Monday, September 19, 2011

Fertile Dreams—by Jamie Levine

I became a single mother by choice because my biological clock was ticking and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to become a mother simply because I couldn’t find Mr. Right right away. I figured I’d do things backwards: become a mother first and a wife second. I made the right decision; today, I could never imagine my life without my daughter, and I give thanks daily that I didn’t wait—and potentially miss out on motherhood. However, missing out on married-hood is still a concern for me—and partly because of that damn biological clock.

I have two dear friends who are both on the verge of hitting 40—and have finally just found their mates. They both desperately want children and aren’t wasting a moment—or a fertility treatment—trying to get pregnant. Had I not become a single mother years ago, I could have been just like them, and am thankful I’m not going through their trials. I’m 41, and with my current resources as a single mom, one child is all I can handle. But since the birth of my daughter, I have happily pictured myself marrying a divorced dad and step parenting another kid or two. I never realized that most of the divorced dads I’d meet would picture things differently.

After a recent conversation with my ex—and a lengthy stint on some online dating sites—I’ve discovered that many men are only interested in siring children who share their own DNA. Most single men who have no kids yet want only to father their own biological ones…and those who already have one or two children potentially want more bio babes (or at least a woman who brings no kids to the table). I’m fit, self-sufficient, smart, sexy, and appealing in so many ways, and yet, at 41, I’m starting to feel washed up…all because my fertility window is almost closed.

I wish I could be content as a single mom, but I’m not. I want a partner—and ideally, a terrific dad for my daughter. I’m aware that step parenting is far from easy, but if I’m willing to take it on, why are so many men unwilling? Likely because they can afford to: In New York, desirable men have a lot more dating options than desirable women—and they also have more time in which to produce children. They think they can hold out for someone who fulfills all their fantasy criteria. And while I’m not willing to settle, myself, I do think I’m a bit more realistic about what I need to be happy. And it has nothing to do with a man’s fertility…or the kids he created before he met me.

Ironically, we all know men who married young women and still found themselves unable to father children because of their new wife’s surprising fertility issues. And a 41-year-old like me could potentially get pregnant for several more years (there’s a good reason why I’m on birth control pills!). But on paper, I appear less-than-ideal to many—simply because I’m a 41-year-old mother of one. Of course there are exceptions to every rule…and I’m hoping I can still find my own exceptional mate: Someone who appreciates and accepts me for who I am—and especially for the child I already have. Being a mother has made me a much better woman. But the challenge that remains is finding a man who understands that.


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