The inconsistency of our wants

It’s not that I don’t want to be a mom one day . . . it’s just that the idea of doing it right now is my idea of a disaster. 

I know, I know, babies are the cutest and they love you unconditionally and they make your boobs big — why wouldn’t I want one?! I’m almost 29 for crying out loud. The maternal instinct should be here by now.

First of all, I would argue that I do have the maternal instinct. My entire internet history is puppy videos — that one with the baby and the two pugs, oh man — I want a dog so badly I cry almost daily about it. Alone and in public, often in the elevator.

But I don’t want children at the moment. Why? Because I like my body, my sleep and my spontaneous plane tickets.

Enough about me, though, children are all the rage these days. At least they are to all my girlfriends.

When Steve and I took off last weekend back to my hometown to watch my brother play a gig I was giddy excited. It had been way too long since I had hung out with girlfriends, let alone the girlfriends — you know the ones; they make you feel alive, authentic, appreciated, whole and normal. (I don’t care what anyone says, friends with the ability to make you feel ‘normal’ are the best friends a person can ask for.)

All of them have children, half of them have more than one. Call it a small town thing or an I’m-almost-thirty-thing or whatever you want, that statistic is straight messed.

I am now the minority.

Looking around at these amazing women as we sat catching up over cheap beer and good music I thought to myself how incredible it was that only a short 18 months ago we were all still sort-of-single university students, confused about life and the meaning of it, about adulthood and what that even means and — for the most part — mostly-not-moms.

As we filled each other in about the nature of our current relationships (new ones, old ones, painful endings, exciting beginnings, marriages and wedding plans, divorce and legal bills) and careers (education, stay-at-home-moms, prison therapists, engineers, ministers) we started to see not only how much has changed, but how much we’ve missed. It’s not that we don’t keep in touch, it’s just that life is wild and runs its own course — pulling us with it and not always pausing to allow us to give the play-by-play.

As we piled into the back of a Dodge Caravan — all dressed up in our Friday-night best — ready to continue our night I looked at Steve, being yanked by his hand through the sliding side door of a mom-van, and pleaded desperately with my eyes NOT YET. I DON’T WANT TO BE A MINI VAN MOM YET. PLEASE DON’T GET ANY IDEAS.

I sat, squashed between a car seat and a bunch of loose Cheerios, looking at the life my dear friends have created for themselves — soft, wonderful, nurturing — and I was proud. Proud and terrified. My heart is not a minivan heart.

With panic rising in my throat as we rounded every corner of the town I grew up in on our four safety-tested winter tires, not for the snow but for the preview, I began to have a conversation with myself. Maybe I’m actually just cut out to be a twenty-something for all eternity? Maybe I’m one of those women who don’t want to pro-create, ever? Would that be so bad?

As my panic began to enclose around me and my conversation with myself became more rude and degrading than it did helpful, I heard the following yelled from the driver’s seat:


And just like that I was back to earth — riding in a car with my girlfriends, listening to speakers that had past their volume maximum, singing along to something embarrassingly catchy and having, what some might call, “a moment.”

It brought me back to a comment that was made earlier in the evening:

“If everything worked out the way we planned, life would be so boring.”

This isn’t what we thought our portrait would look like 18 months ago. This isn’t the picture we painted when we sat well into the night writing out million dollar plans and step-by-step checklists of accountability. But looking around, the smiles said it all.

No one gives a damn about what we said we were going to do, they care about what we did do.

Who we loved and how hard. What wrong turns we took and exactly how lost we got. Where we ended up and what got us there. And they care about how happy we are with all of those choices.

There’s nothing wrong with following your paper plan and checking off the boxes, but that’s not me. I need a margin of error — the freedom to pull over at the pit-stop and stay there for a year — and with that comes the recognition that, sometimes, the things that can change in 18 months re-define us. Looking at the gorgeous, healthy, loving lives of the women around me last weekend reminded me of this.

What we want today isn’t going to be what we want in 18 days, let alone 18 months.

The biggest favor we can do ourselves is to be receptive to the tides when they start to shift, knowing in our heart of hearts that when that song comes on, we’re still going to crank it up.

Minivan, mustang or otherwise.


Leave a Reply