Yesterday was Mother's Day. My family all converged and had supper and the usual brouhaha that goes along with a loud family such as mine. And while all of this is going on, I'm looking around and it dawns on me, as it has of late, that I am the only one in the room who is alone, on their own.
My brother has his wife, his son, and the baby on the way. My little sister came with her fiance. My parents of course, were also there. They all sat around the table, six conversations going at once and all I could think was - will it always be this way? Have I finally become the 'spinster aunt'? My sister and I used to joke that we would grow old and become a real live version of Selma and Patty. Now she's engaged and I'm left on my own.
Then I wondered - what do we get? The disenfranchised among us that didn't follow the usual route of marriage and kids? At the office we celebrate with cake and gifts all those who pledge themselves to someone else, then go forth to procreate. But what about the rest of us? What do we get? The pity and disdain of our peers as they cluck their tongues and shake their head in mock despair? Look at her, poor thing. Can't get a man. Tsk. As if that were the only stick I was measured against. As if my worth could only be tallied by that solitary standard.
I suppose I could have married. There was opportunity. I could have plunged forth and done the deed. I could have even ignored my lack of maternal leanings and decided to pop out a few ankle-biters too. But my heart wasn't in either of those scenarios. Not at the time, and the procreation part not even still.
So what do we get? If it never happens, will I look back in regret and think of all the missed chances I should have taken? Will I wonder if I had gone ahead would I have lived comfortably, secure in the knowledge that while I didn't necessarily love my husband he was a nice guy and I would be content. Content. It seems such an ugly word. Like you settled. Like you sold yourself short. Like you gave up.
I'm a romance writer who has never had a long term relationship of any great significance. The irony of this fact is not lost on me. But as I sat there and looked around the table at my happy family and their lives I understood something very clearly. That wasn't meant to be my life. The fates have something far more grander in scale for me. I will not have to settle. I will follow my dreams, and in taking that path, meandering as it may be, I'll find all the things I need to make me happy, not just content.
What do I get? I get the knowledge that no matter how hard it was, no matter how long I had to wait, that in the end I believed enough in myself to hang on, to grab the brass ring and never let go, to never--ever--sell myself short. I might not get a party for it, or presents or cake, but at the end of the road at least I won't look back and say with a heavy sigh, damn...I can't believe I just settled.