(Reposted from November 2017)
My twentieth high school reunion is at the end of this month.
Hello My Name Is: Divorced. Waitress. No children.
My badges of failure.
I recently attended a workshop led by two of my favorite brave voices. On the last morning of the emotionally exhausting weekend one of the authors made a list.
Hobbies - provide enjoyment
Job - pays bills
Career - pays bills + provides enjoyment
Vocation - calling of the soul + provides enjoyment. Bonus if it pays the bills
She was quick to point out that while hobbies, career, and vocation are wonderful and welcomed, a job is the only life criteria that is mandatory. If you happen to like your job, great. But if it pays the bills and creates the time to pursue your hobbies, then that's an entirely appropriate and sustainable way to spend your time. She also made a point to add that if your "career" pays the bills but does not provide enjoyment you are allowed to get a job and focus on your hobbies. Life is short.
These words pierced my soul. Here was an incredibly successful writer offering me permission to live my life on my terms. Inviting me to give myself the same permission. And encouraging me to stop berating myself for not fitting into particular boxes. These words were freedom. And my heart broke under the weight of wasted time. Comparing where I am and where I am not.
Turns out I'm not as brave as I had hoped to be.
During the workshop we were also asked to write letters to ourselves from different places in our psyche.
Dear Audrey, I am your fear.
Turns out a lot of my decisions are still ruled by this tedious entity. And I create whole scenarios and problem solve imaginary situations hoping to gain control over the uncontrollable. The topic of children has come up quite often in the past few years, and my body goes into panic mode. Stone cold detachment. I watch my close friends start their families and I see my classmates' kiddos on Facebook and Instagram. And something inside me shuts down.
Nope. No kids for me. I'm an independent lady. Total time suck. Goodbye travel. Hello boredom.
Fear had surprising things to add.
What if she is mentally I'll? In my dreams my child is a little blonde girl. Yeah I dream about kiddos. Denial at its finest.
What if she turns out to be an alcoholic/drug addict? What if your partner doesnt help? What if your partner leaves? What if you feel all alone and lose your sense of self and resent this tiny being? What if your child doesn't feel loved? What if your child is bullied or is a bully? What if your math skills aren't good enough to home-school? What if?
In my mind I make the decision not to have children. I convince myself it will alleviate disappointment. When I'm too old to have them I can say it was my choice. That I made the call. That I prevented a catastrophe.
Some of these fears are valid and should be considered and weighed and some of them are down right ridiculous. But they all feel equally heavy and real inside my heart.
The truth is, I don't know what will happen down the road. The only guarantee is there are no guarantees. And that scares the shit out of me. But I'm trying to come to terms with those fears and make room for them without letting them rule. Maybe someday I will be a mom. Or maybe I won't. But I want to be genuinely okay with either outcome.
Hello My Name Is: Audrey.
And I'm trying to let the light into my dark places.