There is only one goal in my life that I have yet to accomplish: I would like to have a family. There are all kinds of reasons why people want families, and why people don’t. I don’t really have a reason, or if I do, it’s very simple. My immediate family is very close, though small, and I grew up in a home that was full of love. I have always wanted to carry on with that love and create more of it, both to give and to receive.
I’ve never been in a hurry, but I had a specific plan of what I wanted and how I wanted it to happen. From my childhood through my early 30s, this meant finding the right guy, dating for some time, getting married, enjoying being married for a few years, having a kid, then having another one. Happy little family, done the traditional way.
Life is what happens when we are busy making plans.
I’m 37 years old now, and no closer to accomplishing this “goal” than I was at age 23. Well, I think (I hope) I’m probably more mature and have had some life experience that makes me better equipped to handle a long-term partnership and raising a kid or two. I have also learned two major life lessons along the way:
1. It’s good to have goals. Personal goals of completing school, hitting certain fitness milestones, or creating financial health are all dependent on just you, and are largely within your control, though you may have to adjust a few parameters here and there. But trying to make a goal of something that is dependent upon another person — such as a relationship or lifelong partnership — will only lead to bad choices and a sense of failure.
Finding someone to spend your life with, raise a family with, grow old with — this is not something entirely within one’s control, not if you want it to be the right person. The twists and turns of life might bring you your soulmate at age 18 (in the case of some friends of mine), or find you happy and solo until you meet someone who rocks your world at age 50 (in the case of another friend). In my case, spending ages 28 to 35 in a state of chronic illness and limited social interaction put a damper on what some might consider “prime” years. Age is arbitrary . . . it’s essentially a meaningless number when it comes to your life and what you do with it and how you give it meaning. Yes, there is that biological clock thing. But that leads me to the other lesson I’ve learned . . .
2. Families come in all shapes, sizes, sorts, compositions, and relations. I realized several years ago that my “plan” of getting married and giving birth to 2.3 children just may not be in the cards for me. I may not find a partner during my childbearing years (see #1). Fertility at my age is uncertain. I could have a child on my own, it is nice to have that option, though I know my personality is not cut out for voluntary single parenthood. The person I end up creating a life with could have children already. With my health history, adoption could be difficult for me. Two children would be nice, but these days I could end up with quadruplets. Any of these options is possible.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not desperate. I’m far from lonely. Were that the case, I would have settled a long time ago (and possibly be divorced and single parenting, or at least unhappy, by now). The other option, of course, is that I don’t find a partner or have children at all. That’s okay, too. Because it’s possible to create a family for oneself with no husband and no children, by keeping relatives and friends and loved ones around. Nurturing those relationships brings tremendous fulfillment and love to one’s life, and I am lucky enough to have that in spades.
That’s why I like the title of this post, something I hope to do in life. If I were desperate, or if this were within my control, having a family of my own would be something I plan to do. In this case, not only is it something I can’t plan, it’s something I wouldn’t want to. I’m enjoying creating a full and happy life for myself, and as that life takes me on its journey, I will be pleased to see wherever I end up.