I'm reminded of this when yet another friend has a baby. A bigger reminder still when a friend tells me about the struggle she and her husband are having in getting pregnant, or still (more devastatingly) when a friend has a miscarriage.
The other 30-something single ladies in my life have (unbeknownst to them) contributed to these reminders. One friend recently wondered aloud whether it was time for her to consider investing in property. Should she (we) move ahead with big life decisions now, instead of waiting for a man to enter the picture?
I wonder, at what point does one decide that she is single? Not as a woe-as-me reaction, but as a clear-headed reality. From here, I wonder, is there an acceptable time to then consider starting a family on one's own? Is it okay for a single woman today to intentionally have a family, sans husband?
Mothering minus father
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada is the research arm of Focus on the Family, a registered Christian charity. Its research aims to give government a better understanding of the importance of families in its policy decisions. Executive Director, Andrea Mrozek says it's been a normal part of compassion work for women to raise children on their own, such as nuns running orphanages.
"Adopting children so as to save them from certain death, for example, in some parts of the world, or to rescue them from unbearable living circumstances is an admirable course of action whether married or not," says Mrozek.
Scripture backs this practice: religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress. (James 1 verse 27)
Other women, who've experience childhood without a father, might disagree. Megan Nacisse, a 31-year-old mother, says she doesn't want to imagine raising her son without her husband. Nacisse grew up without a father starting at the age of nine, after her parents' got a divorce.
Mrozek, from The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada tends to agree. "Dads, like moms, are not negotiable. They are not extrasâ€"they are the basis of stability for children."
Courtney Rossiter is a 22-year-old first time mom. She and her husband, James, knew they wanted children at some point, but didn't realise that God would prompt them to start a family within their first year of marriage. "If it's something God is saying, that it's time for a single woman to start a family, then I think He would bless it." However, Rossiter notes there are some implications worth considering, such as whether or not a man would invest in an already-existing family.
Check your motherhood motivation
In the film "The Back-up Plan", the single, successful main character decides now is her time to have a child. She gets implanted with an embryo. Then, as only a perfectly scripted Hollywood movie would have it, she bumps into Mr. Right as she leaves her appointment. A highly unlikely scenario, but with a pre-planned family on the way, Mr. Right needs to decide if he wants to jump in as Dad.
Mrozek, from The Institute of Family and Marriage says the desire to have a family is a very heartfelt one for many women and men. Yet, she worries about the motivation of using some fertility treatments to fulfill that desire. "Under these circumstances the questions to ask are whether or not the child is becoming a consumer good, to be created at will, for the benefit of the parents."
Just as with many choices in life, I know that I need to check my motivations. Do I want to have children so I can take care of someone else's need, or is it to satisfy some personal desire?
When I get to that second motivation, I'm reminded of an episode of a trashy, American talk show I watched. During the interview a 16-year-old girl cried out that she desperately wanted to have a baby so that someone would love her. I remember that statement with sadness for the teen, yet also with a flicker of recognition of my own selfishness.
Let the clock tick
While my desire for motherhood is a real one, I know I don't need to worry about it. As spoken-word poet, Janette Ikz put it powerfully, "I will no longer get weighted down, from so-called friends and family talk about the concern for my biological clock, when I serve the Author of Time."
Although I don't have the answer as to whether or not I should start a family on my own, I can figure out why I want to be a mother. And in the meantime I can love the people around me with the same, nurturing heart I hope to one day offer my own children.
Lisa Goetze is a 30-something, single woman endeavouring to love people – of all ages - with reckless abandon. She's a former Canadian journalist who now calls Brisbane home. She works with Youth With A Mission.
Lisa Goetze's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lisa-goetze.html