When I got pregnant at 19 and decided to keep the baby, I would joke with all my 30-something friends that at least I didn’t have to worry about my biological clock. Back then, the talk at all social events among working women was the biological clock issue and whether they were going to be able to meet someone and have kids in time before it went off. Some of them did. Some of them didn’t. But the truth is my biological clock kept ticking right up until I had my third child at age 44.
I distinctly remember the moment my biological clock stopped ticking. I was sitting with my 1-month-old new baby in our kitchen, and my other two children were there. I think the Soccer World Cup Game was playing in the background. And I remember thinking, “Finally, everyone who is supposed to be here is here, and I am done having kids.” Silence. No more ticking. I was 45.
But about three years later, I started hearing ticking again. (OK, people, I am talking metaphorical ticking, not actual ticking.) And it was louder and more urgent than any biological clock ticking I’d ever heard. Yes, I was in my late 40s. Yes, I was starting to enter what my mother used to call “that time of life”—and she wasn’t talking about a party. But no one had told me about this ticking. Yes, my women friends would talk about hot flashes and not being able to sleep…but no one said anything about this new clock I started feeling. So I started calling it the Life Clock.
What is the Life Clock? Well, let’s see, I’m 49 now. In even the best-case scenario, I am halfway done with my life. I’m now on the other side of the trajectory of the arc of life. All the simple questions I had as a child have been answered: Whom will I marry? How many kids will I have? What will I do for a living? Where will I live? What will I look like when I am all grown up? The Life Clock whispers that harder questions must be answered: What do I want to do before I die? What do I want my legacy to be? Am I really happy here and now, and if not, what would make me happy? What’s really important? Who am I really?
I remember that the first article I ever wrote and got paid for was about a doctor in Scotland who studied eccentricity (it was David Weeks, by the way). His findings were that eccentrics lived a lot longer than “normal” folks. I got to interview him with his Scottish brogue over the phone. Men, he said, became eccentrics right away. Women, he found, waited until their mid- to late-40s to become eccentrics. He explained that they waited until their children were born and wifely duties were primarily fulfilled. I was, at the young age of 20-something, already showing signs of eccentricity, so I remember thinking, “Uh-oh!” Which, by the way, was also what I said to my husband after I read the first few chapters of Dr. Christiane Northrup’s The Wisdom of Menopause.
So…here I am, somewhat at the beginning again—the beginning of a whole new phase of life—where I don’t know how it will end up or how soon, but I know it will be some sort of adventure and perhaps romance. It’s exciting, actually. Thrilling would not be too strong a word. And I can’t help but wonder why I haven’t heard of this before. Do other women feel it? Do you?
I’m not sure where this Life Clock will lead me, but I will definitely keep you posted.