I've been learning an interesting lesson lately. One that you never read about in Cosmo or Essence, and one that my grandmother and mother never passed down to me. The lesson of the male biological clock.
If you Google "biological clock", you'll find a variety of articles expounding on the abysmal fertility rates of women in their 30s, complete with panic-inducing statistics on egg viability, birth weights, conception times, and other things that are scary as hell when the big 3-0 is on the horizon. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and you may find 1 or 2 little articles reminding us of something that isn't usually shared: Men have biological clocks, too. And they tick. Loudly at times.
A few months ago, I was hanging out with some university friends in between the ceremony and reception of an old friend's wedding. We were catching up on all the weddings and baby showers we had been to in the last few years (which seemed to be bi-monthly at least). One friend, a guy who moved back to the Caribbean shortly after graduation, filled us in on his girfriend. She was beautiful, she was incredible, he was ready to make her his wife (and has all plans to). However, he almost sheepishly admitted that even more than his desire to walk down the aisle, he was DYING to be a father. To see his face light up while talking about what his son or daughter would look like and imagining going to school recitals and sporting events was amazing. The room fell silent. Most of us women admitted we had never heard a guy speak like that before. Our friend was ready for a family, and couldn't wait to have it.
Since then, it might be a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, but everywhere I go, I see and hear men who can't wait for children of their own. This past weekend, I went to an annual holiday get-together, and the fact that I chose to have a Sprite before I reached for some Hennessey became the talk of the night amongst the dudes. They spun my choice of drink into taking turns to feel my stomach for an (imaginary) fetus and discussing how many we'd need for a viable basketball team (since I'm 6ft and Homieloverfriend is 6' 3"). It was hilarious, and was the type of convo that if held by women, would be stereotypically regarded as "women talking crazy". I knew in all seriousness though, that when that time comes, I would be in good hands with my friends.
Even Hubby (don't worry boo, I'm not putting all your business out in the street) has been talking some tings lately. He works with children day in and day out (and has more maternal instincts than I do, which makes me jealous), but has been mentioning how much he'll love trading in his class of 20 for one of his own. Usually men are warned about fending off overzealous wives who want to have children, and women learn to perfect that nervous laugh that you give your mother-in-law when she asks you when you're getting started - but no one ever talks about what to do when he's ready to go and you're not...or maybe you are...or maybe not yet...or maybe soon?
I already see where this post could go. We could discuss the unrepentant pressures that society places on women to hurry up and have kids before their eggs dry up. We could muse about how society assumes all women even want to have children. We could talk about how women have the never ending conundrum of "choosing" between going after career goals or family goals, and the age-old question: Can we really have it all? I don't feel the need to go there right now. I've simply been finding it endearing and intriguing to witness this shift amongst my man friends. Man friends who express genuine excitement in that next step in life. Man friends who hope "the baby" (real or imagined) has his hairline and her eyes. Man friends who are starting to say "Yeah, I could get used to this" while holding a friends' newborn. Man friends who are actively looking for the right woman to build a family with.
If you've been programmed to think that all men run from responsibility, prefer to wear the "deadbeat dad" cape, and don't take care of the 17 children they already have, stop it. You're smarter than that. And if you still can't believe it, take my word for it. Good men still exist, and one day you may be pulling the cover over your head to block out the clock ticking coming from their side of the bed. Just for a little while :)
What do you think about the 'male biological clock'? Are you a guy who is starting to pine for parenthood? Are you a woman who's experienced this with your partner? Why do you think we don't hear as many concerns about male fertility as we do for women?