Feeling left behind

I’m 28 years old (29 in June) and I realise this is not very old at all. And I won’t sit here and complain that I feel old and creaky, don’t worry.

I might not be a spring chicken anymore but I am not old (SOCIETY, DO YOU HEAR THAT!?). Yes I can see the fine lines on my face and the odd grey hair springing up, but I am not old. I am, however, in the minority among my friends now.

I have more pregnant friends, or friends with children or friends thinking about getting pregnant than I have friends who are not. In fact, I only have one close friend my age who is in similar position to me (i.e. unattached and childless).

I’m at that age when this is inevitable. Weddings have come and gone and time is a’ticking. My mum had my sister before she was 30 (I mean, I know it was a different time back then but still). Does this bother me? Well no not really because honest to God the thought of having children scares the living daylights out of me and I’m quite enjoying the way my life is right now. The freedom, the disposable income, the flexibility of booking holidays whenever I want, the lie-ins.

But whenever I tell my mum about a couple who’s gotten pregnant I can see a little part of her die inside. She’ll deny this but it’s true. Mother, I know you too well. And I do feel a little like I’m being left behind. I can’t join in with pregnancy conversations about morning sickness and the first trimester tiredness. I’m awkward around my best friend’s little ones. I stare in amazement at how she’s able to be a fully functioning adult, make amazing cakes and crafts, go to work and still be able to bring up two beautiful children. And she still looks amazing (Louise, you truly do).

But I’ll say it again, I’m happy with my childless life. Who knows, I might never have children. And that’s OK too. I never grew up wanting children or wanting to be a mum. I can count on my hand the times I’ve looked at a child or baby and thought, “it might be nice to have one myself”. I only have to see the Facebook statues, the Tweets, and hear the mums at the running club talk about how tired they are, how they can’t fit in a run because of Child One or scheduling conflicts or being too tired/stressed to realise that I think myself lucky to not have children.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that a part of me will feel like I’ve failed as a woman or that I’ve missed out on something crucial if I don’t have children (I know this is entirely incorrect and purely my own thinking), but right now that’s not how I think.

Yes I realise I am only 28 years old and I’m not exactly running out of time in the great scheme of things, but I defy any single woman to not have these little niggles and concerns in the back of her mind as she creeps towards her thirties.

Though I don’t want children right now, and I’m not 100% certain I’ll ever want them, I do feel like the odd one out. I’m running out of friends to turn to and chat about how good not having children is. Meet-ups and dinner dates are harder to schedule as babysitters are required or pregnancy makes things a bit more tricky. And I still get those side-eye pitying looks, almost apologetic smiles, when all things babies are being discussed when I’m there…

I don’t know where this post is going or what this post was for. To reassure myself I’m OK? To reassure my mum I’m OK? To sound like I protest too much? I don’t know.

What I do know is that something does need to change in my life. I’ve let things become a bit stale and stagnant. I need to do something to change things up. I need to embrace my single life and do something a bit more crazy than sign up to another marathon or go on holiday (and run a marathon). I just need to decide what and whether I’m brave enough.

Do you want children/have children?

Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on something?

31 Replies to “Feeling left behind”

  1. Anna, prepare for a bollocking! You ARE OK, you definitely are NOT old, or past it! Average age for first time mothers is 30.3 (ONS) and rising so on that bases you are a spring chicken!

  2. Whatever else: you are brave enough.

    (Also, I feel like I’m getting left behind in the great ‘having babies via IVF’ which seems to be happening with all those friends of mine who don’t already have 10 year olds… and. One of my friends’ kids is now 18 and doing A-Levels! Heck. One of my former Brownies is a mother…I’m 38).

    I do hear ya on the way Mums react. Mine so desperately wants to be a grandmother – and I’m an only one!

  3. I’ve got exactly ten years on you, haha. I didn’t want kids either until I hit 30 and then I welcomed my little boy into the world. Then my world really changed! Lol It will happen (if at all) when you’re ready and the time is right. Don’t worry about it though Anna! 🙂

  4. I don’t have children and don’t particularly want them either. The gods honest truth is I’d rather have a dog! Yeah I’m married but kids have never really been on the agenda and I’m ok with that. It’s the expectation people have that sometimes makes me wonder but then I remember I’m perfectly happy as I am!

  5. Anna – Don’t worry, because you’re just fine!
    I’ve just turned 32 and gotten engaged in the same weekend and already my life is a bundle of questions.
    I’m constantly being asked ‘when are you having children’? ‘Do you want children?’ and reminded I’m getting on. It’s hurtful, unfair and uncomfortable – I have no idea if I can even have children. I’m tired of being made to feel like I’m in the wrong or ‘missing out’.
    Never mind the disgusted looks we got when we explained we brought a 4-bed house because we loved it, not because we planned a family.
    A huge part of me loves the idea, the other is absolutely terrified. I’m scared of letting go, I don’t want to be known only as ‘Mum’. However, some women strike the balance perfectly 🙂
    There’s no wrong and no right in this situation, no one has any right to make you feel uncomfortable with your choices.
    Katie G recently posted…Rhubarb & Strawberry Loaf CakeMy Profile

    1. THIS is exactly how I felt Katie. All the pressure and all the not knowing if I would feel comfortable having children or even could.
      We moved house at the same time as you did, to a four bed property. The move was genuinely because we had outgrown our previous house and wanted something a bit bigger. Hands up, – I’m a hoarder! (Although not like those extreme people you see on TV!) Even the estate agents tried to sell us houses with a ‘baby room’. Really did my head in!
      I’m so glad that I could have children and that I do have O, but I’m also really glad that Dan and I ignored everybody else and had him when we felt was right for us. (Which wasn’t until I was 31.) One of my big fears was that I would just become ‘Oscar’s Mum’ but I think so far I’ve managed to retain my identity fairly well (and still get my running miles in!)

      Anna – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with holidaying and running marathons whilst you’re away as well. I sometimes wish I’d managed to slot more holidays in first, so enjoy them for me too please!
      And it’s OK to ‘do something crazy’ but only if doing something crazy is something that you genuinely want to do and not something that again you feel like you should. x
      Mary recently posted…Easter funMy Profile

    2. Omg honest wait until you’re actually married THEN people go mental with the questions. Ridiculous. And how dare people judge you for the house you buy. I’d be like, “yes I store all my tiaras and diamonds in the spare rooms” because my disposable income is probably far better without kids!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A wobbly parkrun and my divorce partyMy Profile

  6. Hopefully this doesn’t turn into an essay…

    I’m 10 years older than you, not married (I had a near miss when I was 21), don’t own my own house and don’t have a career. Most of my family think that I’m a failure, I’m happy(ish) and to me that’s all that matters. They don’t seem to get that times have changed.

    My parents have been putting me under pressure to have children for the last 20 or so years. The day I graduated the pressure started. I wouldn’t mind but they are hardly good role models as they got married and had children when they were really young, never actually loved each other and got divorced. Fortunately, my brother and his wife have had two children so they kind of took some of the pressure off me.

    I don’t think that I’ve ever been very maternal. I’m useless at looking after my niece and nephew and spend the whole time stressing something bad will happen. I think my hatred of babies started the day I held my little sister Becky for the first time when I was 10. Mum placed her into my arms and Becky immediately threw up all over me. I’ve never looked back since.

    Sometimes I do feel like I’ve missed out, but now that it’s too late I’ve accepted my situation.

    At the end of the day it’s your life and you’ve got to do what’s right for you xx

    1. Sorry to hear about the pressure you’re under.
      I think it’s a mistake to believe women are naturally maternal. I’ve never felt maternal to babies or children. Ever. The only time I get that sort of twinge is with Alfie, but I guess it’s a lot different with humans!
      I think if you’re happy that’s all that matters. So many people get married and have children just “because that’s life”. We are the controllers of our own destiny, as sappy as that sounds. We can do what the hell we want!
      Thanks for you comment 🙂
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A wobbly parkrun and my divorce partyMy Profile

  7. I’m 28 this year. By classic definitions I’m behind – I have too much education but no savings, have barely started a career, no property, no marriage, no child (my mother had all of the above at 27).

    But you know what? Times have changed. Many people in my mum’s generation are facing dawning realisation that they took their life in certain directions because it was the done thing, not because it was the thing they wanted. That living in one fancy house never mattered to them. That maybe they didn’t really want to ever marry. I hope our generational learn to test our options and pick and choose the things we truly want.

    I also hope we learn not to reject a path by insulting it. There’s a tendency to defend your position with fire against the ‘other’ side (not in your blog post, don’t worry). But everyone’s path is valid, the choices each person makes are valid. Each person’s passions are valid. We shouldn’t reject a path by mocking those who want it.

    I want a home one day, because I am the sort of person who likes a base I can make my own, because I like geographical stability. I want savings, because worrying about my finances makes me unhappy. I want kids. These are quite conventional choices, but I shouldn’t have to apologise for those either.

    1. I don’t think you can say “too much education”. It’s just the path you chose.
      I agree. Though I don’t want kids, I can appreciate that it IS something people want. There’s nothing wrong with that. My sister is a mum and it’s the best thing that ever happened to her, she said. And for her it’s her whole world. There’s nothing wrong with making that decision. Or indeed not!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A wobbly parkrun and my divorce partyMy Profile

  8. I have pretty much the same thoughts as you. I never wanted children (so when people find out I am a teacher they wonder why- I mean, I still like children, I just see them all day at work, so why would I want more at home?), but I used to wonder if I would change my mind as I got older. But I haven’t, and now I feel like it would be a bit late to change my mind anyway. I did feel bad for my parents as I know they were looking forward to being grandparents, but luckily my sister had a baby so that is sorted for them.
    What I have struggled with a bit is keeping in touch with some friends. Some of my friends have had children and will still meet up (and I am happy to be flexible and see them in the daytime or whatever) but some have massively changed and literally all the conversation is about nappies, feeding, stuff like that, which I can’t relate to and also just find boring. So we don’t have the incentive to get together as we just don’t seem to have anything in common any more.
    We did raise a lot of eyebrows when we moved house, from our little maisonette to a 4 bed house (and some of the estate agents were a bit forward on commenting about baby rooms and stuff), but we just wanted more space, a driveway, and we get an office each.
    I honestly don’t feel like I am missing out- I have two lovely nieces so I get the best of both worlds as once they start crying I can hand them back to mum!
    Maria @ Maria runs recently posted…The podcasts we listened to on our northern road tripMy Profile

    1. It’s bizarre that because you don’t want children people wonder why you’re a teacher. It’s not one and the same!
      I fully agree about the boring bit. I mean I just struggle to find thing relatable about baby talk. It’s just not interesting to me. But such is life! I’m sure they find my running talk dull 😉
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A wobbly parkrun and my divorce partyMy Profile

  9. I’m 33 and I’ve never wanted children, I can’t see me changing my mind at this point either. My Mum does get upset that she won’t be having grandchildren from me, but it’s my life and I’m happy.

  10. Oh Anna, I really relate to everything you’ve written here. My husband and I are both still on the fence about children….and I turn 36 next week. So I do feel like the window of time I’ve got left is quite small and I probably need to make a decision one way or the other! But my grandmother was still having children well into her forties (she’s 98 now!) so genes are perhaps on my side. I just don’t feel ready, is the honest truth. I love my life and I don’t want it to change!

    Having said that, I dote on my nephews and nieces and do occasionally feel wistful and maternal, and that having and raising a child is something I’d like to experience. It’s just not a burning need, I have never had that hunger for a child that so many women I know have had. And even when I have started to think seriously about it, it’s never felt like the right time. Everyone says “you’ll never be ready, you’ll never be prepared, just go for it” but I think it’s too important and too life-changing a decision to take lightly! So maybe my problem is that I don’t want it *enough*. Who knows. More than one psychic has said that I will have children, but that it will happen at an incredibly inconvenient time…..which of course fills me with even more trepidation! Ha ha!

    But if I were your age again, I seriously wouldn’t be worrying! You’ve got bags of time if you decide further down the road that it’s something you want.

    And as for whether you’re brave enough to make a change in your life – there’s no question in my mind that you are 🙂 xx

    PS: I read your blog often and I’m sorry I’m not the most regular commenter. Reading blogs on Feedly doesn’t make it easy to comment!
    Philippa recently posted…the writer’s gardenMy Profile

    1. Ahh Philippa thank you for your lovely comment 🙂
      You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t worry right now. You make such valid points about not taking the decision too lightly. I mean, it’s such a big decision isn’t it? I don’t want to be a resentful mum. I want to be the best mum I can – if I do indeed want children at some point. I don’t think it should just be the next step on the ladder of a relationship.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A wobbly parkrun and my divorce partyMy Profile

  11. Can totally relate to a lot of this Anna, and I’m so glad you shared it. We are the same age, I was 29 in March, and I’ve been with my partner since we were 15, we aren’t married (though we always get those questions), and we have no plans to have kids at the moment, perfectly content with our lovely house and pup. I’m actually quite lucky in that though a few of my most friends are married, none of them have children as of yet so I’m not surrounded by all things baby, and don’t really feel under that much pressure from friends or family. I really don’t feel that maternal, and I’m more than happy with Baxter, who I am obsessed with. The only time it’s come up of late is when my GP told me my severe period pain would resolve if I got pregnant (cue eye roll).
    Lauren (@poweredbypb) recently posted…NDW50 2017My Profile

  12. I can really relate to this post 🙂 a lot of my friends are coupled up, engaged, married… I think I’m pretty lucky though as I don’t often get that side eye of pity. Sometimes I think ‘god what’s wrong with me, there’s squirrels out there having threesomes and I can’t get a text back!’ (Look up that meme!) but then I look back at the relationships I’ve had and think god I’m glad I’m out of them. I feel very myself and happy on my own, even though am not on my own, have great friends and family as you do too 🙂 I think I just want to find my ‘person’. So many amazing people around me have gone child free and are living such amazing busy lives and it’s really opened my eyes to other options. I’m the same, don’t know if children are they way forward for me but if it happens it happens! I think you do just need to enjoy this time, be a bit crazy, do things you want to do 🙂 and let me know I will join you! Haha X

    1. I think that’s where life is so different to years before, so many women are deciding they don’t want the traditional life of 2.4 kids or whatever it is. And actually can have an amazing life without them. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
      Hehe you’re always welcome to join my craziness!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A wobbly parkrun and my divorce partyMy Profile

  13. I love your personal posts. I relate to this somewhat. I didn’t meet Greg until I was 30 and we got married when I was 31. In my late 20’s I was often depressed (seems like you are not) about the fact that I was still single. Now I am 38 and we don’t have kids. For the most part, I don’t at all feel judged by society for this choice. In fact, I expected that I would get more negative comments than I do. But more often than not, women who have kids tell me that “it’s not for everyone” and if you have a child, you need to be “all in” which is not something I feel ready to do. And I don’t think I will ever be ready. When I was in my late 20’s I used to tell people that I didn’t want children and they told me that I would change my mind once I met the right person. That didn’t happen. Anyway, I’m sorry that your mother doesn’t seem too supportive of your decision, that must be tough.
    Elizabeth C. recently posted…Boston Bound’s Birthday and the Story Behind the StoryMy Profile

    1. That’s exactly what my mum said, “you’ll change your mind when you meet the right person”. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But I do know life won’t be incomplete without children. You make life what you want it to be. I think you’re living an absolutely awesome life 🙂
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A wobbly parkrun and my divorce partyMy Profile

  14. I can totally get how it must feel for you, but I genuinely don’t worry for your future. You’re a smart, feisty and successful person – always have been – and I have no doubts that you will lead a fab life. It’s just not gone the way you expected it to a few years ago. Although there is the increase of babies and socially your friends just aren’t able to be available like before, they will all still be there for you. Having kids doesn’t matter – it will either happen or not, and that’s totally up to you. Even though you don’t feel super maternal now, if it did happen one day you would be a great mum. And if not, then love the fact that you can hand the kids back and be a fab aunty (you’re already Jake’s best friend).

    Take this time to think over things and you’re in a position where you can make changes if you want to, without any major repercussions – most people don’t get that chance. You will be supported no matter what.

    Exciting times ahead. Xx

    P.s. Most days I’m barely treading water – I just have a wonderful gift of making things look easier than they are 😉

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