know I will be a great mother and if that means going it alone, I am pretty sure that I’ll be okay. I guess others in the world may say I’m being selfish, or that I don’t ‘need’ children. But there, we can agree to disagree.
It is also hard figuring this all out. Having a baby on my own will take bravery which is currently beyond my comprehension – and I’m not sure I’m there yet. You cannot underestimate how this feels; making such enormous, significant decisions when you don’t have someone who is beside you. It’s not just a ‘social norm’ or ‘ideology’, to me. My values are heavily invested in family, and I 100% believe in love, friendship and partnership.
I have also been put off whilst doing my research. My friend and I did some Google searches on ‘sperm donation’ and I got massively weirded out by the fact that most donors are ‘very’ young and often, still students. Whilst this has been met by friends with ‘at least it’ll be healthy sperm’, I have to say I never imagined that the potential father of my child would be an 18-year-old student. It just feels wrong to me. I’m really struggling to get past this but as you can guess, this is a huge part of the process – what if I cannot get over it?!
Anyway, back to dating. I know I’ve checked out. I know that I should get back in the game, but I just feel that I just no longer want to put myself out there anymore. I have dating fatigue and I’m disillusioned by my experiences (I know I’m not alone here!). I am also under no illusion that my dating options will fazzle to almost zero while potentially pregnant or with a young baby. It is like cutting your nose off to spite your face, sacrificing one part your life for another – yet as a realist, I’m acutely aware that I cannot have it all. Plus, as many point out, when having a child, you will often have to sacrifice your life for theirs.
As I sit here and type my truth, I’m also very aware that this in itself may even hinder my chances for a relationship right now - as I will be labelled as a woman who has a biological clock ticking! (Very attractive, I am sure, to those I am wishing to attract…) Strangely, having a baby is not something I remotely think about when dating; it is not my first tick box. In fact, it probably isn’t even in the top 10! Maybe this is where I have been going wrong…
Anyway, maybe I’ll report back on what happens next – or maybe I won’t. maybe nothing will happen and I will leave it in the hands of fate.
Until then, may the force be with me.