Where did my biological clock go?

By Valerie Khoo | Jun 06, 12 09:27 AM

Apparently, I have a biological clock. And apparently, it’s meant to be ticking. Loudly. In fact, by my age, it’s supposed to be deafening.

Apparently, I have a biological clock. And apparently, it’s meant to be ticking. Loudly. In fact, by my age, it’s supposed to be deafening.

However, I can’t actually hear a thing. The “tick tock” that’s supposed to remind me to have babies just sounds like … silence.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against kids. They’re cute little things that brings lots of joy into people’s lives. But I’ve never had that visceral urge to have one. Not even the slightest twinge to procreate.

It’s true that my life is already full with a successful business, lots of projects and a never-ending quest to experience new things. But raising a child has never been one of them.

In my twenties, I did imagine that I would have children – but mainly because that’s just what everyone did. In the same way that everyone (in my then fairly sheltered world) got good marks in the HSC (tick), went to uni (tick), got a job (tick), bought a property (tick) and so on. Kids were simply another step in a stereotypical life journey (yet to be ticked).

And now that I’m WELL over my twenties, I do sometimes wonder whether I should head down this path … just in case it’s an utterly amazing experience that I might miss out on. I was talking to my friend Bob the other night. He’s a first time father at 50. “I never wanted them either,” he confessed to me. “But now that I have one, there’s nothing in the world like the feeling you have when your child looks up at you and cuddles you. It really is unconditional love. There’s really nothing like it.”

Sounds like an amazing experience.

Would I like to experience it? Sure.
Would I have a child for it? Hmmmm ….

I figure that FOMO (fear of missing out) is probably not the best reason to bring a child into the world.

I was speaking to a woman the other day who said to me: “But you should have children … after all, who is going to look after you when you’re old?” (I didn’t think that was a good enough reason to have kids either.)

Sometimes, I also wonder if I missed out on that clucky gene that makes you want to populate the world with little versions of you and your partner. For years I never quite understood the desire to have a child.

Then I watched the movie Children of Men, starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore. I had no idea what it was about when I flicked my Foxtel on to it. I just figured Clive would be some nice eye candy for a couple of hours. Little did I know that it was set in a post-apocalyptic earth where all women have become infertile. No children have been born for 18 years and the human race is slowing becoming extinct. Then a miracle happens. A woman manages to become pregnant, Clive Owen’s character has to protect her in the midst of a war-torn planet. This is in order to save … the human race.

During the movie, when it was vital for mankind to live on – and the fate of the world rested on the birth of this child – I had a brief moment of understanding. For about a minute, I felt what it was like to WANT to have a child. To carry a baby in my arms. To nurture it and give it a chance at life.

I realised that I DID have the capacity to want a child. I just needed the fate of the human race to be in my hands in order for it to kick in.

It was also fleeting glimpse into what it was like to yearn for a child. And I finally understood and empathised with people who told me how much they wanted a family of their own.

That feeling went as quickly as it came (possibly because Foxtel then cut to an ad break). I never felt it again and, to be honest, I’m glad. Because it was so very sad. To want something that nature (or luck, God, the Universe or crazy chromosomes) may not necessarily grant you.

So I have to say: I’m grateful that my biological clock is deafeningly silent.

Who knows? It may wake up one day. And by that time, it could all be too late. But for now, I sometimes wonder if I’m just living in blissful ignorance. I adore my life. And if I’m completely honest about it, I love the fact I don’t have kids. I’m in awe of people who do – not because they have children, but because they manage to successfully juggle so many responsibilities and demands – and I just don’t know how they do it!

Whatever your situation, I wish you the best. In the meantime, my biological clock and I will be hanging out with Foxtel. And next time Clive Owen appears on screen again, you might hear a faint sound … tick … tock.

Valerie Khoo is a journalist, small business commentator, Editor of the Business Chicks magazine Latte and Managing Director of the Sydney Writers' Centre.  This post was originally posted on her blog at www.valeriekhoo.com


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Comments (4) | Add a comment

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Renee Weir
By Renee Weir NSW | Jun 08, 2012, 10:50 AM

Great article Valerie. I'm now 32, married for 14 years and have never even remotely felt the urge to have a child. I love my friends children, but don't want one of my own. It's amazing how often I am judged and sometimes downright bullied for the decision not to have children. Adding to the list of ridiculous reasons people give for why you should have a child, one friend told me having a child would improve my personality. Thanks! Not sure how getting no sleep and constantly worrying about a little person in my life is going to improve my personality, but there you go. I think we all contribute to the future of the human race in different ways, that don't necessarily involve having children. Although if Clive Owen offered..... :-)Reply

Louise Greenstock
By Louise Greenstock VIC | Jun 07, 2012, 11:28 AM

Dear Valerie, love your refreshingly honest article. This topic interests me so greatly for a number of reasons. I recently turned 30 and have not yet had a child of my own. I am a passionate career girl and am just finding my groove with this, with many ups and downs! One of my passions is the dilemmas that women face in their working lives, including the decisions surrounding having kids. I have noticed that even in academic research women are asked about returning to work with the assumption that they didn't want to and felt pressured to return after giving birth - but what about those who would have preferred to be at work and felt pressured to stay home. I think it is such a complex, personal issue and societal pressures don't always help, not to mention the lack of truly flexible work practices. I loved reading and thank you for writing. Louise Reply

  • Valerie Khoo
    By Valerie Khoo NSW | Jun 07, 2012, 01:47 PM

    Glad you enjoyed it Louise. So many people have such different opinions and expectations. It's just a shame when we're made to feel guilty for whichever choice we make!

Renee Gresham
By Renee Gresham QLD | Jun 06, 2012, 05:18 PM

Great article. You are not alone. I have never heard the Tick Tock. Neither has my husband of 12 years. And I agree, FOMO and aged care are not good reasons to procreate. It is always easier to run with the herd (until you are in the thick of it and realise it's full of flying hooves and smelly bovine) and I must admit to the occasional self-doubt - OMG should I have had a child? It generally comes upon me when my other goals are not tracking so well and I am attempting to summon some kind of alternative. Having a child as an excuse to not pursue said goal/give up is also a terrible reason to procreate. Fortunately my world is filled with amazing mothers and fathers, would-be mothers and fathers, cool aunts and uncles,DINKS, DINKDI, and the plain-just-not-interested-in-breeding. There are no "child-hating-irrational-freaks". Rather, the children in my social group benefit greatly from this diverse mix of adults. We all have roles to play in their lives and their experience and support network is richer for it. And pre-IVF and supermarkets (yep - we are talking cavemen) it was probably ever thus! So if you hear a tick, tock - just make sure it's not your other dreams vying for your attention and if it is the baby knocking - let him/her in - just make sure you're sure. Reply

  • Valerie Khoo
    By Valerie Khoo NSW | Jun 07, 2012, 01:49 PM

    Exactly right Renee. It should be for the right reasons. I once knew a woman in a high profile role who confessed to me that she got pregnant because she knew she was going to be pushed out of her job (sacked) and so the pregnancy gave her an easy "out" instead of suffering a public humiliation. Oh dear!

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