As comes with the territory when you write an opinion-based column, I tend to run into my fair share of trolls.
Normally, I don't mind. It usually means I've stirred something up in them, or perhaps touched on something they are feeling a little fragile about. So when a cranky message slides into my DMs, I give it a quick once-over and then get on with my day.
However, recently, there's been a common theme to these messages. First of all, they're all from blokes, and secondly, they are all concerning my ovaries.
Yep, at least once a week I have a guy tell me that I shouldn't be so picky otherwise I'll never have children. Most put it a lot more bluntly, and many seem to genuinely get joy out of telling me I've "left it too late" and will "die a lonely, sad old woman". I've even had an ex-boyfriend say it straight to my face.
Now, I don't know if it was a full moon, or PMS, or some other such rubbish, but last Thursday night when a bloke who looked to be in his mid-50s slid into my DMs with an ESSAY telling me all the ways I am wrong and to just hurry up and choose a bloke, any bloke, because at 36 years old it's slim pickings and I've definitely left it too late for kids, I found myself getting really angry.
I fired off a doozy of a response that probably gave the bloke an early-induced heart attack and then blocked him from all forms of social media.
I wanted to move on straight away, but it seemed to be the last straw. No more, do I want to keep reading the same old message from scorned, angry men about my lack of children at the age of 36.
First of all, who said I wanted kids? Secondly, how do they know if I haven't already had my eggs frozen and thirdly, have they ever given thought to the idea that I may not be able to have kids?
Why does a lack of children seem to be the new way to verbally attack a single woman?
Days later I seemed to still be stewing on it, and I thought to myself, right from now on I am naming and shaming these guys, but deep down I know that is only a quick fix to the sting I feel in my heart at reading such hateful words.
So how do we get guys to stop throwing our life choices back in our face just because they don't fit the 'norm'?
If you look at statistics (which I often like to do), in the UK the rate of conception among women older than 40 has more than doubled since 1990, and over-35s are showing a very similar increase. However, the rate among women under the age of 25 years old has fallen sharply.
So what's that telling us? Many women are choosing, for various circumstances, to have kids much later in life. How will "Rob" cope with so many women running around town childless? Lord, let's not give him two heart attacks in a week. Stop reading Rob, your poor ticker won't cope with all these women making life choices without your blessing.
Side note, I really should state, for all those "friendly" guests at dinner parties who like to remind us of the ticking time bomb going off in our womb … we already know!
It's been mentioned A LOT over the years by experts in the media and such. We are more than aware that it's harder to conceive later in life, but do you know what doesn't help? Being constantly reminded about it.
I often think we've come so far with modern culture the notion that not every girl wants to grow up, get married and have children doesn't seem so outlandish. Sadly, I'm often thrown straight back into reality when I hear another bloke throwing unwanted advice in my direction that sounds like something straight out of the 1950s.
So next time you want to child-shame us, or nag us, or throw venom disguised as 'helpful advice' at us. Stop. Perhaps focus on your own life, ponder why you are wasting so much time concerned about someone else's, and do us a favour … flog off.