I've made no secret of the fact that my thirties have been my favorite decade of life so far. I found my footing, a quiet sense of confidence my teens and twenties decidedly lacked, and the kind of love that startles you with its depth and leaves you a sort of grateful you didn't know you could feel for the mere presence of someone being in your life. This has been a good decade. *Really* good.
Lucy Van Pelt: Or maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia?Fear. The kind of fear you can't even necessarily name and, when you do, you sound silly or selfish, so you just leave it unnamed. It's something and nothing and everything.
Charlie Brown: What's pantophobia?
Lucy Van Pelt: The fear of everything.
Charlie Brown: THAT'S IT!
Also, selfishness. We can do things like renew our Disney passes without batting a financial eyelash, or decide at the last minute that it's date night without needing to find a sitter. I can shower in peace, don't have to share "a bite?" of everything I eat, and no one is leaving bodily fluids on my clothing. I can pack my suitcase and get on a plane to visit a friend without needing to tote along a child or feel guilty for leaving my husband to solo parent while I play. I can spend my Saturday mornings lazily browsing the internet, watch anything I want on tv, have ice cream for dinner, or declare that right now is "me time," because I don't have to feed a healthy breakfast or prevent someone entirely dependent on me from damaging themselves. After 38 years, I like to think I'm not selfish toward the people already in my life, but I'm old enough to be set in my ways, and the thought of disrupting my easy lifestyle is unsettling, even in theory. See? Selfish.
Selfishness and fear. Not the qualities one hopes to display as a parent, right? It's not that think I truly couldn't, if I had to. I could. And I have no doubt that I would love and care for a child quite well. I *like* kids. I just also like my life the way it is and I know a child would change that. I look at the things that my parent-friends bemoan and get cranky about...and I catch myself thinking "but my life is so easy..."
38 has been weird. It offers this strange middle ground perspective of being able to appreciate exactly what I have, while acknowledging that there are miracles of life I could also appreciate, if they came to be.
And people have their opinions, which they're more than willing to share. Anxious to, even, pouncing on even the smallest opportunity, sometimes to the point of manufacturing one. "When will you have kids? You're not getting any younger..." (I'm aware. Thanks for stating the obvious.) "Just do it, you'll never regret it." (I'm not concerned with regret, but I'll never be convinced *that* is a good reason to make oneself responsible for a whole new human being.) "It's the best decision I ever made." (Yes, *you*, but I am not you, I am me, and I assure you that our lives are quite likely very different, as the trajectories we took could not be more opposite, so I can't make my life decisions based on what was best for you.)
38 has been weird. It feels like do-or-die time for decisions I don't know how to reach. Many days, I think "oops" would be the only way I'm ever propelled in this direction, because "oops" takes the need to make a decision out of my hands (as much of a decision as it can be anyway), and oh dear Lord, I'm so very bad at decisions, and the days of "oops" are dwindling. The thing is, I can't figure out if that makes me relieved or sad. I come back, again and again, to one of Charlotte's lines in the "Sex and the City" movie: "I have everything I ever wanted. I am so happy that I'm terrified. Nobody gets everything that they want."
But the probing curiosity, however genuine and heartfelt, and the admonitions not to allow fear to be a factor? They don't actually *help*, if you can understand what I'm saying. Maybe this will put an end to all the wondering people seem to be doing about the topic, some vocal, some more passive-aggressive. I don't have an answer and I'm not looking for anyone to tell me what to do. What will be, will be, and there will either one day be a wee person...or there won't. I am at peace with that much, for myself, and I rather hope that you can be as well. If you asked me point blank, my unequivocal truth is that I will be grateful however my life continues to unfold, because it's already given me so much more than I could have hoped for.
Speaking of terrifying, I suspect I'll stare at that orange publish button for a long time before I work up the nerve to click it. I so rarely make myself vulnerable with thoughts and emotions that are tender and profoundly personal. It's so far from my comfort zone of "hold my cards close to my vest," that my comfort zone isn't even on the radar at this point. My comfort zone, in case you were wondering, would be to type this all out and then save it as a draft. But, you know, 38 has been weird, might as well embrace it. Because it's been a *good* weird.