#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?

#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?

#LongDistanceLove

With all of the flying I’m doing these days, I can’t help but want to hop on the soonest flight to the U.K . My partner, Stephen, lives in England and needless to say, the distance apart is painful. This is both our first long distance relationship (LDR) and we are determine to make it work- we love each other madly (DUH). Even though many have told me that LDRs never last and aren’t worth the torment, I know that a relationship doesn’t need a static set of geographic coordinates to make it worthwhile and permanent.

If you want to live together, you first need to learn how to live apart.” – Anonymous

I’m a firmer believer of this concept. Stephen and I text each other daily on WhatsApp and have a scheduled video chat date during the weekend. Before he left the States, we talked about how we talk: How often should be message each other? When would be good times to chat? Etc. Setting up healthy communication boundaries and patterns help us set realistic expectations and avoid miscommunication and anxiety.

Couples in LDRs are actually reported developing stronger, more intimate bonds than their close couple counterparts- they are usually more vulnerable and disclose more to their partner. All that phone time is actually making you better at communicating. Being apart forces your communication skills to be razor sharp… Communication is the bedrock of any relationship, but when you’re in an LDR, talking is often all you have.

The thing I actually do love about being in LDR is my freedom. It’s too easy to fall into the  same, boring rut of seeing someone every day and doing the same time when in a traditional relationship. In this one, I’m able to cultivate a life outside of the relationship I have with Stephen. For all of the downsides to an LDR, that’s one major perk: lots of free time to invest in me and me alone. I’m able to make time for work, my friends and my extracurriculars. Our time apart also makes our time together more special.

One of the things that Stephen and I are doing right now is firming plans to live together- we’re uncertain where but we’re figuring out a timeline and suggesting options to make us being together as easy and seamless as possible. Moving to the U.K. getting married. Finding work abroad. Relationships can’t survive on an indefinite current forever- personal goals and plans must be discussed in order to merge your lives into the same place.

Whether you’re living together or 5,000 miles apart, no relationship is easy. I remind myself of this when I start to feel lonely and my brain starts spinning with negativity. I challenge my doubts all the time (especially when I’m missing physical intimacy) but distance doesn’t kill love- doubts do. During those moments, I share my frustration with Stephen or write my feelings down in my journal. I uptight myself and remind me that this love, my darling Stephen, is worth everything feeling in the world, both good and bad ones. I know that when you find love, you hold onto it with everything you can.

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder… Have you been in a LDR, dear reader? If so, any tips or tricks?