I’m sitting here watching my kids tear the house apart, and it brings on a thousand emotions. Ella is bawling and Callum is chasing the dog and screaming. Sure I’m exhausted and it’s only 8:45am… I’m frustrated, feeling impatient, trying to resist raising my voice and rolling my eyes… but I love them. I love them so much that it physically hurts to think about it.
But sometimes I wonder…
I wonder what path I might have taken if I was a bit more of an “outside the box” thinker. I always hear women saying, “Oh I was never that girl that day dreamed about a wedding or babies…”
I was that girl. I dreamed about it HARD. I dreamed about it from the time I knew what it was until the day that it happened, and I STILL watch “Say Yes to the Dress”. I’m not sure why… my parents divorced when I was quite young and many kids who go through that say that they are adverse to marriage because of it, but not me. Maybe I was determined to have something that my parents didn’t, or to prove something to the world? I don’t know. But I was that girl writing my first name with “his” last name over and over. And by “him” I mean pretty much every guy I ever liked. Ever.
Ugh. I was SO that girl.
I loved the romantic novels, the love story movies, the happy endings… and I was always seen as the quintessential “girl next door”. I remember having a crush on an older boy in high school, and him telling me that while I might not be the girl the guys wanted to mess around with now, I’d be the one they wanted to marry in a few years.
When I went off to university, one of my friends wrote me a letter (yup.. on actual PAPER, it was 1996, people… we didn’t have email for another month or two and even then I had no clue what the hell it was or how to use it) and in it he said “Try not to be married by Christmas break!” I had definitely sealed my reputation by this point I guess.
I never meant to be so predictable, I just wanted what I thought I wanted!
Now here I am… 37 years old, married with three kids and a house in the suburbs… I’m living
the my dream! I really am, and I love my life. But sometimes I can’t help but wonder where I got all these ideas from of what life was supposed to be. At what point did I decide that marriage and children were what I was supposed to do?
I look around at my friends now, and while 80% of them are married with kids, there’s the other 20% that fascinate me. Maybe they just haven’t found the one, maybe they’re consciously holding off until they’ve accomplished certain things in their lives… but maybe.. just MAYBE… wait for it…
They don’t WANT to be married or have children.
I know… it’s PREPOSTEROUS! Or is it? I have to say that as I get older I have a huge respect for people who are self aware enough to realize that they either don’t want to be parents or that they wouldn’t be very good at it. There are many people in the world who have forged ahead into marriage and parenthood without really thinking about if it was right for them. Myself included.
People have such tunnel vision. As soon as you’re dating someone, it’s “When are you getting engaged?”, and as soon as you’re married, it’s “When are you having kids?”… it never stops. People naturally assume that you want these things just like they do, and the easiest thing is to just go along that well-traveled path… but just because a path is well-traveled doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
Luckily, I think I am where I am meant to be… but I admit it – I never spent a minute thinking about if marriage and children was what I really wanted! It was just so built in to my upbringing, the society around me… the shows I watched, the books I read… they all told me that the right thing to do – the NORMAL thing – was to get hitched and procreate. I just went along with it, I suppose. But there are lots of people who don’t, and I think they are brave.
If anything, I would have waited. I would have traveled and saved money and furthered my education. I would have bought a home and checked a lot more off the ol’ bucket list before I settled down… but it’s okay, I can still do those things. Maybe with kids in tow, or maybe years from now, but the listed will still be checked off.
I always tell my kids that their life can be whatever they want it to be. Straight or gay, single or married, kids or not… all that matters is that they are happy, decent people. I don’t ever want them to feel boxed in or pressured to be something or someone that they are not meant to be. I want them to know that it’s okay to be different!
I think that bucket lists are pretty important. I think that we spend so much time making grocery lists and “honey do” lists and don’t focus nearly enough on the big picture. We get one shot at this life (according to science), so why not try to make it amazing? My ten year old has started her list, and I can’t wait to see it evolve and checked off over the years. I want her to know that what SHE wants to achieve in her life is what’s most important. Once she’s done the things that mean something to her, she will be ready to share her world with someone else (and, if she chooses, maybe some tiny people as well).
For the record? Here’s my own list!
– Marry the love of my life (of course it was first) – CHECK
– Have a baby (yup… still being predictable) – CHECK CHECK CHECK
– Get a pixie cut – CHECK
– Kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland
– Fly first class
– Go ziplining
– Swim with dolphins
– Meet Steve Martin
– Be at the lighting of the big Christmas tree in NYC
– Attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto
– Go on a road trip, stopping at a bunch of “Diners, Drive Ins & Dives” locations
– Attend the Oscars
A mightly (and slightly cheesy) list, for sure… the Oscars is likely a bit of a stretch… but that’s the POINT of the list. You’re never going to achieve something if you don’t even try. So, married with kids or not, my list is being attacked one by one. It’s my life, and no one is gonna live it for me!