#PlanB

Ever since my parents’ divorce 24 years ago, I dreamed about creating a happy, nuclear family of my own- one with my husband, four kids and a barn filled with animals. That was always my dream; that was always my plan.

Of course, life never goes the way you plan.

I’ve had several long-term relationships throughout my adult life but nothing lasted. The older I get, the more I feel like I’m not going to find that man I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with, that one I’m supposed to have a family with. That thought used to bother the hell out of me but over the past year or so, I’m beginning to feel better about it. Nevertheless, I always felt like I was supposed to be a mother and have my family. I am going to be a mother one day.

When I was diagnosed with cancer last year, my doctor recommended me to get a full hysterectomy. If I didn’t, there is a greater chance of the cancer coming back. I’m stubborn and opted not to get that (instead, I got a cone biopsy). I will need to get a hysterectomy sometimes before my 40s so I’m on a timeline to get pregnant.

My new life trajectory is find a better job, save and fix my finances (which aren’t too bad. I’m almost done paying off my student loan and have no credit card debt). Have a baby. Maybe move back to Nevada to be closer to my mom. Perhaps buy a house. And I’m going to do all this alone.

I know there is a great risk raising a child alone, especially mental health and financial wise. I consider myself to be my best 100% self when I’m single- it’s when I’m happiest and feel my emotionally strongest. I have given so much of my time and energy into finding someone in order to fit this perfect daydream I have. But that’s all it is- a dream. And I have new ones to pursue. I’m not completely voiding myself of a relationship- if I meet someone great and things positively progress forwards, then great! But I decided that I’m no longer going to actively pursue romantic relationships. I just don’t want the stress and complications of dating and relationships anymore, especially now that I’m working toward this new goal.

I’m trying my best to consider all my options, as well as keep them open. I talked with some of male friends about them donating their sperm- they would have no legal right to the child and their names wouldn’t appear on any birth records. I know that I don’t have to conceive traditionally (even though I always wanted to experience pregnancy). I also started looking at foster care training programs in Texas- I would love to give a child in need a home and possibly adopt them (like how I was adopted).

I read countless studies of the benefits of raising a child in a two parent household and I don’t want to be that stereotype of a Black single mom but screw that all. I know that I will be a great mom one day and that I have a lot fo love to give a child. I used to think families had to look a certain way. Now, I know better and differently. Family is whatever you make it. I look at the people I call my family- they consist mostly of my best friends from college. I may never get married or find my “soulmate,” but I am determine to create my own family and my own happy ever after.

If things haven’t worked out for you, dear reader, do you have a plan B?

#Paula

Paula Fletcher was my mother’s best friend since they were in sixth grade. They grew up around the corner from each other in New Jersey and celebrated various life milestones together- she was the maid of honor at both of my mother’s weddings (to my father and then, her second husband). A couple of years back, I traveled to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with Paula where we jammed out to the Purple Rain soundtrack and burned a turkey. The last conversation I had with her was back in April, asking her if she needed anything, any help through the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that she was fine and hoped that I was doing well in Austin. Paula recently died of heart failure. She was 58 years old.

I’ve been helping my mom sort through her funeral details. It’s been a challenge with COVID-19 but somehow, we’re making it work. Paula didn’t have much of a family life- my mom was considered her family, and Paula was never married. I asked Mom about this. Growing up, I remember Paula being around often but without a boyfriend or a partner. She said that Paula dated quite a lot but never found “the one.” She focused on her work and her friends. I’ve been thinking a lot about that these past few days, how Paula didn’t have a significant other in her life. She never seemed lonely. Paula had her friends, my mom especially. I can’t help but compare her story to my own- dating around but never settling on one person.

I’ve been floating in and out of relationships this year. My relationships lean more towards a sexual gratification which is great- it’s what I need, and I’m finding myself more alone during the hours that I’m not working. I’m really enjoying this alone time, catching up on books and painting. Perhaps I’m bitter from my last break-up but I struggle with seeing the purpose of a partner. I’m doing great without one. This time, being quarantined, has taught me that I am all-encompassing and I very much enjoy being alone. I don’t want to be with anyone.

What are the benefits of being partnered? Do the benefits of being single outweigh them? I think about Paula and her free spirit without the need to answer to anyone (although my inner feminist says that you don’t need to answer to a partner to begin with). She didn’t need permission or to check in with anyone. She didn’t have children. I asked my mom if Paula ever expressed desire to have kids and she said that she was fine being to the “cool aunt” to me and my siblings. I however, unlike Paula, aspire to have children. Lately, the only benefit that I can come up with to having a partner is to have someone to raise children with (I like to note that I do have several sperm donor options for when/if I choose to have a kid on my own). I have read the benefits of raising a child in a traditional mother/father household. But then again. I know of so many women who are raising bright and well adjusted kids alone, by themselves, as well as great people who were raised by a single parent.

As always, my thoughts eventually venture to death. I like to think that it would be nice to have someone hold my hand on my death bed but then I ask myself if it is the worst thing to die alone? Don’t we all die alone anyway? There are many benefits to being single (I know… I just Googled a bunch). I used to think worst thing in the world was being alone. So much so that I’d chase these awful relationships with awful men who destroyed me emotionally. I once heard that your 20s is when you make the mistakes and your 30s is when you learn the lessons from them. Now at the ripe age of 34, I’ve been reviewing such past mistakes of mine and I came to this conclusion: I’m really good at being single and I really enjoy it. Same as Paula.

Rest in peace, Paula. We miss you and will love you forever. And you, dear reader; even if you’re alone, I hope you don’t feel alone. Being single isn’t a curse- its a gift.

#Kiddlets

A couple of months ago, one of my best friends ended her engagement. The days after the split, we spent hours talking about the future- would she find love again? Would she ever have children? We’d sit in our favorite coffee shop, chugging down cold brew and tried to answer the aforementioned questions. I’d lighten the situation by saying, if she didn’t meet anyone by the time we were 35 years old, we could marry each other, figure out how to get pregnant and raise a family together. At first, she thought I was kidding but then considered my offer. We have the same values. We want the same thing out of life. We both want kids. So, why not? When we’re looking at marriage, we are told to marry our best friend. But what if our best friend is not our sexual partner? What if our best friend is just our best friend?

It was this IG post that got me thinking…

I’ve been reading some accounts of people who married their best friends, mostly in gay-straight relationships. They married each other because of convenience (health benefits and the like) and because they think that their partner is just an all-around awesome individual. Some have children with each other. All this leads me to relationships- they’re different. Every relationship is. I grew up thinking that only a man and woman could get married and have kids (of course, after I came out, I learned differently). The older I get, the more accepting I’ve become of different relationships, like ones of the polyamory variety and asexual ones. Relationship dynamics are different. Society is different. I love heteronormative relationships that don’t follow traditional gender roles. And with the older I get, the more I’ve let go- love is love, romantic or platonic. We should be with the ones we want to be with and live the way we want to live.

I want to start a family one day but man, dating is rough. The last couple of dates me and my friends have been on, the men explicitly expressed their desire not to have children (which is totally fine. You do you). But my friends and I know what we want out of life- to have a big, loving family in a two-parent home. So, if you have the option to get what you want (children), even if it is in a quote-unquote unconventional way, I say, “Why not do it?”

(And Elle- yes, I will have kids with you if we don’t find partners by the time we’re 35.)

Are you married to your best friend, dear reader?

#LosNinos

Teaching Grey the art of a mirror selfie, 2011.

When I lived in Brooklyn, I was a nanny for a little boy named Grey. He was obsessed with musicals and quickly became my adventure buddy- we explored the city together every day. His parents refused to take him on the subway so we rode it often together. We went to Rockaway Beach, Central Park, various museums, the animal shelter, the movies and different restaurants. My favorite days with him were spending wandering different neighborhoods, giving him piggyback rides and singing songs from Grease.

Although I liked my time with Grey and I was told that I was a decent nanny, something about that experience solidified my thought of not having kids. It’s still pretty taboo these days to admit that you don’t want children. I always hear, you’ll change your mind. You’re too young to understand. You’re missing out. No matter how valid your reasons are for not wanting kids, people will insist that it is in your best interest and the best interest of your community to raise a litter.

There are various reasons why I don’t want children. I don’t think I’d be a great mother. I don’t like the state of the world right now- bringing a child into it seems cruel. I’m not financially ready. I enjoy my alone time way too much (even time away from my beloved cat). I’ve seen what pregnancy does to the body and I quite happy with my current frame. I know that I could do what my parents did with me and adopt a child but then I think about serious things like mental health issues. Even with having biological children. I know exactly what I struggle with and don’t deny that I come from a family with plenty of genetics that I do not wish to pass down.

Don’t get me wrong- I like kids. I would become a nanny again in a heartbeat. For quite some time, I considered going back to university to get my teaching credentials (I’d teach elementary school, third or fourth grade). I always figured that I’d be the “cool aunt” or godmother, knowing that I’m to build my family in another way. I was once told that a family isn’t one without children- that’s a big lie. Having a family is incredibly important to me but there are so many ways to describe a family- I am one with my partner and my cat. My close friends are my family. Children are not required to achieve such status. Family is a feeling, not the number of offspring.

What are your thoughts about children, dear reader? Do you want them? Or not?