It’s my birthday this month.
I love my birthday. I really, truly do. On that blessed day, I make a point to excitedly scream at every single person I encounter, “IT’S MY BIRTHDAAAAAAYYYYY!”
I advertise my birthday by wearing T-shirts, banners, crowns, pieces of flair – whatever I can do to get the most attention. It’s totally obnoxious, but come on.
IT’S MY BIRTHDAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!
This year, however, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. My birthday will land on a Thursday. I’m not planning a party. (I actually think it’s gross to plan your own birthday party.) Most everyone is out of town for Labor Day weekend, anyway.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not feeling sorry for myself (okay, maybe a little). The truth is, I just don’t think I’m all that excited.
I’m going to be thirty-five.
I’m not at all where I thought I’d be. If life had gone as I planned/fantasized, I’d already have a Tony award, TV series, a budding film career, a couple of albums and books out, a devastatingly handsome and devoted husband, and be pushing out my second baby – all by the age of 35.
I know. Laugh it up with me.
The career stuff is not to be bemoaned. I am talented, and I am successful, even if I haven’t completely “made it” yet. I still believe that we never, truly “arrive”, else we’d be terribly bored. The nature of my career affords me the luxury of not being time-sensitive. With the help of perspective (and therapy), I’ve really learned to calm down and enjoy the ride. I can do a whole bunch of things. I write. I sing. I act. I direct. I teach. I design. I perform. I lead. I play. Surely I can make a living with at least one of the talents God has graciously bestowed upon me.
The truth of the matter is, my body is a time-sensitive machine, and the desire for sex (oh, LORD have mercy!) and babies is at an all-time high.
I can’t help it. It’s how I was made.
I want to have a baby. Or two. Or several.
But I can’t. I have no husband, and I would never choose to be a single mother just to fulfill some biological or egotistical reproductive desire. So, in twenty-six days I will turn 35, and officially be labeled “high risk” in the childbearing department.
It just is what it is.
I feel like I don’t have the right to complain. I had the opportunity to have children in my marriage, and I chose not to. In fact, I was terrified. I did everything possible to prevent pregnancy. I used birth control and condoms. Part of it was due to my own immaturity and selfishness, but deep down, I never felt safe enough to have a baby with X. Even though I wanted kids, I just couldn’t do it, and I’m so glad I didn’t. My divorce would have been much more painful; involved; devastating, and I’d be tied to X and his family forever.
God is good.
As much as I rejoice in my newfound identity, and the perspective, wisdom and humility I’ve gained throughout this journey, I’m still turning 35 in a few weeks. I have no prospect of even a date in sight, much less a boyfriend/husband/child.
I find myself in a common predicament. There are many amazing, 30-something, successful single women in the city who want exactly what I do: a stable husband and family, and a career.
Having been married, I know that life isn’t “complete” when we find a partner. Yes, those first stages of courtship and romance are blissful; exciting, and you can’t even breathe when the other person is out of your arms. I long for the day when my heart and stomach flutters in the presence of a man. I ache to feel lovesick again. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.
But real love quickly grows out of its infancy of “feeling”, and becomes complete in maturity, and the constancy — almost the difficulty — of it, is what makes it so special.
I can’t wait for the day when a man chooses to love me, no matter what.
Yet I can. I’m willing to wait. There’s no rush. I want it to be right. I do not want to get divorced again. Oh, HELL to the no. (And, please, no more Sister Wives. They’re amusing, but ultimately tiresome.)
At the same time, I don’t have a lot of time. I would like the opportunity to physically bear children. I also do not want to be in my 40s when this potential arises. This is obviously completely out of my control, and, as the clock continues to tick, I am accepting of the very real possibility that I may never have children.
Per usual, my casual musings invite the following commentary:
Most Sensible, Cliché and Inarguable Statement: “I don’t understand why someone as beautiful, talented and smart as you could be having such a hard time finding a date. Don’t worry. You’ll meet “The One” when you least expect it. He’s out there, somewhere. And you have plenty of time to have a baby. Enjoy your life as it is right now!”
Smug Marrieds with Smug Babies: “I’m too busy posting Instagram photos of my amazing, happy life to bother with your sad, single one – AREN’T MY HUSBAND AND KIDS THE BEST IN THE WORLD??! — but if you want my input, refer to the aforementioned. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish these cupcakes – I found the perfect Pinterest recipe! — for my MOPS meeting.”
Smug Pregnant People: “Ohhh, my goodness, I can’t wait to get this baby out. One last date night with the ‘hubs’ before Junior arrives! Did you get the invitation to my baby shower yet? Make sure you check the registry: we want the bathtime Sophie the Giraffe, and organic nipple cream.”
Tired Marrieds: “I am so living vicariously through you. Take. Your. Time. There are plenty of good men out there, whose vas deferens are still functioning. Plus, kids are expensive.”
People Who Overspiritualize and Ignore the Reality of the Situation, But Are Also Inarguable Because They Pray for You: “God will give you the desires of your heart. I’m praying for a husband to come your way. I’ll pray for your future children.”
Random Male Advice: “Invest in a new vibrator and be glad your boobs aren’t leaking.”
Divorced People With Kids: “I’m just so glad I can focus on me now. I have all the time in the world to find the right relationship, especially since my ex has the kids half the time.”
Other Divorced People With Kids: “God, if I didn’t have my kids, I don’t know what I’d do.”
Single 30-something Friends: “If I have to go to one more wedding or baby shower, I’m going to vomit. I wish I could experience the joy of a happy life, with a family. What is wrong with me; why won’t anyone choose me? I have so much to offer, but I’m all alone.”
Other Single 30-something Friends: “Here’s the deal: when we hit 40, I’ve got dibs on a Chinese baby girl, and you adopt an Ethiopian one. Else we’re headed to the sperm bank with our frozen eggs.”
Actually Helpful and Accurate Statement From a Real Married with Real Babies: “The grass is always greener. You want what I have, and I want what you have. So often we look at each other’s life and imagine the other’s blessings for ourselves, completely overlooking that in our own hands, we are in possession of answered prayers.”
Here’s the truth: I am actually very happy with my life, as is.
I also want more.
I understand that we don’t always get what we want, when we want it. And as far as God fulfilling the desires of my heart? Well, I now know that His desires for me astoundingly surpass anything I imagine, dream, or want for myself.
So, as my 35th birthday rounds the corner, I rejoice in the fact that I am, indeed, in possession of answered prayers. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. What is more, God has done incredible things for me. It took me losing everything to gain a real life, and I trust that life will be nothing short of amazing, no matter what.