Life is a series of choices we make with the information at hand. Sometimes, the choice turns out wonderful: say yes to going out with friends, meet a cute guy in a bar, fall in love, and get married (yes, this actually happened to a friend of mine!). Sometimes, it’s not so great: quit one job for another, only to get laid off during the recession (and this happened to way too many people recently). No matter what the outcome, there can be element of what if. What if….
What if I had moved to New York back in 2001 like I had been considering?
What if I hadn’t replied to that email from my now husband back in 2002? Would we have ever met?
What if….you get the drift….
But, what about the most profound change in my life during the past four years? What if I hadn’t had kids?
This week’s, Writer’s Workshop from Mama Kat’s asks just that question. It’s both provocative–and terrifying.
Having children has been a joy I couldn’t have described before. It’s exhausting, exhilarating, and oh so rewarding. It’s the pleasure of having someone who loves you boundlessly and without judgment (at least until the teenage years). And, it’s fear; fear that something awful could happen to these little people you so desperately want to keep safe.
But, what if I didn’t know the happiness and worry of having kids?
(Long pause here while I think.)
I would travel. I would get to the last two continents in my quest to get to all seven; Antarctica and Australia would await no longer! Hello to Mauritius, Bora Bora, and New Zealand.
I would read more books. And, I don’t mean kids books. I mean complex, meaningful stories that require concentration and deep thought. And don’t have spit out on the back cover.
I would have more dates with my husband. We’d go dancing and go out to eat at restaurants that served more than pizza. I’d wear impossibly high heels.
I would volunteer. Before kids, I served on the board of a nonprofit, and gave my time and attention to missions in which I believe. Since kids, I haven’t found the time to do this, and I miss it.
I would exercise more. OK, I’m imagining that this is me with free time, right? So, I would try pilates, I’d do more hot yoga, and maybe, just maybe, I’d so so much yoga that I would learn to stand on my head.
I would be a better friend. The tough adjustment to kids is the incredible lack of free time and the sheer exhaustion. What suffers, as a result, is housework (not so important) and energy for friendships (very important). You resort to Facebook and infrequent phone calls. So, I’d be more attentive to my friends.
But, in the end, I wouldn’t want that part of my life again. Oh, it was fabulous to sleep past 5 AM–that is one part of my pre-kids life that I would not mind getting back!–but I like my life without the what if wondering. I’ll take it all (pretty much) just the way it is.