Art imitating life, there was naturally a precedent for these plot lines. Most of us have had that moment of panic in our single lives, or a wistful, wine-fueled evening when a Platonic friend is booked and guaranteed for a time down the road when we anticipate it’ll be time to settle down, lover or no.
If I took the plunge and made an actual pact in my relative youth, I can’t remember now, though it’s entirely possible, seeing as I was chronically single, lonely and panicked about the future. I guess I would have, naively, set my expiry date at 30, that magical age when, in our teens and 20s, we imagine we all automatically become ”old.” If I had any suitable friends waiting in the wings, they must have panicked themselves as I turned 29 with no match in sight. Luckily, as much for them as for me, I met my husband later that year.
The web is full of testaments from people (women, mainly) who’ve entered into a Ted and Robin pact with a friend. Half the time the deadline is an unrealistic 25 or so; the other a more legitimate 40. Who knows if any of these couples take the pact seriously, or are committed enough to follow through. Most are likely already off the market. Do you even know anyone who’s reached the deadline as desperate as when they first set it?
I do. Actually, scratch that. My friend was neither desperate nor shopping for a dress to wear at her anti-fairy tale wedding. But she did enter into a baby pact with a dear, old male friend who wanted children as urgently. And last month their twin boys arrived.
For this friend, the Baby Pact was the next best thing to true love, marriage and parenthood. When she made it in her 30s beautiful, loaded and at the top of her professional game she couldn’t bring herself to go the donor route, despite the fact that her home, Denmark, produces the world’s most popular sperm by a mile. Her co-conspirator, a friend who had flirted with her in the past but long ago moved on, lives close by, with a career that ties him down to home, and hopes to share in the baby’s upbringing. [tagbox tag=”single mother”]
So far, he’s visited my friend and her little boys every week, supplied them with essentials, shopped and cooked for them and has set up a fund that will help pay for an au pair and education. These things my friend doesn’t truly need; it’s the ongoing support that has pushed the project from unconventional at best into the realm of normalcy.
Talk to me in a year, but for the time being the Baby Pact seems almost enviable. What’s a father figure if not a provider; someone with whom a mother share the joys and anxieties of child-rearing; and, for a child, someone to look up to for guidance. This man pledges to be all three.
And as many married mothers can attest, a husband doesn’t always tick all the boxes.