Hitting ‘snooze’ on the biological clock

Kia Abdullah’s social circle is shocked and appalled that she remains childless at the doddering old age of twenty-seven:

As Valentine’s Day creeps ominously closer, friends and relatives are increasingly accosting me with sly suggestions and knowing winks. ‘Perfect time to, you know …’ they say, making melon-shaped gestures by their bellies. With 26 years of age and a mere three months of marriage behind me, apparently I am in my prime for pregnancy.

One aunt points out the average age of British first-time mothers: ‘Even white women have children by 27! You only have three months to go!’ she cries dramatically. Another unhelpfully chimes in: ‘All four of your married sisters had children by 27. What will become of you?’

I’ve always wondered if the biological clock actually exists. Some women say it does. Others say it doesn’t. One thing is clear: the assumption of the biological clock indulges the commentariat to engage in socially accepted misogyny. As Abdullah puts it:

Hollywood productions invariably turn ball-busting career women into gooey-eyed, broody mothers-to-be. The message? Even the steeliest career woman cannot escape the grips of this apparently ubiquitous maternal instinct.

Whatever you dream of doing, you will end up having children.

Criticism of this assumption runs into the brick wall of cliche: that everything natural must be good. (Jeremy from Peep Show: ‘Nothing natural ever hurt anyone, that’s a scientific fact.’) Abdullah says, ‘We are told that motherhood is in a woman’s nature, but it has never been in mine.’  Perhaps the idea of maternal instinct comes from the fact that contraception is a relatively recent development. Before then, sex was something like Russian roulette.

Of course if it works for you that’s cool. If not then that is valid too and it’s a sign of the sentimental obsession with family and childrearing that this point has to be argued in a liberal newspaper. Renton, in Trainspotting, says of his brother’s girlfriend that she’d been brought up on that get-a-house get-a-man get-a-bairn propaganda from day one, and had little chance of defining herself outside those mash-tatties-for-brains terms of reference.

Finally, I’ve written before about the rising cost of housing during the boom years. I’m the same age as Kia and it seems, in the post-capitalist world, that reproduction is a luxury that our generation will have to do without. And increasingly, it’s one that we wouldn’t mind losing.



3 Responses to “Hitting ‘snooze’ on the biological clock”

  1. Annie Says:

    OMG 26, what a young kitten. I’m 35 and childless, I know loads of people who have their first child in late 30s and a few in early 40s… what’s the problem?

    The biological clock is more like a social pressure clock mostly…

  2. myshittytwenties Says:

    Funny isn’t it? I was the last person on earth to even consider the merits of reproduction, yet when I got pregnant, I came over all protective and motherly. I think the point of my blog is that having a career and a life as well as being a mother is not, contrary to popular belief, impossible. Sometimes I feel a bit sad when I hear people say they have decided against having children, because they will never know the joy that I inadvertently got to know. But now I sound like one of the people who really irritated me before I became a mother so I’ll shut up!

  3. maxdunbar Says:

    Yeah I linked to you to give the other side of the story.

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