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Appreciating What We Have as Parents – A Letter from a Single Woman

As parents, it is important that we understand how lucky we are to have our children in our lives. Our children remind us to practice compassion and have fun once in awhile. Unfortunately, there are those who are not as fortunate to experience the joys that come with being a parent, and want to so badly. These individuals may find themselves in a stage of life that leaves something to be desired; children to care for and a family to create traditions with. The following is a letter from a woman from this point of view; single, childless and feeling misunderstood. This letter explore the emotions that can accompany those who feel incomplete without having a family of their own. It is perspectives like this that can help us to understand just how lucky we are to have our children

I turn 35 this year, single and childless. Cue dramatic, ominous music.

I was the prototypical good girl: I got straight As, did my chores, didn’t drink or smoke—the perfect child.  My friends’ parents wanted them to be more like me.  I always thought I would be married in my twenties, have a great husband and children.  My twenties were spent finishing graduate school, breaking up with the man I thought I would marry, and starting and exiting my chosen career.  Over the past decade, I made many changes—lifestyle, career, geography, friends—but I am still single today.  I had many dates and a few relationships, but none that touched my core.  They simply weren’t healthy or as deep, raw and authentic as I desired.

Society is unkind to single women.  People speak as if finding a mate is as simple as going to the grocery store to pick up milk and cereal.  They ask invasive questions as if trying to uncover what defect keeps a reasonably attractive and intelligent woman single well into her mid-30s.  They assume that we just want to have fun and aren’t serious about marriage.  That we aren’t romantic, nurturing or maternal.  That we’re too career-oriented.  That we’re too picky.  That we aren’t enough.  It’s a paradigm that I bought into as well and am now forced to confront when the pieces of life didn’t fall into place as I thought they would.

It baffles me that people believe it is acceptable to give unsolicited advice on dating and romance to their single peers.  Married folks, you’ve been coupled up far too long, and frankly, if you were single and had to start dating again today, I highly doubt you would consider yourself half as knowledgeable.  Statements such as: “Give the guy a second date,” or “Start freezing your eggs” come off insensitive and hurtful.  Even when my very good friend, who is married and has an adorable baby boy, says “It’s okay, don’t worry, I know it will happen.  Just go out and enjoy life,” I feel that she cannot possibly understand what I am going through.  Neither of us knows what the future holds, and I can’t live on false hope and endless disappointments.

My coping mechanisms involve escaping their expectations and comments.  I distance myself from being humiliated at family functions and evade invasive relatives.  Instead, I submerge myself into what makes me genuinely happy—cooking, spending time with like-minded friends and traveling.  I escape society and its expectations by going inward into myself—to self-soothe, listen to and understand myself.  I listen to, laugh and commiserate with my other single friends over their bad dates.  I send flowers when a boy breaks their heart.  I understand what it’s like to be single, childless and misunderstood.  On good days, I feel like I don’t have a care in the world.  On bad days, I cry because I failed to live up to not just other’s expectations, but my own as well.  I cry because it’s scary being single and alone.  I cry because I don’t know if the future will be more of the same or if something will change.  I cry because, though I realize that marriage and parenthood may be far from easy or perfect, I haven’t even had a chance to experience it.  I cry because I don’t know if I ever will.

So, parents, stay thankful. Though relationships and parenting are not always easy, the joy that our children and families bring to our lives certainly outweigh the hardships.

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