This is a guest post from the fabulous
Katherine Baldwin of From Forty With Love
I am forty – forty-and-two-thirds to be precise – and single. I’m childless and/or childfree, however you prefer to look at it. I have a desire to have children of my own. And I’ve just declared a moratorium on dating. I’ve called off the search for a partner…
Foolish? Crazy? A little extreme?
Well, yes and no. Given that my biological clock must be ticking furiously by now, it might be a little foolhardy. But as regards my long-term sanity, happiness and fulfillment, it makes perfect sense. You see, it’s taken me all these years to get to an understanding of where I’ve been going wrong, to comprehend why my relationships – and there have been many – never worked out.
It seems I was jumping the gun. I was looking to have a harmonious relationship with someone else before I’d found peace in my relationship with myself. I was trying to create a happy and full life with someone else before managing to create one for myself. And I was hoping to love and nurture a child before learning to love and nurture me.
Did I really think being in a partnership and having a baby would take away my feelings of loneliness and incompleteness? Did I really think being part of a couple and a family would make me feel whole? It sounds naïve but maybe I did.
But now I can see that if I’d got what I wanted when I wanted it, I might have ended up not wanting it pretty quickly or not being able to cope with it. And you can’t just get up and leave when you’re married and a mother – at least not without painful consequences.
So, today, I’m grateful I’ve recognised I’m not yet ready. I’m thankful I’ve decided to surrender my romantic future and prospective motherhood to God. And I’m pleased I’ve resolved to stop running the show. Trying to control the outcome only ever ended in tears – always mine, often someone else’s too.
Of course, this begs the question whether I’m really ready for the potential consequences of my actions. Am I really prepared for the inevitable grief I’ll feel if I don’t have a child of my own? Am I ready to watch my dearest friends get pregnant and bring up their beautiful babies? Am I content to stay an aunt? I’m not sure I can answer those questions right now – but nor do I have to.
What I do know is whatever happens I’ll have a testimony.
It’ll either be a testimony of a woman who took some time off from romance, created a life she loved and then met someone, at forty-one, forty-two or forty-three even, fell in love and had a child. A story that perhaps will encourage other women who are worried about the ticking clock to take time out and ask themselves if they’re truly ready.
Or it’ll be the testimony of a woman who – like Jody – didn’t have the baby she wanted but who worked through the feelings of grief and loss to lead a full, purposeful and childfree life and to be an inspiration to others. Whatever happens, I’ll have my testimony. And I profoundly believe the tough times in life are there not only to strengthen us but also to encourage, inspire and empower others.
Since I turned forty in March this year, I’ve been sharing a little of my testimony and my feelings about this stage of life with those who’ve been kind enough to read my blog. It’s been an interesting journey. I’ve felt the baby gap – a sense there’s something missing in my life, something I’m supposed to have done by this age. I’ve been dating with baby goggles on – eyeing up every man as a potential father to my future children, talking about kids far too early on and forgetting to enjoy the experience without having to know all the answers. And now, after a brief relationship that ended, I’ve decided I’m calling off the search for a partner. It’s time to focus on me – on my relationship with myself, my relationship with God, on my passions and my purpose.
Since I’ve made that decision I’ve also realised I’ve been drifting for a while – perhaps for the last few years. I’ve had a vague idea of what my purpose is – to share my story in the hope it would help, encourage or at least entertain others, and to share the stories of inspiring people and organisations around the world to encourage us all to get involved in the good stuff that’s happening out there. But I haven’t exactly pursued this purpose with gusto.
Instead, I’ve been drifting, perhaps confused by where I am in my life, perhaps assuming by this age I’d have had children to look after or a partner with whom to share tough decisions, financial concerns, foreign travel and fun. I think I’ve kind of had things on hold.
I’ve been treading water. Playing a waiting game.
The advantage of this moratorium on dating, however, is I have to get on with things myself. No more waiting. No more drifting. I have passion – it’s there somewhere, beneath the malaise – and I have a purpose, at least one to get along with until I have a better idea. There’s nobody else to provide for me, no-one to take decisions for me, and no-one else I can rely on to make me happy. It’s down to me.
Paradoxically, though, I’m far from alone. I’m surrounded by beautiful, intelligent, childfree women – women who are also on journeys of self-discovery, who are also wondering what their future holds. We support each other, inspire each other, pull each other out of the pit and rejoice with each other. Where will we be a year or two from now? Who knows, but the beauty is I don’t have to worry about that today.
With many, many, thanks to Katherine Baldwin FromFortyWithLove for this moving guest post for Gateway Women. Katherine is a storyteller. She is a journalist, a writer, a blogger and a teacher of writing and journalism. She loves to write from the heart, to share the stories of inspiring men and women, to have a positive impact on those around her and to share her experience with the hope of helping others. She loves to laugh, dance, exercise, enjoy nature, share, explore and to go on adventures. You can find her on Twitter @From40WithLove.