Friend Lisa and I watched Juno recently. It’s one of my favorite movies because it’s simultaneously realistic and hopeful.
After the movie ended, though, Lisa turned to me and asked an interesting question that most girls don’t get asked after a certain age.
“Do you want to have kids?”
*After writing this post, another friend asked me the same question… what’s with that? Do I have a theclockisticking sign on my forehead?
I think the reason most women don’t get asked that question is because there’s a default setting we prescribe to them, and we only wonder about the few who don’t seem to fit the default mold.
I don’t fit the default mold.
I know this doesn’t seem possible, but I equally want to have kids and not to have them. It’s not that I’d be okay if I have kids or okay if I don’t. I actually passionately want kids. And I passionately want not to have them. I want to spend twenty years nurturing another life into maturity… AND I want to spend those twenty years travelling the world by myself, teaching English, and writing Middle Grade bestsellers.
In explaining this to Lisa, I tried to start at a place that made more sense: marriage.
From my experience, most girls not only want to get married, but they desperately want to end their singleness.
I’m not one of those girls.
I’m equally driven towards marriage and singleness. I want both.
It probably started soon after that the unfortunate thing with my dirtbag. Like a lot of girls, I got cheated on then swore off men. Then, I moved out of my parents’ house and spent a couple of years living alone.
I really liked living alone.
I’m good at being alone.
And for those two years, I questioned that which girls rarely question: could I find true joy in singleness?
The answer for me is yes.
That yes is not the product of a Christian girl trying to give the correct answer – the answer that proves how much I trust God to write my life for me. That yes is a deep-seeded desire to be single for the rest of my life. It’s a drive toward reckless abandon that couples lose and forget. It’s a warm appreciation of monsoon evenings spent alone on the balcony of a 1-bedroom apartment and a love of sitting next to strangers on overseas flights.
The trouble is that I also hear my married friends tell stories that stir my heart for companionship. One of my married friends was talking about having nightmares. I have frequent nightmares, and it’s always interesting to me how other people deal with them because I just go back to sleep and have the same nightmare again. I don’t even fight it or try to avoid it. My friend, though, will wake her husband up, and he’ll pray for her before they go back to sleep.
I know, right?
Isn’t that the most intimate, adorable, secure idea you’ve ever heard?
And wouldn’t it be amazing to be an overseas missionary teaching English and writing middle grade bestsellers… with someone?
None of the things I want out of life truly exclude me from marriage. I could do all of them with another person. And even if we didn’t do all of the things I want to do, when I ask myself if I would truly find joy in giving those things up to be with another person… the answer again is a resounding yes.
But it’s the exact same yes I give when I wonder about joy in singleness.
I admit that I’m a ridiculously indecisive person. I like other people to order food for me at restaurants because I want everything on the menu and don’t care enough to decide.
And unfortunately, I think that’s sort of my attitude toward kids and toward marriage.
Do I want to get married?
Do I want to stay single?
Do I want to have kids?
Do I want not to have kids?
Do I want the chicken?
Do I want pasta?
I’m not trying to trivialize it, but I don’t know how to explain it in any other way. If I had the money, I’d get 2 appetizers, the chicken, the pasta, a sandwich, soup, a potato, steamed veggies, 3 desserts, and 6 beverages every time I go out to eat. And I’d do the same thing with life. I’d get married and not, have kids and not, travel and settle down, live by my pen and go back to school to study a science and keep my teaching job.
I’d be the default woman who experiences the normal woman things… I’d have a mini-van (because they are SO cool – not being sarcastic… I’ve been in love with them since Steve, Lori, Jordan and I drove one to Vegas right after I graduated from the U of A), be a stay-at-home mom, and vacuum the house wearing heels… and I’d be the crazy person we all secretly admire but never want to be – that chick who sells all of her belongings and moves to Cambodia, has 27 tattoos, and can’t be bothered to put make-up on.
When I tried to explain this to Lisa, I finally got frustrated and said something like, “I wish I could give you a normal answer.”
She said that if she’d wanted a normal answer, she’d have asked someone else.
“I know. But I wish I could give you one.”
It sucks, huh? – believing it’d be easier to be something other than what we are, but knowing that the honest version of ourselves is complicated. Doesn’t it seem like other people are less complicated? Like they’re all default people?
They’re probably complicated too. We all are.