The intention here is not to delve into the complexities of relationships, the desire or lack thereof to bear children, the merits and tragic difficulties of finding a good man. Instead, what I find most interesting about the course of the evening is what each of us deemed a "successful" life, what is required to achieve it, and the opportunities and do-overs that have long passed some of us by.
You'd think by now the idea of success, particularly for women, would extend so far beyond finding the right guy, getting married, and having a family. Divorce rates, shattered glass ceilings, lesbianism... any of these might serve as glaring arguments against this being the tried and true path. But it seems that no matter what else is on the table, lack of a partner and no hope for generating more people is perceived as a future certain to be lacking in happiness. One of us who didn't ever think that lifestyle was for her is now hoping to fit comfortably into that mold. And I don't begrudge her that. Who's to say that, if put into the ideal equation, I might not want the same?
But here's the irony:
The woman who DOES have the husband, the house, the kid, and the domestic life is almost wholly dissatisfied with all of it. On the rare occasions that this particular group gathers, this woman often laments the life she could've had. Of course she loves her child, but the rest of it seems to cast nothing but sorrow and frustration on most of her days. And yet, she still insists that having children is the greatest thing. "Don't give up on having kids. Just find the right guy to do it with." She is the most bitter and cynical of us all regarding men and their behaviors, and yet... the biggest champion of choosing one, mating, and birthing.
I find it puzzling that, when one (particularly female) presents the idea that a successful future does not have to revolve around or even include a relationship, marriage, OR kids, she is met with several of the following answers:
- Well, you still have time.
- Kids are the greatest thing. You'd understand if you had some.
- So, then, what ARE you going to do?
To those of you who can't fathom the idea of success resting on anything but marriage and family, I ask you for this: Look past the sippy-cups, and acknowledge that those of us who choose a different path can be as fulfilled as you. And for Christ's sake, don't pity us for not wanting what you have. Next time you're elbow deep in poopy diapers, haven't had more than 5 minutes to shower since your kid was born, and have replaced all your favorite CDs in the car with Barney sing-alongs, think about what the rest of us are doing and ask yourself if maybe you're not just a wee bit jealous.