|Rachael Lloyd with a cousin's daughter|
I relish my freedom of spirit, financial independence and surrogate family of friends and work colleagues.
... I'm perfectly happy with my lot ...I love my job and wake up each day raring to get to work ... I spend my evenings seeing friends, dining out, going to the cinema or working out at a posh gym ... When I'm feeling maternal, I borrow a friend's King Charles Spaniel, Stella, for cuddles.
...There's a freedom to my life that I know I would never have if I was married with children
But she's now written another column, this time confessing that she is grieving over the absence of children:
the pain of being childless throbs away in my chest, and sometimes it feels unbearable. There are evenings I go home and just lie in the dark waiting for the day to end and my disappointment to be wiped out by sleep.
There are also few people I can talk to about it. My deeply mourned infertility is somehow seen as my own fault — a badge of shame that I have to wear.
...As each month passes and the tick of my biological clock gets ever more deafening, I have to face the fact that motherhood is highly unlikely to happen for me.
...I have no partner with whom to commiserate, no one to put their arms around me and tell me that it doesn’t matter, I’m still loved. I’m in this alone. Life can, at times, seem sterile and lonely.
Her autonomous, independent, modern girl lifestyle has led her to what she feels to be a sterile and lonely life.
Why did she not meet someone and have children? It's the predictable reason. She went along with the idea that her 20s were for partying, career and casual affairs with unsuitable men and that husband and children would just happen naturally after she turned 30:
So how did I manage to miss the boat? How did I mess up so spectacularly?She admitted in her previous column that:
During my 20s, I put in long days as an aspiring journalist, and at night I partied with the best of them.
...Like a lot of women my age, I’d thought 30 was probably an ideal age to settle down. But once I hit 30, it was as if I hit an oil patch and the years just slipped away. The men I dated either weren’t at the same life stage as me, or simply didn’t have the money to commit to a baby.
Historically, I've picked good-looking villains and addictive personalities.
I've had a ball and many passionate experiences, but nothing functional enough to constitute a long-term future - and never anyone 'normal' enough to bring home to meet the parents.
She's an attractive woman who in her 20s rewarded unsuitable men. Now, in her late 30s, she'll take anybody:
But as I approach 40, the landscape is not promising. Yes I date, and I’ve had some deliciously romantic experiences, but I feel this reccurring panic. Instead of getting to know someone slowly, I find myself sizing them up. Would they make a good father? Are they solvent enough? Could I wake up next to them each morning without wanting to strangle them?
If so, would they be willing to just get a move on and impregnate me?
There's one aspect of what went wrong for Rachael Lloyd that I should go back to. She writes that when she hit 30 and finally started to take the idea of marriage seriously, that the men she dated were not at the same life stage or didn't have enough money.
Reading between the lines, I imagine that she wanted an old-fashioned type of man successful in his career who could provide her and her future children with an upper middle-class lifestyle (whilst she perhaps did some occasional freelance work from home).
It's not that I think there's anything wrong with a middle-class woman having such an ideal. But how did she expect it to work out? How did she expect a family oriented, upper middle-class man to be waiting there for her when she turned 30?
If a man knows that he's not going to be wanted as a husband until about his mid-30s, then isn't it possible that his motivation to push ahead in a career will suffer? And what if, in his 20s, he is forced to compete with a cohort of highly careerist female peers for jobs and promotions and be put at a disadvantage by affirmative action policies, both official and unofficial? And what if young men realise that women are rewarding men not for their family guy qualities, but for being "villains and addictive personalities" - is that going to leave a pool of family oriented career men waiting for women when they turn 30?
If women like Rachael Lloyd still want to end up with a family oriented, career successful man, then they have to be part of a culture that encourages the production of such men. There should not be an assumption that a successful and stable family life is something that happens regardless as some kind of personal right.
This is a point that was made in Dalrock's post on the same story which can be read here.