If you are called to marry, you might be called to marry at any age. There is no age limit to marriage. You might fall in love in the sandbox and marry your lifelong love at 18. You might squander your youth on completely unsuitable characters and then marry a pious millionaire when you're 42. You might live a life of blissful solitude until 70 when you marry your best friend's widower. There is no age limit to marriage and there's no saying what can happen in this crazy world.
Not so having babies, not so. Sadly, there is an age limit to having babies.
Now, I know what you're going to say. I too studied the Bible in school from the age of six. I too know that both Sarah, wife of Abraham, and Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah, had babies when they were well past their prime. In addition, I sneak peeks at the headlines of the Daily Mail when my husband isn't looking, so I know that from time to time, in China, Uzbekistan and rural parts of Italy, a sixty-something gives birth to a bouncing baby. It ain't over until it's over, and sometimes it ain't over when you think it's over. So again there's no saying what can happen in this crazy world.
However, let's face facts: in general, it's harder to get pregnant after forty than before forty. So if you get married in the 35-45 year old region, you know that, barring miracles, you are in Last Chance for Baby territory.
So anyway, I have had three baby dreams in the past two weeks. This is not bizarre in itself since I am given to lurid, colourful dreams with plots and zany characters and love affairs.
I once dreamed I went back in time and met Gilbert and Frances Chesterton, and Uncle Gilbert was very excited that I had come from the future, and he wondered where he would be in the 1940s, and I was sad because, of course, he would die before then.
I once dreamed I was in a beautiful, chaste and doomed love affair with HRH the Prince Edward, and the Queen tried to bribe me to end it. She actually wrote out the cheque before me, and I was sad because I revere the Queen and, besides that, it is terrible to be bought off by the mother of one's beloved.
And last night I dreamed I had made B.A. late for Latin Mass, and when we finally got to church, it was a different church and there was some high-minded lecture going on in a hall that had a big environmentalist poster warning us against "The Ten Ton Holiday". The Ten Tons represented our carbon footprint after vacationing somewhere warm, sunny and poor. (I blame the current virulent mural outside St. John's on Princes Street, Edinburgh for this dream.)
But I am not given to anxiety dreams about babies, so I find it significant that I am having them now.
The first baby dream was set in my parent's Toronto home, and I had been handed a baby. I was worried about this baby because he hadn't been baptized yet, and I felt he ought to be baptized, and maybe I should do it. However, this wasn't my baby, and so I didn't have the authority. Anyway, I put this baby down to sleep in a handy laundry basket in my mother's room, and he disappeared.
The second baby dream was even more stressful. I was sitting in a minivan that was careening down the highway. Somebody handed me a baby. I was worried about just holding a baby in my arms while on the highway because in cars babies are supposed to be in car seats. Then I noticed that the baby was gone. I looked around frantically. Where was the baby? He had to be somewhere. On the seat? No. On the floor? No. And then I saw that there was a great hole in the side of the minivan under the window, and I realized that the baby must have fallen through it.
The third baby dream was less stressful, but more personal since in this dream I was actually pregnant. But I think I was only a few weeks pregnant because I dithered over whether I should actually tell anybody. And then I woke up, so I stopped worrying.
So there you go. Although I cannot be in perfect solidarity with the Single, being Married, I can still be in perfect solidarity with those who have no children and feel anxious about it. We are in the same minivan, careening down the highway, wondering where the baby has gone.