I spent the first few years of my 30’s convinced that I wanted the full family combo; the husband, the children, the house, and the job. But after spending two full weeks at home in Minneapolis completely surrounded by all those things, I’m actually not so sure. I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, a place largely built around families, lakes, and six large corporations where pretty much everyone you meet works. Minneapolis is the type of place where high school sweethearts marry after high school or go to the same college just to date each other for four years and then get married.
I was in a bridesmaid in three weddings before I was 25; spoiler alert: two are now divorced. Even at 25, I was clear that I would not get married before leaving Minnesota and exploring the world. Twenty five was also the year I moved to San Francisco. It was refreshing to be around women that were thriving in their careers and enjoyed dating, traveling, and just being. For the first time in my young adulthood, I didn’t feel different for not wanting marriage at that point in my life.
At 28 I moved to New York and was even more impressed by the independence of my friends and peers. It was a stark contrast from my friends back in Minneapolis. Most of the women I hung out with in NYC were a few years older, unmarried, dating, and career focused and I fit right in. The first 2 years in New York were amazing, I dated men I would’ve never found in Minneapolis; from bankers to broadway actors, I really got to know what I liked and myself in the process.
By 30, I was in 6 weddings and I was starting to feel insecure about not being in a similar place.
Around 31 I got the baby bug and began to feel like maybe I wanted to settle down, meet the right man, and start a family. I’m not sure why that feeling hit at 31, mother nature and the biological clock I guess. I felt a strong desire to be a mother, began to take dating much more seriously, and only dated men I could see a serious future with. And that’s how I’ve dated for the last two years.
Recently I spent 2 weeks in Minneapolis; the most time I’ve spent there consecutively since moving away. I left feeling uncertain about the things I thought I wanted. I spent a lot of time with my married friends. I hung at their houses, played with their children, and got to observe the type of life I wanted. It scared me! The fantasy looked much better than the reality. As I sat in their 4 bedroom suburban houses playing with their children and listening to them complain about their corporate jobs and their bosses, all I could think was, “so this is it?” and that thought haunted me me. I don’t mean to oversimplify marriage and family and how much that means, but really, then what? You get married, buy a house, have a few kids, then what? I started to realize just how much the thought of a predictable life and monotony scares me.
The thing I like most about my life right now is the freedom; the freedom to travel, the freedom to go out with my friends, the freedom to move across the world right now if I wanted to, and even the freedom to do nothing sometimes.
I like that I have almost no idea where my life will be in a year. I have a plan but freedom allows me to be open to all possibilities. The loss of that freedom scares me and I’m sure I’m ready to give it up.
At 32, I feel more free than I ever have. I’m single and I work for myself. I don’t answer to anyone and I’m not sure if I’m ready to give that up.
I do what I want most of the time and most of what I do requires little input from others. If I were a parent I would be a doting unselfish one, but again, I’m not sure I’m ready to be that. I know parents reading this are thinking, “what she doesn’t realize is that the benefits of children far outweigh the freedoms you give up.” That’s probably true, in fact I know it’s true, but when you’ve built a life around yourself, it can be hard to give it up.
I’m starting to wonder if I wanted the whole family combo because I thought I should or just because my body was telling me or because I grew up where that was the norm. I’m not sure why I was so sure I wanted a family. I’m not ready to declare that I don’t want a family and I’m certainly not going to cease my quest to find the one. I’m simply in search of my reasons and I want to make certain that I become a wife and a mother for the right reasons.