Celeb mum of three, Sara Cox, discusses the persistent myth that theres a perfect time to begin parenthood. I read a great magazine article at the weekend and it spoke to various men in the public eye whod all become dads at different times in their lives. From young n bouncy 20-something dad Tony Parsons, to the sweet calmness of John Simpsons more, shall we say, distinguished, 60-something Pa. Each dad felt theirs was the perfect time for them to procreate. The younger dads were just ready sooner and though, as in Tonys case, they were a bit skint, they did have youth on their side. The middle dads took a bit longer to feel ready but then eventually got there and the older dads revelled in their increased patience and had a heightened sense of living in the moment and cherishing the time they spent with their young ones. The piece never promised to scientifically prove when is the perfect time to throw yourself head-first into the deep and often choppy sea of fatherhood, because theres no such thing as the perfect time to become a dad. And I think its the same for mums. When to start a family is such a personal decision. Granted, sometimes ol Mother Nature leaps out from behind a bush (sorry, inappropriate analogy) with an unexpected little bundle either way too early or way too late, pre-GCSE or not long off HRT. But for those of us somewhere in the middle, we hopefully try to just go with the most potent and animal instinct known to humankind: the urge to go forth and multiply. Ovulation dates will be studied, pills will be binned, candles lit and La Senza plundered. Let the games begin! Whoda thunk as a young lass that one of the best moments in your life wouldnt be getting a pony, marrying George Michael or blowing your entire spends in The Body Shop? Oh no, one of the most amazing moments of your entire existence comes from weeing on a stick. Crazy, eh? And for the very blessed, the stick says yes as do the next six (just to be sure) and you become very good at weeing into small pots and generally weeing more than youve ever thought possible. A pregnant woman could probably fill the Leeds and Liverpool canal with the contents of her bladder. In fact, all that fluid could be put to good use: think Willy Wonkas chocolate river meets a urine-powered theme park (log flume anyone?). For many, of course, the stick doesnt say yes and, in fact, barks a resounding no every time. And my heart breaks for those who have to embark on an exhausting, cruel, painful, sometimes expensive quest to fulfil their need, their desire, their absolute ache for a baby. I have friends whove been in such situations. Ive had to tell them my happy news about my pregnancies knowing they knew how bad I felt about telling them. Theyve been self-conscious in their reaction, not wanting to seem too thrilled like they were over-compensating and Ive naturally downplayed my joy. Since then though, Im pleased to report one couple have gone on to have a beautiful baby boy to complete their little family and the other couple are well past the 20-week scan stage for the first time, so fingers, toes and everything else crossed. I also have friends who, after more than a decade of heartbreak, have finally had a baby. Shes the more experienced side of 50, hes slightly younger, and the arrival of their boy has been beautiful and miraculous, but more than that its just been right, regardless of age. This couple met and fell in love a little later than most so had less time to crack on with the family thing but thankfully, they have a happy, if statistically unusual, ending. At the other end of the scale, some women like to knock out a small gaggle of offspring in their early 20s, then, once the kids can safely cross the road/tie their shoes/make toast by themselves, they can throw themselves back into their career. Jonathan Ross gorgeous flame-haired (copyright every tabloid paper) missus Jane Goldman had the first of her three kids at the tender age of 21 and now, at 39, is a hotshot screenwriter but with less of the guilt and parsnip puree-smudged skirts her peers with younger families probably endure. Each to their own. I know that at 21 I could not have coped with raising a family. I could barely tie my own shoes nemind teach a child how to do theirs. So if you feel youre too young, you probably are, but youd still cope, and probably surprise yourself with how well. If you think youre too old, the same applies. And if youre somewhere in the middle but waiting for the perfect time, theres no such thing.