Tomorrow is my 31st birthday.
My life as I turn 31 is nothing like I had planned. If I had gotten pregnant when I wanted to, at 27, I would probably be the mother to two children by now – I never wanted an only child, and my Husband likes the idea of two. I had planned, when we first started to try to get pregnant, to be some variation of a stay at home Mum – maybe looking after my nieces and nephews, the children of my friends, in order to stay at home and raise my children. I had just finished my degree and entered the workforce, but I wasn’t making enough money to rationalize paying for daycare over getting to raise my own kids. My Husband and I had long conversations about how we would balance responsibilities of parenting and our household budget.
The simple reality is that the life I had planned, the family we had anticipated, doesn’t exist. And today I mourn it, because tomorrow I want to look forward to another year.
There are benefits to being childless: Financial freedom, for one – once you ignore the semi-crippling student debt and soon to be mortgage burden. I can take a weekend off whenever I want and go see my brother, or flit off to Seattle or San Francisco, or Vegas, or wherever with a girlfriend just for fun, and without any worry about childcare – just making sure my Husband will be home to look after the furballs. I can work 12 hour days and get up at 4 am to go rowing without worrying that I am being selfish or taking time away from growing minds that need me. I can put money into my RRSP or buy an adorable pair of shoes just because I want to have them. I can put my career and education first – I certainly wouldn’t be halfway through a masters degree and building a reputation for myself if I had become a stay at home Mum. In short, I can prioritize myself in a way, and as a luxury, that those around me with children cannot.
I try to remind myself of the freedoms afforded me every day – and I do enjoy them – because I need to remember that there is never just one path, and one place to find value.
But today I will let myself grieve the life I thought I would have. And tomorrow I start another year, and I will look forward to what it will bring.