i have a confession to make. i passed a pregnant woman who was clearly in her 40s on my way to the bus today and freaked out. why did i freak out? it took me a while to unpack what appeared to me a gross overreaction. of course women can and do continue to birth children well into their 40s. this is not new. change of life babies have been around for years. and poor sarah was dang near a change of century baby. so why the freak out?
i am turning 37 in a little over a month and the thought of being that pregnant woman in a few years gave me more than heart palpitations. nothing about that situation sounds appealing to me. so that made me confront a few things. first, there is no way i’m giong to look as old as she did at that age. thank God for the gift of melanin and oily skin. even at almost 37 i’m still routinely carded at the movies. i wish i was joking. i’m not. and yes, i agree that it’s a major stretch to doubt i’m at least 17, but it happens. often. but not looking 40 doesn’t change that i will be 40 in just three years if i keep living, and being a new mom after 40 sounds like the opposite of fun to me. i’m also confronted with the realities that life is incredibly precarious and even 40 is not guaranteed. things happen beyond our control that can rob us of life. i never thought i would have to accept my own mortality at such a young age, but death is as much a part of our daily existence as is life.
second, i’ve never been completely sold on motherhood. i know to my core i would make an amazing mother. that doesn’t mean i’m over the moon about devoting my life to a child. i like sleep. i like having a fluid schedule. i like making decisions without thinking about daycare and school and practices. i think children are amazing little humans, but i’m not 100 on producing my own. and at 40 when i’ve had so many years of freedom, is chaining myself to a child really what i see for that stage of my life? when i think about my 40s, i don’t see sleepless nights, changing diapers, and pushing buggies in the picture.
the life i have carved out for myself is a rich one. it is full and complete in so many ways. and yet there are certain monumental milestones i haven’t yet reached that threaten to rain on my parade. my issues come when others try to convince me that my truths aren’t acceptable. as a woman, i have enough battles cleansing myself of societies stifling view of how my life should look. i don’t need anyone else’s overbearingly limiting views of what womanhood is to add to the mix. what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander.
seeing that pregnant woman in her 40s forced me to really examine my heart. have i truly made peace with being a childless woman, or was i just saying it to pacify myself because i might not have a choice but to accept it? was i going to be angry in my twilight years because i didn’t want it enough when it counted and now it was too late? would i feel incomplete and inadequate as a woman if i never gave birth? living with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome has always meant pregnancy was iffy anyway. but was my acceptance merely a lack of faith or an expression of it? i have been taught for so many years that faith was at odds with sight. yes, the word says faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, but is it possible to hold realism and hope together? is there room for me to accept that god can do any and everything while also knowing there are times when he just doesn’t?
i sat on that bus ride tonight having an existential crisis because everything we hold true about our identities as women is almost always measured in connection to man and child. yet when i look at myself in the mirror i see the reflection of a complete and whole, dope as fuck woman. period. there is no lack. that is not to say there is not a desire for things. but those desires are not a function of adding completeness, as much as they are the evidential overflow of an abundant life.
i’m thankful i didn’t have to unpack this myself. i have people i can reach out to when i need to process. and now that i have processed, i am able to look at the root of my reaction. if being christian really is saying my life is not my own, that i willingly surrender my will and all to god, what does surrender look like in the context of love and family? my gut tells me my reaction was a matter of surrender and not a matter of desire.
when i think about the cultural vernacular of the word surrender, it is always in the context of war. i picture a battlefield and being surrounded by the enemy. it means having no agency – no say in the outcome of your life. to surrender means to accept defeat and hope for mercy from those who would seek to bring you harm, or even death. so what in the world does it mean to surrender your all to god? i am not at war with god. i do not believe that god wishes to bring me harm. god and me, we are not beefin. in fact, all of me believes that god has a plan for my life that brings me a good and expected end. so how do you tangibly surrender your all at the feet of the savior? what does it mean to lay it all down?
after placing an expiration date on my womb, have i told god that i am unwilling to surrender that area of my life? does it tell god i am unwilling to trust him in matters of love and family? does it mean i am unwilling to accept defeat in a battle for control over my life? does it mean god and me are indeed beefin? i hate that i am walking away from this experience with some answers, but far more questions. uncertainty makes me feel icky. but i know i’m not alone in juggling these truths. i’m sure there are many women who wrestle with these questions, and like me, are desperate for spaces to talk them out. should you find yourself in possession of answers, do share. if i’m not beefin with god, how do i surrender? like molder said, the truth is out there.