39, Single and Childless – Whoa!

Today is my birthday. Since I have never been ashamed or embarrassed about my age, I say with pride that I am 39 years old. My weight, well, I’ll keep that to myself, but I will admit that while I am not overweight, I am noticing some softening around the midsection. I guess that comes with middle age. Nothing sit-ups and crunches won’t cure.

A few days ago, I was introduced to someone who wanted to know little more about me. So, I revealed my background and my age to which I received the question, “Are you married?” The answer is no. That response was immediately followed with, “Do you have any children?” The answer, again, is no. I braced myself and sure enough it happened.

The Pause.

I first noticed The Pause around my 35th birthday when I was still unmarried and childless. I was taken aback at first, not just by The Pause but also by The Look; that mixture of sympathy and pity sprinkled with the relief of, “At least that’s not me!” I received so many Pauses and Looks that I began to view myself differently. Up until that point, I had considered my happy and content, but maybe I was just fooling myself. As each subsequent birthday approached and I was still without a ring or a baby, The Pauses and Looks had me thinking there might be something really wrong with me. I became acutely aware that peer pressure doesn’t end in high school. To clarify things, I will answer questions I have actually been asked and you may be wondering yourself:

1. Yes, I like men.
2. Yes, I like children.
3. Yes, I am open to marriage and children.
4. No, I am not a lesbian.
5. No, I don’t have any physical or mental handicaps.
6. No, I don’t think I’m being selfish.

To be fair, I doubt if the person delivering The Pause or worse, the Pause/Look mix, is even aware of his or her actions. I certainly don’t think it is meant to hurt or cast doubt. I believe it is an instinctual thing. Aren’t we, as women, supposed to get married and help populate the earth? Isn’t there this strong biological clock whose incessant ticking propels us to carry out this duty? I never imagined I would be my age and not married with at least one child. While my marital status is not something I planned, it’s also not something that keeps me awake at night wrought with guilt and worry. I have a good life and I am happy. If tomorrow I met The One and this time next year gave birth to healthy baby, I would feel immensely blessed. Just as I feel immensely blessed today.

So, instead of spending the day bemoaning the fact that I am not living up to society’s expectations, I plan to kick back with family and friends and celebrate the gift of life and all the blessings the Lord has given me. Being single and childless does not equate to lonely and without purpose. I am happy for today and excited for tomorrow, even if some still want to view me as a pitiable spinster.

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