Family Formation: I’m Falling Behind…Or Am I?

Well, here it is: August 2023. Which means I’m a month away from September 2023, a benchmark in my life: the month I’ll be the same age my father was when I was born. Unless I become the spear counterpart of Ginger Rogers’s character in “Bachelor Mother” in the next seven weeks I’m definitely not going to have a baby in my arms by then. There are no prospects in sight for me that would even amount to a sweetheart to take on a date, much less conceive a child with. Makes me feel like I’m falling behind compared to where I always wanted to be in life…

On the flip side, though, by another benchmark I’m not doing so grimsomely at all: my mother’s father was 41 when she was born. The month I’ll be the same age he was when he became her father: August 2035. That’s 12 years from now. Will I be in position to have a baby by then? Honestly…yes, by all indications.

Over the course of the next 12 years I’m actually very optimistic about my chances of earning a lot more money in business and growing my portfolio enough to extricate myself from my current digs to somewhere I’d like much better, and to be able to afford to bring up a child how I’d like to. I’ll also be in prime position to find my special someone, my dream girl, but even without her I should have enough financial means to have a test-tube baby, so either way, my train is coming in by that point in my life.

It might seem silly, but that makes me feel like I’m not such a total failure in life: I could still live up to the benchmark my grandfather set. And from what I’ve seen and heard he did very well as a father, certainly much better than my own did despite the latter being over a decade younger.

Admittedly it is slightly unusual to only start a family in your forties, especially if you’re resorting to test-tube methods, but it’s not considered strange at all in contexts like Hollywood. And just guess what I mean by “somewhere I’d like much better”? 😉 Where I’m planning to go by twelve years hence, I may well fit right in!

Indeed, in settings like this, it’s unremarkable for men to have children well past 40. There are cases like Donald Trump (who was 59 when Barron was born) or even Al Pacino (who recently welcomed a new child at the age of 83), where they keep having more children into old age, but there’s no shortage of examples of men who became first-time fathers in their fifties or even sixties.

I for one don’t care to wait that long; I’d like to enjoy having kids when I have some youthful vitality left in me, in which case forties is already pushing it. On the flip side, my thirties would be pushing it (past the breaking point) with regard to my financial (and romantic) means, so in my case the intersection of the two all but mandates I have a family on grandfather’s timetable: forties, most likely early forties.

In addition, I have no less than two direct close ancestors on the other side of the family who just dropped dead in their fifties (“dying suddenly” was a thing long before the COVID-19 vaccine, folks…), so if I wait until age 50 or later I might not make it at all. If I have a child at 41, by contrast, even if I do drop dead at their ages said child will have hit the double digits by then, and be at least mostly out of childhood. I don’t think it’s likely that’ll happen to me; most of the rest of the family lived to 80 or even 90, but I think that history is reason enough to accelerate my plans for having a family to around age 40 if at all feasible.

That said, the thought crosses my mind today that I might rather enjoy the path of having kids relatively late in life, later than around age 40. Not being a first-time parent, mind you; that’s all set for my early forties. But after that point is reached, might I keep on with having kids for a long time to come? I do want to have a big family, at least six kids, and spacing them out decently would suggest that I’d have my sixth child perhaps around age 50 anyway, so I’ve already penciled in that I’m going to have newborns throughout my forties. What about after my forties?

I’ll likely have more than enough money to help out with any other deficiencies I might have by then, and looking over the arguments against having kids deep into midlife, the biggest showstopper seems to be that they won’t be out of the house, that you won’t be an empty-nester, until well into old age, if ever. Now that I think about it, I don’t feel like I even particularly want to become an empty-nester. My own grandparents raised me in large measure when they were in their seventies, and they did alright, and in all honesty the thought of not having any kids of my own around anymore when I’m that age isn’t all that appealing to me.

So how would that work? Gaming it out, if I have my first child at 41, they’ll reach the age of majority when I’m 59. If I have my last child at 50, they’ll reach the age of majority when I’m 68. That’s old, honestly a bit grandfatherly, but not that old. A child I’d have at age 60 would of course reach the age of majority when I’m 78. So they’d be in early to middle childhood when I’m in my sixties, and I’d have a preteen and teenager in the house when I’m in my seventies. I know a lot of you will think I’m nuts, but it actually sounds kinda nice now that I think about it.

Most of my relatives started to go downhill once they got deep into their seventies, so a child reaching college age when I’m 78 might be as much as I’d be comfortable pushing it. So maybe I stop at around age 60? Of course to make a final decision I’d have to see how well I was tracking in the aging process compared to the rest of the family, which at this point is an unknown; so far, at age 29, I’m not too far off from the average in the family tree, but that’s not much to go on, so god knows.

Nevertheless, extending the timeline out to around 20 years of having kids would easily allow me to expand the size of my brood up to double digits; a baby every year would give me a total of twenty kids. When I look at it that way, the question switches from “oh, thank goodness I can still achieve my dream of lots of love and a big family!” to “do I even want that many kids?”, a rather more pleasant conundrum.

Still, I think the world would be a lot better off with a lot more people like me in it, especially if said people got half of their bloodline from a girl who was born drop-dead gorgeous, genius-level smart, and artistically inclined. So often do I wish for the race of the future to be all that…

Well, you know what Napoleon said: if you want something done right you’ve gotta do it yourself. Why not have twenty children, if I worry so about the likes of Elon Musk spawning while I’m left out in the cold? And besides, it might be just the ticket to making my midlife and old age not such a grim journey. I might have missed my father’s benchmark, but nevertheless, my day is coming. The path of the Hollywood Father awaits…

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