I’ve had crying kids lost in stores cling to my hand. Children giggle at me over Mommy’s shoulder. And every once in awhile a child in a crowd spontaneously comes up and hugs me.
As a teenager and in my early 20's, I dreamed of being a mother. I think a lot of that was the masked vision of just wanting a family again. Nonetheless I dreamed, and still do, one of those wonderfully domestic scenes of a large dinner table with a lazy susan in the middle with hands of all kinds reaching in – boys and girls, biological and adopted children, foster children, and even foreign exchange students. When I turned 22 and moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast, I was a nanny for a 6 month old little boy, the child of two Hollywood producers, and I quickly fell in love with him. When I held him in my arms, there was some sort of transference between us. I believed with everything in me I would give birth to at least one child, but probably several, in my lifetime.
When it came time to abort the dream of a career in acting & comedy, I knew I wanted to be a teacher—the perfect career for a woman who wanted to have a family. I became a high school teacher for a few years in Santa Monica, CA.
As I sit today to survey the landscape of my life, loves lost and dreams dashed, quite honestly, I thought I would have a family by now. It is a bizarre reality; a destined path that was somehow averted. Have I failed? Succeeded? Am I right where I am supposed to be? If not, then what?
Things do not always work the way you think they will...... and hope they will..... and pray they will. And you must adapt. Somewhere along the line I shed the dream of a family. At times it was a conscious decision; other times not. I think I just gave it up as it became apparent that the dream wasn’t going to happen. Part of me reasoned that it was pointless to dream of kids without a husband in the picture — a kind of putting the cart before the horse.
Almost two decades have sped by since I was a nanny. Hundreds of kids sat in desks in front of me in my classroom, but none sit at my dining room table.
This summer I turned 40. Forty, single and childless.
I miss family life and I do not like living alone. No more transient roommates for me, as they are not at all the same as family who grow together. My next roommate will be my husband. That may mean I am alone forever. Super.
Who knows if I am even able to have children – now or ever. The reality of ever having my "family" dimishes with each day that goes by.
A couple days ago a friend told me she had mentioned me to her male friend, a 42-year old venture capitalist who travels frequently but was based in Denver. His response, "How old is she?" Normal question, I suppose - but upon hearing I was "40" he was turned off. (ummmm, he is 42!??) He still wants children, and I am out of his age range acceptable profile. Right.
Forty, single and childless. Sometimes it feels like I haven’t lived, that I’m still that little girl praying for life to happen, doing things to try to make life happen but coming up with no results. At other times I feel like the excitement of life is in the past, that my opportunities have passed.
Unfortunately this blog post will not have an inspirational message or a redeeming thought to leave us with hope. This is my blog so I get to write whatever I want. It's no secret that this time of the year is very difficult for me. My normal snarky, bitter demeanor (I'm kidding - I usually am quite upbeat) takes on a whole different level of inconsolable malaise more powerful than any drug or therapist or volunteering can help. Trust me, I've tried. I don't want to be an orphan who is invited to sit vigil at someone else's family tradition. I don't want to be an outsider. I want my OWN tradition(s), my own roots. I want to be a part of something meaningful. If I am not there, it would actually be noticable and something would be wrong. It doesn't make me crazy to desire these things, it makes me HUMAN. All I have ever wanted, truly wanted, since I was 15 years old, was to have my family. I don't dream of a BMW. I don't dream of a huge mansion. I dream of belonging somewhere. I look around at other people who have it, many who don't appreciate it, so why can't I have it? Can't someone who has nothing have a tiny bit? Or will those who have a lot just continue to get more? The reality of this is so sharp it stings my eyes.
Life is full of variety. There isn’t a set timeline and way life is supposed to happen. We're all just doing the best we can, and trying to figure it all out as we go...
Cheers to you and your journey. Be good to one another.
Oh, and happy holidays - you bastards. :) (I knew a sarcastic quip would find its way onto the post!)