This post is part of a series about my own personal dating experiences before I met and married Marc. I may be a newlywed now, but just a few years ago I never thought I would be anything but single, and I hated it. When I was struggling I didn’t feel like there was anyone who could truly understand. I was single, I didn’t want to be single, but I also wanted to be happy in my present life. My goal with this series is to give people who feel the way I felt hope, no matter where their lives might take them.
When I was in high school and felt like one of the only girls who wasn’t dating someone, I had an epiphany. For some reason, at just around 16 or 17 years old I realized a boyfriend or husband would never be a given. So, I needed to make sure I had a career that I loved, of which I was proud, and that would keep me financially stable.
Of course, at the time I also thought I wanted that career to be acting. Which we all know is a super easy industry for achieving success and money (eye roll). But I was also convinced I’d be one of the .01 percent that would actually make it. And I’d be nominated for an Oscar (double eye roll).
But, hey, at least I had a dream that didn’t involve a man!
Or did I? Because the entire time I was plotting my career I also had this super confident thought in the back of my mind: I’ll have a career I love even after I quickly get married and start a family. For some reason I was completely convinced I would have all of those things, no matter what.
Why is that? Probably because we are conditioned from a very young age that it is our natural path to grow up, get married, and have children. And whether or not I realized it at the time, it was what I believed I should do.
So, I grew up and watched my little career grow and take me all around the country (now as a sports anchor and reporter. I gave up the acting pipe dream when I was a sophomore in college). But as the years passed without a boyfriend I slowly felt the panic creep in. I mean, you need a boyfriend in order to have a husband in order to have all the kids. It’s the way of the world! And I wasn’t even dating anyone.
Right after I turned 28 my situation really hit me. I had just moved from Boston to San Francisco and was essentially starting over yet again. I was almost 30 and nowhere close to having a boyfriend. So how was I supposed to have those children?
I had never set exact timelines on my life, but I started to realize that it didn’t matter. In many ways I was already completely off course from “the way things are supposed to be”.
By the time I was 31 and living in New York City children were all I could think about. Around then I read a magazine article about a single career woman in Manhattan who chose to freeze her eggs. The idea was that it would reduce the urgency to FIND THE PERFECT MAN RIGHT NOW.
And to be honest, it was then that I made an unofficial plan to do the same thing. The only problem? Freezing your eggs is freaking expensive! At the time I was making a salary that would have been considered more than decent in any city other than New York. As it was I still lived paycheck to paycheck and spent nearly everything I made on rent, food, cocktails, and clothing.
So, I waited.
And I thought some more.
Maybe it would all still workout. Maybe I would still find the guy and have the kids. Maybe when I finally decided to do it on my own I’d get lucky with IVF and a sperm donor. Maybe I could adopt.
I thought about these options all the time. I mean, all the time. Because, how was I supposed to be considered a true woman if I didn’t produce children? And now the fact that there seemed to be no decent men on the planet was keeping me from achieving my life’s purpose! How was that fair?
After a few years of this mental torture, I watched from the far sidelines as an acquaintance of mine went through the whole process of having a biological child on her own. It was incredibly inspiring! She did it by herself! The final result was the cutest little boy and I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness for her.
But then I started to think about everything she had to go through, without a partner to help, to get that happy ending. It made me respect her even more, but suddenly I wasn’t sure if that was actually what I wanted.
I began to unpack all the reasons I really wanted a child: giving unconditional love, bringing a human being into this world, seeing that world through new eyes, being depended on by a little person, and just generally being someone’s mom.
But the more I thought about it, I realized that list was incomplete. What I really wanted was: unconditional love given by my partner and me, bringing a human being into this world with my partner, seeing that world through new eyes along with my partner, my partner and I being depended on by a little person, and just generally being someone’s parent along with my partner.
Every reason I wanted a child was because I would be doing it with someone else. My husband. I didn’t really want to do it alone. Because to me, having a child was a product of finding that partner who completes your world and makes you want to do crazy things like have a human together.
That’s when I finally accepted that, for me, maybe kids wouldn’t be part of my life’s purpose. I always reserved the right to change my mind, and I still hoped the possibility existed that I would have a child with a partner one day. But having a child was no longer my driving force.
I calmed down a bit after that. I no longer worried about finding money to freeze my eggs or trying to make every so-so first date seem amazing because I felt I had to get a boyfriend immediately. I still wanted a relationship, but the timing didn’t seem quite so urgent anymore.
Of course, this is just what I realized was best for me. I one-hundred percent support any woman who wants to have a child on her own through whatever means she believes is best. I will stand up and cheer for her every single day.
I simply found that for me, it was important to realize why I so badly wanted a child. And if I had decided it was that I needed to be a mom no matter what, then I could have begun charting a path that would get me there without a husband or partner.
Simply put, you are in charge of your life. And as soon as we can determine our motivations in that life, it helps make navigating it all a little easier.
But there’s a plot twist in all of this! Now that I am married the question of kids still remains. Will we have them? I don’t know.
So, even if you do begin following that ingrained life path of “grow up, get married…”, it doesn’t necessarily end with “have children.” Because whether you’re single or in a relationship there is only one should that matters.
I should do whatever works for me.