I’m not sure I know too many people who get to Almost Forty and think “holy shit, this is exactly how I wanted my life to be! all my dreams have come true!” If you’re that person and aren’t an Academy Award winning actor, a self-made millionaire, a politician no one wants to punch in the face, or anything else ridiculously successful and are just bursting with happiness, by all means, explain to me how you got there. Inquiring minds want to know.
The rest of us will be sitting here wondering exactly how many wrong turns we made, whilst also trying to be grateful for where we actually are and all that we do have. And maybe drinking a lot of wine.
I certainly didn’t think I would be 38, single, childless and still not have VP in my title. I was voted most likely to succeed in high school, after all. My parents and all my siblings would probably argue that I am successful. And I am sure many people with whom I’m friends on Facebook would tell me I have a great life. Don’t get me wrong, I do. I love where I live (though I miss LA every single day), I love my pets, I love that I get paid to see movies and work with Real Life Pals each week, I love that I finally got off my figurative ass and started writing again and most of all, I am filthy rich when it comes to friendship, and I love all my people so much it sometimes makes me cry.
But I am not where I thought I would be. Or should be. And I am not alone. I have a lot of single, childless girlfriends. And most of us agree, we are relatively okay with not having kids for a multitude of reasons. But the shitty part is getting to the age range at which that choice is taken away from us all together. Biology can be a real dick.
I have two girlfriends I’ve known since middle school with whom I still talk to quite often. One of them is my sweet friend Cathalee. We were super tight in high school, as we had a lot in common, most notably uncanny abilities to crush on guys we could never date and obsess over professional athletes.
Cathalee is in the top five of Genuinely Good Humans I’ve ever known. I love her dearly, which is why a phone call we had a few months ago broke my heart into a million pieces for her. After battling lady problems that came with excruciating pain and severe anemia for quite some time, not to mention a doctor that failed miserably to diagnose her properly (with whom I would like to have a not so lovely chat), she found out she had a fibroid that had grown to half the size of her uterus and the best option would be a hysterectomy. At 38.
I don’t want to totally speak for her, as it’s her story and feelings to share. She’s written some very personal, very candid blog posts about it herself here, here and here. If you have time to read them, I encourage you to do so. For a very good reason.
There is still spoken and unspoken discrimination against women who do not have children. You can argue with me all you want about it, but it’s there. It exists. We are still considered to be less than. We are still accused of being selfish. We are still told we will regret this and we are failing as women. We are treated as if there is something wrong with us.
First of all, fuck that.
Second of all, not having kids is not always an actual choice we made. And by the way, if it is a choice we have made or decide to make, that is no one else’s goddamn business and it’s perfectly acceptable. It’s 2018. We don’t have to worry about re-populating the species or taking care of farms. I won’t go into the advantages or disadvantages of having kids or not, but can we at long last stop hating on each other for it? This country and this world have lost their collective minds and we, as women, have much bigger issues right now.
Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays Bow Johnson on Black-ish, one of my absolute favorite characters on TV, is 45 and not married and doesn’t have kids. She gave an AMAZING speech about her “situation” at Glamour’s Women of the Year event, which can be found here. This past week, an entertainment trade publication interviewed her and asked about this speech and if if she feels judged for neither being married nor having kids. I leave you with her answer. Because although I can write many poignant, colorful and not always ladylike remarks about this subject, none of them will be better than this:
You know, I don’t know if I feel judged, but that certainly is a paradigm that we’re all still breaking through. Both in how we language it…I mean, even someone today really, truly meant to be supportive in what she was asking, but unconsciously still framed it in a way that was, “I know that you’ve chosen your career over having a family.” And I was like, “No, I haven’t!” I was like, “There was no point in my life where I chose career over a relationship, or over having a child. This just happens to be where I’ve landed.” So I think it’s not the fault of every individual. I think it really is a systemic response to culture’s way of having an expectation of women within patriarchy and all of that. I think we are one of the first generations of women that have a lot more choices and that can actually make some of those choices [carefully]. You know? Which I find both daunting and exciting.