Seeing the Good on Your Side of the Sliding Door
For me, a new year brings about a lot of pressure and stress about what isn’t. What I need to "fix" or make better in the new year, and stat.
On a more personal note than normal, the decision of whether or not to have kids (on my own if I didn't meet someone in time) has occupied my brain for the better part of a decade. Starting with egg freezing appointments at 34, to finally deciding to freeze at 38/39 (reach out to me if you have any questions on that process). To the years of jealous thinking when faced with a younger woman who says haphazardly that she doesn't know if she wants kids and is stressed about time slipping away (at 25!). Or anger felt on dates when some guy pushing 40 says that he wants to wait another 5-10 years, till he's really ready to have kids (this was quite a common refrain). I won't talk much more about this as I actually started a secret blog a few years back, badly promoted under a pen name, in what I fancy as a bit of a "sex in the city "style missive around the topic alongside dating with the cloud of this decision floating low overhead.
To Baby or Not to Baby
But I've been listening to this podcast over the last year called To Baby or Not to Baby (It's brilliant by the way. Highly entertaining British sisters talking with all sorts of parents, wannabe parents, never-in-this-lifetime parents and everything in between). This morning they were speaking with a woman in her 70s who decided to not have children very early on in life (who even shared this decision on 60 Minutes, to the response of death threats if you can believe it). She's a teacher and has lead a wonderful life full of love, mentorship, and travel. My favorite part is when she talks about how when she closes her eyes she can see the sunsets over the African Safari and a million other gorgeous moments that have come out of her extensive travel.
I won't get into the details here or any of my thoughts on the kid question as I'll save that for the blog where I can be more candid, but I will say that it had me thinking a lot about the gratitude I have for what is in my life.
The Good in the Unplanned
I'm grateful for having had so many adult years, where I felt like I was still growing (do we ever stop growing???) to work out a lot of my own issues. I've said before that I firmly believe that we all, every single human, could benefit from some structured therapy or thinking about how they relate to the world, with the help of someone other than those immediately connected to them.
I've had a chance to travel quite a bit and I do have those moments where I close my eyes and can see the monstrous icebergs at the bottom of the earth in Patagonia and almost hear them crash into the water below. That sunset over the mountains of Morocco while sitting on a dusty rooftop drinking a Fanta. Even that scary moment in Cambodia where I was held up in a small village, all of my money stolen, and the entire village gathered around to watch. Somehow they are all magical memories now.
I've had the time to build up so many friendships that I consider to be an extended part of my family. They add so much colour and variety and love to my life. And all of my years of dating experiences (sometimes horrendous at the time) have given me a better handle on what would work for me long term in a relationship.
I do have things that I miss on a daily basis. But I know that if I'd had a child at a young age, I likely wouldn't have had a lot of the amazing experiences I've had to date (I'm sure it would have been just as great...but different ;)), and that's definitely something to be grateful for.
A friend sent me a clip from Cynthia Loyst recently where she talked about regrets from those "sliding door" moments. Where you made a decision and your path went a certain way, and you sometimes look back and wonder about the "what-ifs" and how things would have been different if you'd entered the other door. But there's really no way to know if things would have been better or worse, and it's best to be grateful for the path that has been laid before us.
Hope you're able to see the good things in the path you're on today. Even if it's imperfect and unplanned. And if things are super shitty, hope you can envision the good around the bend!