I am a straight, single woman. And I have just been dumped by a female friend.
Woman on the Verge of Having Kids: About three months ago, Lana got a boyfriend. And since then, nothing has been the same between us. Not because I am not happy for her, but as far as I can tell, because I do not share her desperation to get married.
Lana and I met at a Friday night dinner for Jewish singles. I am 38. She is 26. I used to joke that our meeting was proof one could find love on the singles scene. We hit it off and quickly began gossiping, seeing plays, and going to events together.
About three months ago, Lana met her boyfriend, Aaron, who seemed like a nice enough guy. Knowing she was eager to find a relationship, I was happy for her. But soon after she began seeing him, I noticed that, when I asked her anything about him, she would abruptly change the subject to inquire about one of the several men I was seeing.
"What's going on with Larry?" she would say with urgency. "And how about Mark? Is it going anywhere? Are you going to visit him? Do you think you'll get married?"
In answer to Lana's questions, I shared with her what I will share with you -- that in my thirties, with a fulfilling career and half a lifetime of experiences behind me, while the men in my life are attractive to me in different ways (short of falling head-over-heels madly in love), it will be tough for me to commit to becoming a wife. I love my single life and my freedom so much, it is hard to imagine giving them up.
But since I also want a baby, on balance, single motherhood may turn out to be the best option for me.
"But don't you want a guy who 'gets' you?" Lana asks.
Of course I do. Don't we all? But wonderful as men can be, my experiences have taught me that the romantic relationship that fulfills the lioness's share of a woman's needs is rare indeed. And true love can't be forced.
When I was in high school, I read about a woman who had chosen to remain single. When asked, at the end of her life, why she had never married, she replied, "It would take a very good husband to be better than none at all."
Recently it was Lana's 26th birthday. Over the phone, I helped her choose a birthday cake with an elaborate design of icing flowers, and I brought it to the party as her birthday gift, cradling it protectively through the crowded city streets.
At the lounge, Lana greeted me with a shriek and a hug. After wishing her a happy birthday, chatting for a minute, and handing the cake to the manager, I told her I was looking forward to meeting her boyfriend.
"Sure, sure," she said, her big brown eyes darting around. Then she excused herself and hunkered down on the other side of the room with Aaron and his friends. Parked on his lap, she drank from his umbrella'd drink and continued squealing.
I got myself a Cosmo and sat down. Lana did not make any attempt to include me or introduce me to her boyfriend.
When it was time to leave the party, I went over to say goodbye. Aaron said, "Thanks so much for getting Lana the cake. She totally loves it."
"It was my pleasure," I said, holding out my hand to shake. "It's nice to meet you."
Lana jumped up and put her arm around Aaron.
"Thanks-so-much-for-coming-did-you-have-fun?" she asked breathlessly, slurring a little.
"Sure, hon," I said.
That was a month ago. After the party, Lana canceled plans with me twice and I stopped getting e-mails and phone calls from her. When I asked, via e-mail, whether I'd done something to offend her, she wrote, "I continue to care about you, but you must realize I'm trying to grow my business in a difficult economy and there is an amount of time that must be devoted to that. You shouldn't read into it."
"I understand you are busy, but friendship is a two-way street," I wrote back. "When you ignore me and write 'You shouldn't read into it,' I feel totally dismissed. Anyway, when you are ready to discuss, I will be here."
"It's in your imagination," she wrote back. "If you don't feel you've gotten enough attention when I've been very busy with my new business and relationship, that's just not my problem."
I replied, "That's it, after two years of friendship?"
She retorted, "Look, I have a boyfriend now, okay? Just because you can't commit to anyone doesn't mean you're going to ruin it for me!"
To which my genuinely puzzled response was, "What are you talking about? Ruin what?"
I never heard back from her.
Over the next few days, I attempted to make sense of our nonsensical falling-out. Was Lana afraid that I was some crazy cougar who was plotting to steal her young hunk right out from under her? Or was my "happily single" status a threat to her "desperately seeking husband" position?
In old Salem, townspeople used to burn "witches" at the stake or drown them. As it happens, a lot of these "witches" were unmarried, or widowed, single women. Explanations for the Salem witch trials include the economic and political. But personally, I think the fear of single women had something to do with it.
Despite what we hear and see everywhere from fairy tales to bridal magazines, some women simply don't need to be married to be happy-ever-after. Perhaps those powers that some women possess -- the abilities to be emotionally self-reliant, and to nurture each other -- could account for some of society's fear?
Because even in 2009, some people are confused and threatened by a single woman who is not desperate to get married. Perhaps, like my friend Lana, they want their friends to share their insecurities.
Not all women need to be married to be good mothers. Society has already begun to figure this out. But many people who are either married, or who dream of being married, are not able to consider this possibility.
I have not given up on my search for committed love. But I want to be a mom, and I'm not going to force anything. If I don't fall in love in time, I will have a baby on my own.
Don't burn me at the stake for it.
|Woman on the Verge of Having Kids: She's single, in her 30s, and on a mission to outrun her biological clock.|