I want to apologize for all the things I said when I didn’t know any better.
When I was trying to get pregnant, and failing, a part of me died inside every time someone asked when we were planning to have kids. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I was trying really, really hard, or tell people that I cried in my car sometimes when I watched moms wobbling under the weight of their growing bellies toddle into the grocery store.
And in those moments I learned never to ask a woman that question.
Years later I’d meet folks who never felt compelled to have kids. They didn’t feel the same urge that I felt, and they cringed inwardly (sometimes outwardly) when asked: “So, when are you going to make me a grandma,” as though none of their other achievements had meaning if they didn’t also procreate.
Thanks to those people I learned never to approach that question by assuming parenthood was everyone’s end game.
Parking our biases
We all thrust our biases on those around us — if I naturally gravitate to the idea of motherhood, then I assume you must also. If I love being a wife, love coming home to my spouse every day, and am unable to imagine a life without him, then I assume you want that, too, and so I might ask you: “Are you seeing anyone interesting? Do you have a boyfriend yet?”
What we fail to recognize is that when we’re shoving our own limited world views down the throats of others they experience that interaction very differently than we intend — as pity.
ingredients for a ‘happy’ life
For the longest time I was on the ‘right’ cultural trajectory. I had the career, the house, the spouse, the kids. If our Western culture compiled a recipe for happiness, I had all the main ingredients.
And I was happy, for a bit. But even with all the necessary ingredients, everything started to sour.
Single is actually a beautiful thing to be
I’ve learned that there are worse things than being single. What’s worse? Being in a relationship in which there’s no trust and no security. Being in a relationship that requires walking on eggshells, or sneaking glances at text messages. Single is better than feeling like you have to hide or change part of yourself to make it work, and that no matter how successful or beautiful you make yourself, you’ll never be quite enough. Single is better than knowing that no number of delicious meals prepared, family vacations planned, or Instagram-worthy photos taken will work to fix all the broken things.
Being single is easy, and believe it or not, some of us choose to be single, sometimes forever, or sometimes for just a little while.
So when someone says: “It’s going to be OK! You’re beautiful and young! You’ll find someone special, and you’ll be so happy,” I cringe and suddenly feel as though I have to defend myself and my situation. Suddenly, I feel pitiable.
When we assume people can’t be happy without a partner we’re doing them a disservice. I’ve never been happier, and I don’t know how to convince you otherwise, or even if I should bother trying. I know blogging about it won’t work, because there are those who will read this and still shake their heads and whisper: “Aww, that’s sad. Pretty girl. I hope she finds someone soon.” Adding insult to injury, they’ll respond with a “caring” reaction or throw a hug emoji in the comment section.
But it was worth a shot at least, because honestly I’m fine.