Friday, April 10, 2009

My biological alarm clock tolls for me

Lisa Belkin of Motherlode wrote an interesting piece in the NYTimes Sunday magazine--and yes, it does take me four days to finally get to the first story in the magazine--about men's biological clocks.

Reading between the lines, she posits that women's biological clocks are a result of the knowledge that as they get older, it becomes more difficult to have healthy babies and that men lack such a clock because they lack that same knowledge about themselves.

In our house, the conversation took a slightly different course. Mama, who is seven years younger than I, didn't want to rush into having children because she wanted to be ready and also because she wanted to do some things while she still could. I, who had already had the chance seven years ago to do those things and get ready, was more anxious to start having kids.

A large part of that reason is my unshakeable feeling that I'm going to die well before the average expected lifespan, which leads to a strong impatience to get on with life while I'm still here to live it. This feeling comes not from my history of self-injury, but from the fact that Dad died before turning 60. It's reinforced by the knowledge that his dad died prematurely also.

Never mind that they died of unrelated causes--Dad of a brain tumor, his father of a heart attack that was possibly the result of a weakened heart from scarlet fever when he was a boy--this is a feeling, not a logical thought. It is a purely emotional response to the greatest sorrow of my life. It is the scar tissue that Dad's death deposited on my heart, and that I'll carry to my own grave.

Knowing it's there, and what it is, I try to keep it from interfering in my life as much as possible, but sometimes this feeling still has its way with me. Such was the case when we were discussing how soon to have kids. Mama was, as always, right that we should wait--I'm a better father for us having waited--but it was hard for me to let go.

I wanted our children to be as old as possible before I died, and selfishly, I wanted to spend as long as possible with our children before I died. My biological clock wasn't just tick-tocking--the alarm was going off 24/7. Reading about this research reinforces my feelings in only the slightest way. It's hard for any force to be stronger than the instincts driven by knowledge of my own mortality.

But I'm glad that people are doing the research to prove what we must surely understand instinctively--men age just as women do.

Subscribe to the Bradstein feed--Vorsprung durch Technik!


  1. Anonymous10:35 PM

    Wanting to be with your kids as long as possible isn't selfish, it's love.

  2. I always thought it was your inclination toward self injury, and reinjury.

  3. KMoo: We age, we don't grow up.

    Amama: Not all selfishness is bad.

    CAGirl: That too.