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I'm 38 and single, and I recently realized I want a child. I'm terrified I've missed my opportunity.



I'm 38 and single, and I recently realized I want a child. I'm terrified I've missed my opportunity.​

Essay by Melissa Persling

Melissa Persling smiling and staring at the camera while hiking

Courtesy of the author
  • I didn't want kids and didn't think I'd want to get married again after my divorce.
  • But recently I realized I actually do want to build a life — and a family — with someone.
  • I'm almost 39, and I'm starting to panic about whether my chance to have a child has passed.

I can still picture it. I was 20, sitting on the kitchen countertop with my legs dangling over the cabinets. He was 21, leaning against the stove of the home he hoped we'd share. We'd been dating for nearly two years and were at a standstill.

I was clinging to my dream of moving five hours away to attend the design program at the Art Institute of Seattle. He wanted a simple life with children and home-cooked meals in the little resort town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where we met in sixth grade.

That day in the kitchen, we decided to stay together, and we each gave up something to do that. I would no longer pursue design school and the big-city life I'd always dreamed of, and he'd forgo having children and a wife who prioritized homemaking. I made it clear to him that I did not see motherhood in my future and that he needed to be OK with that. Two years later, we married.

My now ex-husband wanted kids and a stay-at-home wife​

My husband thought I'd change, and I thought I could change for him. I told myself that it was silly to go after my dreams and that I should be content in the pretty mountain town where I grew up.

But I grew resentful when he asked where dinner was or complained that his gym clothes hadn't been washed. I did little to hide my disdain for our small-town life. He was a good and hardworking man, but I don't think I made him feel that way.

We were young, foolish, and sweet, thinking our love would allow us to overcome our differences. We were also very wrong.

Shortly after I turned 30, we divorced. We were both tired of sacrificing the things that were important to us for each other.

I didn't think I'd want to get married again or have kids​

I told my friends and family I'd never get married again. I needed independence, a fulfilling career, and space to chart my own course, and I didn't think marriage fit into that vision. I was content to look toward a future without a husband, children, or the trappings of a "traditional" life.

I was also in no hurry to get into a serious relationship after my divorce. I was terrified of repeating my mistakes. Nevertheless, months later I stumbled into one that lasted 7 ½ years.

He was significantly older and wasn't interested in marriage or children, and we were focused on our careers. We expected little of each other aside from fidelity. We took trips, drank nice wine, and stayed out late. Without the expectations or duties of a shared mortgage or a family, we simply enjoyed our time together. When we were apart, we did our own things. Those were great, easy years.

It was an incredibly healing relationship, and, ironically, I started to become the woman my ex-husband had wanted. I enjoyed cooking, cleaning, and caring for someone when it was my choice and when it wasn't asked of me. I'd been so preoccupied with preserving my independence and caring for myself that I hadn't realized how much I could enjoy caring for someone else and allowing them to care for me.

I changed my mind about wanting to build a family with someone​

I started to think I might want more than an easy, aimless relationship. I realized I might actually want to build a life from the ground up with someone who wanted the same thing. And while I knew that might take more work, it also felt like the type of connection worth pursuing.

I felt restless, and I couldn't ignore that what I wanted had changed. Though we were technically together, we were living our own lives. That was exactly what I had wanted and needed after my divorce, but autonomy was no longer my top priority. It felt like the relationship had run its course. He's a wonderful man, and we're still close, but we'd entered our relationship without intention or a shared vision of our future.

We broke up shortly before my 37th birthday. Over the following year and a half I dated around for the first time in my life. I broke hearts, had my own heart broken, and did in my late 30s what many people do in their 20s. I didn't know it then, but I was learning what I wanted and needed in a relationship. Ultimately, I want to build a life with another person, not simply join theirs when it's convenient.

I began to feel an incredible urgency to find the relationship and stability to see me through the second half of my life. To my amazement, I began seriously thinking about marriage and children — I hardly recognized myself.

I also began to feel selfish for spending so much time focusing solely on myself. I went from proudly proclaiming I was too self-centered to be bothered with a family to realizing there was more to life than independence and the pleasures of living for oneself. My very existence started to feel shallow and hollow.

I worry I'll end up alone, but I'm still hopeful​

Now, months after that realization and at nearly 39, I feel panicked thinking I'll be a single, childless middle-aged woman. I worry that my youthful looks will fade and that I won't be able to attract the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.

If I sound desperate, it's because I honestly do feel a little desperate. At my age, I know that creating life may not be an option for me. And I worry that men who want a family aren't looking for a woman pushing 40. I get it; I'm no longer the ideal candidate for motherhood, and it's a scary truth. But I still hope to find someone who thinks I'm the ideal partner and create our family together.

I understand the appeal of life without the constraints of marriage or children; for many years I was quite satisfied living that way. I know people can live happy, purpose-driven lives without those things. I just don't believe I'm one of those people anymore. I know now that my purpose lies in having a husband and a family. I'm meant to care for more than myself.

I'm looking for my forever person and hoping he's looking for me, too.

True Believer

There are many single women in SG who wanted to concentrate on their studies, career and social life with friends in their youth and 20s. Before they realised it, they were already in their 30s with many of the friends they used to hang out with, now engaged or married.


There are many single women in SG who wanted to concentrate on their studies, career and social life with friends in their youth and 20s. Before they realised it, they were already in their 30s with many of the friends they used to hang out with, now engaged or married.
When they wanted kids , they also want a good men. But all the good men has since got married.

Young ones (Man) don't see her as a wife. She also don't think younger man can provide for her materially.
So it's a no go for this.


Oh dear, she can just be promiscuous without protection and take her chances. I'm sure a strong independent woman like her can raise a child alone.


More like too much alcohol and sex during younger days

You are referring to the Europeans from colder places such as UK, Germany, Eastern Europe, where folks drink lots of alcohol and eat fatty meat to keep warm.

Generally those in the more warmer places like Italy and Spain ate in much more moderation, for example only drinking 1-2 glasses of wine with meals, and small portions with well balance of meat, veges and carbs.

Hence you will find the females from these warmer countries tend to keep their looks well into their early 40s, but genetically Angmos are still more proned to wrinkes due to their drier skin types.

syed putra

This is a good reason why when given the chance, a woman should get the baby as early as possible.
Making babies for women is like having sex to men. Once you got it, you are less stressed after. And can focus on your work.