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These three articles about “fertility” windows, not for parents but for extended family, are loaded with assumptions about their subjects’ class, income and educational levels - as well as the assumption of a 2-parent family. If 36-40 is too “old” to start trying for kids, why is 23 and under too “young”? (A family friend of ours is dismayed by her 3 of her 4 grandchildren having young children, but they all became parents at age 21 or older, not as teenagers - the same age she had her first child in the 1960s.) Is the “right” age to have children really only 28 to 33?

The grandparent handwringing doesn’t apply to me - my mother got her 2 grandchildren at age 58 and 62. It makes me think of my own parents however, who didn’t get around to having me until past age 35, late in life indeed for the mid 1970s and in our geographical area. My grandparents were ages 64 to 73 by the time I came along, and I was lucky in that I remember my maternal grandparents well, both of whom lived to their 90s and were pretty healthy at least until my teenage years. If there were scare articles like this when my parents were young, what would they have done about having children, I wonder?

-Would my dad not have married his first wife, who later died of lupus and was never healthy enough to consider parenthood? How could he have predicted she would get the diagnosis she did (this was long enough ago that she was told being sick “was all in her head”).

-Should my mother have stayed in her first marriage, which she cheerfully calls a “disaster” to this day, and had more children when she was younger (before age 30) with a man who was a terrible partner for her? She had two children with him that she ended up raising by herself because he wasn’t a guy who was equipped to be a decent father, even by 1970s standards. She divorced him at 28 and married my dad at 33. Not really procrastination so much as “trying to find a good family situation for herself.”


-Friends of mine have two young children now, in their late 30s, with parents in their 60s, only to find that they’re much more interested in traveling during their retirement than in grandkids. This may change when the kids aren’t babies anymore, or it may not. (The kids have honorary grandparents to full that role.) Another friend’s mother is trying her hardest to be our culture’s idea of the “right” grandma - warm, fuzzy and cuddly, and she just isn’t. She simply prefers adults to children, in spite of being a mother and grandmother herself.

Families - so much complicated than the media would have you believe!

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