It wasn’t 10 minutes into our happy hour, as we waited patiently for the over-enthused waiter with the punk-rocked hair to bring our drinks, that we agreed on one fundamental premise of our lives.
Ten minutes is all we needed.
No alcohol confidence, no silly girlfriend rivalry, no self-declaration of superiority. Just the sober- minded judgment of two 39 year old women. One 11 years into a marriage and the other days away from wedding bliss.
We declared over sourdough bread and plates of olive oil that to have it all might mean not having kids at all.
It wasn’t a strange way to start the night. It didn’t negate the “happy” in our favorite hour. Instead, it was more like walking, or breathing, or living wide-eyed and conscious. It was normal for us outliers to start where we always left off. To pick back up at the place we always did – debating the meaning of living childless in a world where childless women still had to struggle to explain their decision.
Unfortunately for me I had no choice in the matter.
Doctors had repeated my fate many times, although I refused to give them the last word. Some days my frailty felt like a curse, and others a blessing.
I’d taught myself how to react to the unwanted sympathy often expressed by sad eyes and a slight touch of my hand. “No kids, poor you,” I could hear them say. At times I absorbed their pity and let it get the best of me, and at others, it was a cruel kindness that left me defending the real value of what many considered a subtracted life.
But my friend had choices although we both knew she had little time.
Her biological clock could be heard over the sounds in the noisy restaurant. It was amplified by parents and in-laws who wanted grand kids; nieces and nephews who needed playmates and husbands who wanted a lineage of their rugged good looks and boyish charm.
Her biological clock ticked just as mine had before I put it bed and awaited my fate. Her pursuit was just beginning, just as mine was moving in a new direction.
Two smart women seeking completeness find themselves asking “Is it worth it?” – the commitment, the assumed joy it will bring.
Is it worth our peace – our promise to no one but ourselves? Is it really about our needs or more to please others? Can we give at this age the same amount of ourselves that we could in our 20s?
Do we still care to take up the cause of motherhood when we are finally looking down the road to even more freedom and making our mark in other ways?
Could we really have it all and what did we risk losing?
Our conversation was genuine. No need to be phony with each other. No reason to pretend. We both were childless and didn’t know what that meant. But we had a healthy image of our lives.
We were satisfied with our unconventional fairytale because it was less about tradition and more about destiny.
We felt the right amount of guilt and looked for ways to explain our way of life to others. We made jokes about overzealous parents who use their kids as pawns of their success.
Debated the cause of autism and haggled with our fears of coping with the imperfections of the kids we may never have.
We argued over the best course to educate the next generation of leaders and tossed ideas around about ways to improve kids by fixing parents. We spoke about everything that most would-be, should-be parents would.
Then we stopped.
Took another sip of wine during our happiest moment of the hour, exhaled, and started again.
We asked ourselves: who would really benefit…the child who we no longer knew how to situate in our increasingly busy lives? The new family dynamic? Why put our dreams of big careers and even bigger bank accounts at risk?
The perfect union? Complete with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, a dog and don’t forget the happy husband who finally has someone around to watch the big game with.
The world says, do it! Every time.
Don’t question it. Don’t argue against it. Smile.
Real women have kids. Real women make sacrifices. Real women dedicate their lives to the greater good.
You have choices. Take the test. Adopt. Find a surrogate. Try again. Do something!
A second glass of wine arrives and the 800 pound baby tries to steal all the air out of the room, but we managed to exhale, again.
We knew we really had no answers; we only had what-ifs, maybes, and probabilities. Were we meant to Mom? Were we ready to embark on our late in life journey to find our inner-MILF-dom?
Were we ready, still?
Yes, we were ready still…
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