A long, personal post. Maybe too long and maybe too personal but I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time. And this post may come off as a little angry… but that could not be further from the truth. I’m just stating how it is to be a single gal these days and how apparently, me being okay that way is maybe a little incomprehensible to some.
“Don’t worry, you still have plenty of time.”
“You aren’t getting any younger and it just doesn’t get any easier.”
“You’ll find that perfect person, just wait.”
“The older you are, the more complications you could possibly have. You better hurry up.”
“I know the right person is just around the corner.”
And the best one…
“Are you wanting to be an old maid?”
These are a sampling of conversational statements that I hear fairly regularly. Platitudes that cover up, or not so much, the concern they have for me. Being a single individual who is 36 with no children makes me a walking target for these kinds of comments. I know people mean well, I know they care and they want what is best for me, but honestly, it can sometimes make a girl feel like she’s not measuring up somehow. That since I don’t have a husband or children that my life isn’t full and complete and it doesn’t even remotely compare to one who does have those things in their life. And though these well-intended people do want what’s best for me, they really want what THEY think is best for me. And what’s best for one, isn’t necessarily best for another.
Society doesn’t help this image of what THEY think is best for me. It’s a little tough on a single lady out there. My own church, a place where one should always feel welcome, doesn’t offer any activities or classes geared to my age group. You are either college, or just right out of college, or you are part of the mature crowd. Unless of course you have a family. Then you can participate in family activities… and truly feel a part of the action. I have been single all of my life and yet have found myself sitting in as part of a married couples class on Sunday mornings… because there is really no where else for me to go. This is not to church bash, I love my church. I love the people that make up the church family. But the truth is that I don’t fit in there. And it’s not just at church, it’s other places too. If you don’t have the American dream, the house with the white picket fence, a spouse and 2.5 children, you seem a little less in the eyes of society. If you aren’t a mother who carts her kids to soccer practice and piano lessons… well, forget it.
I pay higher taxes, though I only have a single income. I am wholly responsible for everything in my life. My car breaks down, I figure it out. My lights burn out, I change them. My garbage disposal dies, I fix it. I coordinate bills and insurance and mortgage and appointments and lawn care and housework all on my own. There’s no one else to do it. No one celebrates my milestones because in the eyes of society my milestones of a new job or a new house aren’t quite the same as a wedding and baby on the way. No one showers me with presents. Heck, I’m lucky to sometimes get a congratulations. Social media does help that a little, I can post an update and folks, from the convenience of their phone can wish me well in my endeavors.
I’m not complaining, I’m not asking for pity, I’m just stating facts. We celebrate the things that seem “appropriate” and “normal” while ignoring the individual successes that many of us singles out here are accomplishing each and every day. But I digress…
As a little girl, you know what I dreamed about? No, not the white dress and the husband to be or motherhood as many little girls do. I didn’t plan my wedding, every detail, by the age of 12. I never even thought I’d be a mom. I instead dreamed about horses and taking care of animals and I dreamed of all the opportunity and options I had for possible career paths, I dreamed of all the places I’d visit on this great big earth and I dreamed of helping people. That’s what I dreamed about. I wasn’t boy-crazy, I wasn’t eagerly waiting to start a family. I didn’t even know if I ever wanted one to be honest… even as a young adult I felt different. You see, even then I was an independent sort. I preferred my own company to that of others.
This is not to say that I don’t love my friends and family and cherish our times together. But what it does say is that I’m content to be alone. I’m happiest there. I feel more in tune with myself and with God there.
Have I had relationships? Yes. I have. And I may have another before this life is over. I’m certainly not against them. But if I don’t, or if it doesn’t end in marriage and kids… I’m seriously and incredibly okay with that. Do I think sometimes that it might be nice to share the load with someone? Yes. I do. But from what I hear from my friends and family who have spouses… I might very well end up carrying the load on my own anyway, and worse, multiplied by two or three or four if children come along. Have I made poor decisions in past relationships? Yes. Most definitely. And have I built walls around my heart so very thick that it would take an act of God to tear them down? Yes. Probably so.
I see it this way though, I believe in my God. I believe He has a plan for my life and I also truly feel that He overcomes everything. So if He really wanted me to be a wife and mother at this time in my life, He would have already arranged that and I would have not been able to stop it, no matter how thick or high the walls are around my heart or how many stupid decisions I make. Because I’m not married or have children now, does it mean God doesn’t have that in store for me? No, I think He can flip my world around at any time without any notice. And that’s incredibly okay. But He hasn’t yet. I will be open to it, if He does.
And then there’s the children… yes, my biological clock is ticking. I will acknowledge that and I’ve been made very aware. I’m not a mom and I’m 36. Time is really beginning to run out, but I get those sympathetic looks and the comments previously mentioned about having plenty of time and that’s supposed to make me feel alright about it…
Funny thing is, I DO feel alright about it. I feel not just alright, but very good about it actually. Does this mean I hate children? Because let’s be honest, when you say you may not ever want children, that’s the first thing a person thinks, “Dear God, she must not like children!” Quite the contrary. I love children. I love playing with children, singing with children, I do love children. I have felt honored and privileged to have a small role in the lives of the children of some of my closest friends. I love when they hug my neck. I love when they grab my hand and want to show me their latest school project or Christmas gift they received. I love when they snuggle close to me on a couch. I love listening to them laugh. I love their comments. I love their energy. I love them. Pure and simple.
Does that necessarily translate into me wanting children of my own or better yet, needing them to make my life complete? No, I don’t think so. Some women are born to be mothers. They yearn for that time in their life when they can feel the baby kicking and then raise them up in the ways they should go. They relish in their children’s successes and they support them in their failures. That love is completely and utterly unconditional. They are wonderful at it and it is so beautiful to watch. My own mother was this type of woman, this miracle worker that graced and blessed my life. It is a most difficult job that I truly respect.
But I don’t feel as though I was necessarily born to bear my own children. If it happens one day, before my time is up, then so be it, wonderful, fantastic. But if it doesn’t, that’s incredibly okay. I’m not aching to be a mom.
Besides, in this technological and social environment we live in, I could foster or adopt children in need or I could make one in a petrie dish and have one on my own. Or two, or three… if I really wanted them.
But I don’t want to do that. Not now at least. I don’t want to devote my life to a child. I don’t want the full-time commitment of another human being. Does that make me a bad or selfish person? I don’t think so. I think it makes me a responsible one. I recognize my lack of desire and I haven’t allowed my world to sway me into something that I don’t want or feel comfortable with thereby creating more unwanted children on this planet.
Yes, of course, if I had one I would love it incredibly deeply. I would view it as a gift. And I would cherish that gift until the day I died. And so when mothers question me about having children, I know in most cases, it’s that feeling of deep devotion to their own children and how they feel they are a such precious gift and that it’s something they feel I’m missing out on. But it’s incredibly okay.
When I hear that I have plenty of time, well, I must silently argue that I don’t. I don’t have plenty of time to find the right person of which to marry and I don’t have plenty of time to have children. None of us do. Our Great Father tells us not to worry about tomorrow, because quite frankly it isn’t promised to any of us. So while that platitude is nice in casual conversation, upon deeper review, it really isn’t true. In my case or anyone else’s. So I live for today. Content where I am. Happy with the path I’ve chosen because I feel the good Lord led me down it. I’m spouse-less and childless… but incredibly okay. I’m filled with joy. I find pleasure in the smallest things. I’m never bored. And I’m comfortable with who I am, what I can do, and where I am going.
Because I’m not a wife and mother, I have been able to take many opportunities I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. I have traveled, I’ve taken time to really know myself, I’ve volunteered to help others, I’ve saved the animals that I dreamed of as a little girl, I’ve spent time with friends, and I’ve been blessed with solitude when I need it.
My life is good. And it always will be. With or without “the societal idealistic” situation.
This post isn’t targeted at any particular person, but rather a cumulative of comments from friends, family, strangers, etc… over the years. I am incredibly blessed and incredibly okay.