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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Child's play

George Clooney is a first-time dad at 56; how would we react to a first-time mom of that vintage?

It’s time to uncork the champagne and pass the cigars around. Amal and George Clooney are now proud parents of twins. The Clooneys released a statement to announce their arrival, which declared: “This morning Amal and George welcomed Ella and Alexander Clooney into their lives. Ella, Alexander and Amal are all healthy, happy and doing fine. George is sedated and should recover in a few days.”

Oh how we laughed! George Clooney, the Hollywood A-lister who spent his entire adult life telling us that he had no intention of getting married and zero interest in having children, was now the father of twins. Twins! Imagine that!

Isn’t it amazing and wonderful how life turns out? The lifelong commitment-phobe who really didn’t want kids at all, was now happily married to the hyper-intelligent and super-beautiful human rights lawyer, Amal, and was now a father at the grand old age of 56. And a father to twins, no less. And despite the jokey press release to mark their birth, he was completely on board for the thrills of late-life parenthood.

“We are really happy and really excited. It’s going to be an adventure,” George was quoted as saying earlier. “We’ve sort of embraced it all with arms wide open.”

Cue indulgent smiles and sighs and cries of “Awww, that is so sweet.”

And I agree entirely. It totally is.

But let’s pause here and conduct a little thought experiment. Let’s assume, for the purposes of this argument, that George Clooney is a woman called Georgina. And that Georgina spent her 20s, her 30s, her 40s, and the first years of her 50s, telling anyone who cared to ask that she really didn’t want to settle down. No marriage and children for her, thank you very much. Yes, kids were awfully cute and all that, but they really weren’t for her. She would much rather adopt a pig (yes, quite literally) than have a child.

Fair enough. That would be Georgina’s choice, and more power to her. Motherhood is not for every woman. And it takes a brave woman to announce that she is happy in her child-free state, and sees no reason to change it just because society expects her to go forth and multiply.

But then, life throws her a curveball. As she enters her 50s, Georgina meets an amazing young man in his mid 30s, who sweeps her off her feet. Suddenly marriage seems like the natural culmination of this relationship and children seem like a logical end-game.

Unlike George, who has a faithful buddy in biology, Nature is not Georgina’s friend. At her age, assisted reproduction is the only way to go, so we will draw a discreet veil over proceedings at this stage. Let’s just say that a year or so after their wedding, 56-year-old Georgina becomes mom to a pair of adorable twins.

Cue indulgent smiles and sighs and cries of, “Awww, that is so sweet!”

Right? No, I don’t think so.

The world and its mother would be excoriating Georgina for her utter lack of responsibility, her complete selfishness, not to mention her disgusting disregard for the laws of Nature.

Where did she get off thinking that it was fine to have a child when she was in her sixth decade? What kind of mother could she possible make at that age? Instead of indulging her selfish needs, she should have been thinking about what would be the best for her children – and that would be not to have them at all.

She would not have the energy to run around her kids as they grew into active little toddlers. She would embarrass them by being mistaken for their grandmother at the school gates. She would be an old woman by the time they went off to college. And she would be lucky to be alive to see them married or even with kids of their own.

How utterly irresponsible of Georgina to waste her entire reproductive life avoiding pregnancy, only to forcibly embrace motherhood in her menopausal years. How selfish to condemn kids to being brought up by an elderly mom who wouldn’t have the energy to cope with their childish demands. How awful to give birth to children she may well not be around to see grow up.

Yes, I can already hear the clacking of keyboards as countless columns saying just this sort of thing are dashed off in newspapers and magazines across the world. Bad Georgina. What was she thinking?

But luckily for Georgina, she is not, in fact, a woman. She is a man called George Clooney. And George gets to change his mind about having kids no matter what age he is. Nature is on George’s side; even in his mid 50s, he can step up and have a biological child (make that two at one go; with or without the help of IVF). And nobody would dare suggest that George would make a bad father because he is in his sixth decade.

George is handsome. George is rich. George is virile. George is strong. George has boundless energy. George can cope with twins. Hell, you could even throw quintuplets at him, and he wouldn’t blink.

That Georgina woman, though? Not so much!

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