Single after 30: How to turn a cautionary tale into a fairytale
I was watching the news this morning and I paused on one of my favorite morning shows, Good Morning America, just long enough to hear Robin Roberts promo the next story, “The Sooner the Better,” with the tagline “New studies show that 90% of women’s eggs are gone by age 30.” Since I had to assume she wasn’t referring to the kind of eggs you make an omelet with, I immediately grabbed the remote and flipped off the TV before some know-it-all “expert” could take to the screen with his message of gloom and doom and perform his last rites on my eggs.
Last week, one of my best friends paid her annual visit to the gynecologist. When running down the list of usual questions, the doctor asked my friend if she planned to have children. My friend, who very much wants to have children someday, responded, that yes, she does, in fact, hope to have kids, when the time is right. The doctor (a woman, no less!) proceeds to cock her head to the side and ponder this for a moment. “How old are you?” Doctor Clueless asks my friend. “Thirty-four,” responds Hopeful Friend. “Well, you might wanna think about getting started!” Doctor Clueless said with a chuckle.
“You might want to think about getting started.” When did being single after age 30 become a warzone of warnings and dangers to avoid?
“You better get married soon, or you’ll be an old maid.”
“You better hurry before all the good ones are gone.”
“New studies show that 90% of women’s eggs are gone by age 30.”
It’s like when you bump into a married friend you haven’t seen in awhile at the grocery store with her 2.5 kids, sweater set and perfect hair. She’s pushing her equally perfect grocery cart of healthy ingredients for exactly a week’s worth of perfect Martha Stewart meals. As you’re hiding your Easy Mac, Pop-Tarts and People and US magazines under the one stalk of lettuce in your cart, hoping she won’t see, she hits you with it: “So who are you seeing these days?” Not “How’s work?” or “How’s that training for the marathon going?” but an inquiry about your dating life (or lack thereof). When you casually respond “No one,” the bright smile on her face instantly turns to one of pained horror, even a slight hint of panic on your behalf, as though you just somehow projectile vomited your singleness onto her sweater set. “Oh, well…” she says, recovering quickly. “You’ll find someone. You’ll get your turn! It’s all about timing!”
If it’s truly all about timing, why is our singleness being treated like a terrorist threat? It’s like “Green – she’s dating someone. Whew! No chance of her winding up alone and desperate.” Or “Yellow – Uh-oh, another relationship just bit the dust and she’s the one that ended it! She’s 31 and choosing to be alone! Transition to Old Maid considered imminent!” Or “Red – She’s 34 and not willing to go out and mate with the nearest guy she sees even though her eggs are vanishing quicker than the Rooty Tooty Fresh & Fruity at IHOP! She’s actually taking her time and waiting for Mr. Right! DANGER! DANGER!”
I would like to propose that everyone put away the scare tactics and take a closer look at the lives of their over-30 and single counterparts. We might not have Prince Charming kneeling in front of us with a glass slipper, but we can buy our own Christian LaCroix stilettos and escort ourselves to the ball. We pay our own bills and file our own taxes and change our own oil (or we cruise on down to Jiffy Lube on Ladies Day for a half price oil change, but you get the point) and we make a million little independent choices each day without the support of a significant other. It takes guts and bravery and heart to walk a mile in a single girl’s shoes. And sometimes a fabulous pedicure.
Which brings me to an update about Hopeful Friend. Earlier today she decided to take herself down to the salon for a pedicure (probably to get over the insensitive remarks made by Doctor Clueless) and was chatting with the nail girl about her super chic condo she recently bought. When Nail Girl asked her how old she was, Hopeful Friend answered cautiously, “Thirty-four,” thinking, Oh no…here we go again. “And you’re single?” asked Nail Girl. “Yes,” answered Hopeful Friend, bracing herself. “Awesome!” responded Nail Girl with a genuine smile, reminding Hopeful Friend that yes, it is, in fact, pretty awesome.
Then Hopeful Friend took herself and her newly red toenails back to her super chic condo with an extra little jaunt in her step to see what another day of “Once Upon a Time” in the Land of Single & Fabulous had to offer.
And she lived happily ever after.