If I’d never had kids, I’d have traveled the world by now. I’d have a career that included frequent dinners at my desk and a steady supply of validation. I’d use the express lane through airport security and only have to buy one grande skinny soy latte and zero strawberry-banana smoothies with whipped cream when I visited Starbucks. The total would come to $3.75 instead of $18.50 and I would I wouldn’t spill it everywhere, either. I’d care about my clothes and linger over breakfast and read the paper all the way through.
I’d buy long, silk scarves and finally a decent pair of leather gloves and when I walked, my heels would click along the sidewalks outside hip, urban cafes. I’d have a skin care routine and hair stylist. The interior of my car would be free of juice and mud stains and possibly smell like vanilla.
If I’d never had kids, my house would be clean. It would be small but welcoming, with throw pillows and expensive upholstered love seats facing a fireplace that’s mostly for show; it’d probably be a bungalow in a burgeoning artist community or historic district with gas lamps and cobblestone streets.
If I’d never had kids, I’d lose myself in a book whenever I wanted. I’d pick every restaurant and belong to a gym I’d actually use. I’d make holidays all about myself, or about nothing at all. Christmas would be about someone else’s children and artwork would be on my walls, not my fridge.
Vacations would be for sunbathing and sleeping in past six. School schedules would mean nothing to me, and summer would be just another season. I’d make plenty of money and then wonder what to do with it. I’d take the time to figure out what my 401K actually does and probably buy things that make my parent friends roll their eyes and say, ‘Must be nice.’
I’d frown at crying children in restaurants, then watch their mothers soothe them or distract them or whisk them away and wonder, ‘How do they know how to do that?’ I’d probably assume childbirth is the most painful thing women can experience.
If I’d never had kids, I’d assume there’s some big secret to raising them. I’d probably–depending on my mood–tell myself things like, ‘it’s not for me,’ or ‘you couldn’t pay me enough,’ or ‘when the time is right’. I’d never guess that there’s no such thing.
And if I kept waiting, and kept waiting, I’d never…actually…get it:
what this is all about.
What we’re doing here.
What comes next.