I was never a little girl who dressed up in Mum’s pearl necklace and lace doilies pretending I was a bride, nor tenderly tuck my dolls into their tissue-box beds at night. I was far too busy cutting off Barbie and Skipper’s hair to glue onto matchboxes as Christmas presents. Which apart from hinting at worrying psychiatric issues, might also suggest that I had the maternal instincts of a skink, which eats her eggs before they even hatch.
That said, I’d always just assumed I’d get married one day and have several kids, because that was simply ‘what women did’. After all, I came from a traditional and very happy family with four siblings, a stay-at-home mum and a working father, and I expected I’d follow much the same path – white picket fence and all.
But somewhere I lost my way.
I left college with a diploma of Graphic Design, set up my own design business, bought an apartment, and travelled the world – many times. I loved my work, and felt it was an extension of me – the creativity, the colour, the pure fun of it. I never thought of replacing it with anything else for a greater sense of accomplishment, like so many of my friends had started doing in their late twenties – most usually by having babies. No, work was my passion, and travelling came a close second, so between the two, my life was complete.
Sure, I was busy dating, but I was looking for men whom I found exciting, rather than men who might make good husbands and fathers. No – the ‘nice’ men simply didn’t appeal to me, so by the time I hit forty and it was only just dawning on me that perhaps I should finally think about settling down, all the decent men were taken.
At this point I started to get a bit twitchy as I realized that I may have left my run too late. Because even if I did find a nice bloke whom I actually liked – well, my eggs may have been more coddled than sunny-side up.
But I still wasn’t desperate enough to do anything about it – there were pictures to draw, books to write, a beach-house to renovate, orang-utans to visit, safaris to go on, and enough casual boyfriends to keep me amused. Indeed, my life was so busy that I really didn’t have the time anyway to fit in anything else. And even though I’d occasionally look at my married friends with yet another kid on the way, and wonder if perhaps I was a social misfit, I still wasn’t entirely convinced that I was really missing out on anything.
After all, who’s to say that marriage and babies are for everyone?
Indeed, it was slowly dawning on me that perhaps I was doing okay. Being single meant I could travel wherever I liked, flirt with whomever I fancied, and have my own space whenever I needed it. I could eat sardines right from the can for dinner, wear flannelette pyjamas, buy the expensive handbag I wanted, watch zombie films on TV, and if I didn’t feel like having sex, well, I didn’t.
And perhaps most importantly, being unmarried meant that I could find out who I really was, what I really wanted, and what I was really good at. Indulge my passions. Find my own way in life, no matter if it was a path less trod.
And not having kids, well, it meant that I could keep on working at what I loved most, keep on travelling to exotic climes, laugh without peeing my pants, sleep in on the weekends, do things on the spur of the moment, not find spaghetti stuffed in my shoes, and have the time and energy to pursue my varied interests. And I’ve saved the nearly $300,000 it would have cost to raise a child. How else do you think I could afford a beach house?
Besides, I have eleven nieces and nephews, so if I ever need to be reminded why I’d not been hell-bent on having kids, well, I just offer to babysit for the day, and it all comes rushing back to me.
Just kidding – I love them to bits.
Still, ‘losing my way’ was probably the one thing that contributed to me finding my way.
Way to go!