Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

I can hear it, ever so softly in the background. Soothing, like the metronome that kept time to my brief 10-year-old attempts at piano playing.090603_house_picket

But this metronome is keeping a biological beat to the tune of procreation.

The ticking grew louder this week as I visited my oldest brother and his family. He and his wife have a house, a cat and 2.5 kids. The yet-to-be-named male decimal is now 11 ounces of prenatal joy.

Brother and I grew up in a Midwestern cornfield, population 1,100. We both chose to leave.

Eventually, I found myself in Raleigh. And by found myself, I mean I discovered who I was and what I wanted from life. Answer: Urbanity. If I don’t stay here, I’m moving to a bigger city.

The town my brother lives in, population 35,000, is not in a cornfield. But it’s close. He works weekends, so I hung out with him and his baby while mom and older daughter went to work and school.

I felt like an anthropologist as I watched them go through life for two days. It seemed as though it gave me a glimpse of the life I don’t have yet, the one waiting for me down the bend.

Their schedule revolves around children. The cute baby needs a diaper change, a bottle, a nap. The 9-year-old needs help with homework, discipline, a ride to soccer game. The family spends evenings at home, cooking dinner, bathing children and then a little TV.

My path involves going out to bars many weeknights. Weekends include art exhibits, the beach, hanging out with my boyfriend, dinner at restaurants for most meals and time spent alone doing whatever I want, whenever I want.

I said the ticking sound grew louder. My nieces are ridiculously adorable. Cuter than a bug’s ear, as my grandma says. I look at the baby’s big eyes, listen to her impish laugh and want one of my own.

But as I sit here back in Raleigh, I’m enjoying the peace and quiet. There are no talking children around. My boyfriend and I got Chinese for dinner, and I’m sipping a beer, watching the NHL playoffs. Ah, it’s grand to be selfish.

I hear a lot of women of many ages complain about being single. They want marriage, they want children. I say, “What’s the big rush?” If being 28 means having my brother’s life, then I don’t feel 28.

Yes, I know the health risk associated with having children too late. I don’t want to be 60 when my kids graduate high school.

But I’m turning off the metronome for now. My brother seems happy, which is the most important thing. And there’s something to be said for that family life. But until I get there, I’m going happy with what I’ve got — a beer in my hand and a cute boyfriend, who is about to give me a massage.

Ticking? I don’t hear anything.