I stood by one of my very best friend’s sides with pride this past weekend as she married the love of her life. She had achieved what so many of us want: a great career, a man who loves her with no hesitation, and an extremely supportive family. I became even more excited these past few days as I noticed a handful of people I’ve known for years getting engaged via social media and declaring their love for who they hope to be their life-long companions. My heart jumped with joy at just the thought of their futures and of my own. I found myself daydreaming about potential playdates, BBQ’s, family trips, and all the special moments I’d share with my own husband and family one day.
It hadn’t occurred to me until just recently that I had completely forgotten about myself while planning my white picket fence dreams. Nowhere had I included the many things I want to accomplish for myself before and after children. “Marriage is a sacrificial commitment that requires death to self,” someone tweeted this morning. “So naturally some personal aspirations will have to be forgotten.”
That statement made me stop in my tracks as I quickly saw my dreams of having both a family and excellent career fading. I have to admit the thought of marriage in my mid-20s and even late 20s has always seemed daunting. The thought of not being able to move across the country at a moment’s notice if my career requires it has never been a thought. The freedom of life with no strings and no kids easily can be taken for granted as a young woman, especially since it’s a freedom that most likely will not always be there. There’s a constant pressure you face as a woman to accomplish “the world” by 30-something. You have to live out your dreams, have kids, meet and fall in love with a man, and sacrifice your singleness all in a short amount of time. It’s a lot, and the thought of giving up “myself” is extremely frightening.
“You’ll just have to get over that fear,” said one friend in her late 20s and married with one kid. “You won’t be able to do everything you want to do; motherhood and marriage just don’t work that way. Being a mother and a wife are two of the most selfless things you’ll ever do in your life. So before you say ‘I do,’ make sure it’s absolutely what you want, because there’s no going back.”
It is what I want. I think.
But like so many powerful women say, “You really can have it all, just not at the same time.”