Were you ever told not to follow your ‘instincts’? Probably not. Usually people say to you ‘follow your gut feeling’ aka instincts. In my late 20’s after years of arguing with myself that this world is simply not good enough of a place to put another human life into, I suddenly had this overwhelming need, instinct, gut feeling, call it what you may, that I wanted to get married, have children and be a mom. This comes from a person who graduated from university with a engineering degree where I studied some environmental sustainability and was exposed to facts about life on earth that probably the general public has no clue about. The outlook of a good life was rather dim after learning all of those sad and negative facts. Yet, my heart and soul yearned to have a family with at least two kids. So in my late twenties, and I dated a lot in my twenties, I had changed from solely being this career driven woman (and I work in a male dominant industry) to this person who wanted what everyone else (or what society stipulates to be normal) has: a family. A marriage. Husband. House. Kids. Perhaps a dog or a cat. So that became my new goal, my new aspiration. But as it turned out, that goal was very hard to attain, for me at least. It was easier for me to put myself through 4 gruelling years of engineering through university, than it was for me to find someone to share my newfound dream with.
My first real relationship, where I actually moved in with my boyfriend, I thought was going to be it for me. He was going to be the father of my children. After all, he bought a townhouse we both moved in to with three bedrooms and a fenced in backyard. I helped pay the mortgage. We were in love. We had two cars between the two of us, and we had a dog (his dog), and he already had a son from a previous relationship so I knew he had experience being a good dad – what could possibly go wrong here?? I was right on my way to what I had dreamed of. Except, one day, after about a year of living together we talked about the future. And I told him that I would like to one day get married and have a family. He looked at me, and said ‘I don’t want any more kids’. It was confusing to me as his son he’d only see every two or three weekends. I couldn’t understand why he would be so opposed to having children with me. I didn’t see any red flags here, probably because I didn’t want to see my dream flush down the toilet. So I said to him that I will give him a year to think about it all before totally canning the idea of having a family with me. That being said, the next twelve months went by pretty fast. We both had careers that got us out of the house before at 6am and home by 6pm, add hobbies etc…. typical rat race life. Sometimes boggles the mind how anyone ever has time for anything. A year later, two weeks before Christmas I was standing in the kitchen cleaning up dinner, and he comes to me and says ‘you know how you asked me to think about marriage and having kids? Well, I never want to get married to you or anybody and I never want to have more kids’. Wham! I was just slammed to the ground right there. This was after living together for two years, in a relationship where I put in my fair share or more. I was not about to lay down as a doormat at that moment. I said that we are over. Funny thing was that his face dropped and he said ‘it doesn’t have to be over’. Like, really?? Honestly?? What woman who has any self respect, would actually remain in that relationship. I wasn’t about to trash my dreams for being his cleaning lady, cook and lover on call for the rest of my life – for what exactly? Why are men still in this 1950’s mode where women are just their crutch at home and otherwise have no rights or needs or dreams. Within four months of that I was moved out. My needs, my dreams of having a family were still much alive though. I moved in with a girl friend of mine as an interim solution while my condo I bought was being built. My very own brand spankin’ new condo was ready to be moved into that November. I was sure that in my new environment I was going to find my life falling into place!
Everything was wonderful. The place smelled so new. I bought some new furniture and decorated each room. I even rented the bottom half of my condo out since I wasn’t using it, which supplemented my mortgage. My career was going better than ever. I had friends and hobbies. In short, my life (on paper), was perfect. But I still had that horrid emptiness in my heart. That part of me that still wanted a family was still there. I was dating a lot. The following summer I think I dated 4 guys at the same time, and at one time even 6. It was so hard to make time for all of this, not to mention keeping all the info straight about these guys and whom I’ve told what. It was stressful. And even among all that nonsense dating, was there even one guy I would have considered to enter into a longer relationship with? No! The thought of getting married to any one of them wanted to make me run for the hills. They were all the wrong men. After that summer, I fell into somewhat of a depression I would say. I recall sitting on the floor of my kitchen in my new condo, bawling my eyes out about my pathetic life that despite what I thought, looked good on paper (see what I mean about getting labelled as ‘not having a problem?’). Well I was having a problem. I was unhappy with my life, and with where I was in my life. I sat there cursing at God, and remember clearly saying that I yet again, won’t take this pathetic road I’m on that perhaps I was slated to go down. This single life, this life that I didn’t want, I wasn’t going to take. I was going to fight the present, the way things are and I was going to fulfil what my instincts wanted me to have: a family, children and a husband.
That August I spoke to my friend Lesley, who was my housemate at one point before she moved to London, UK. She knew of my (mental) state at that point, and invited me to spend a week in London with her and then we’d also hop over to Germany to go to the Oktoberfest in Munich. The trip was booked in late September. I recall getting on that airplane, nervous as hell, as I wasn’t even sure of myself being able to go on a trip on my own. How pathetic. Thankfully, my nervousness didn’t last much beyond take off, and the relief of being far away from my every day grind set in. London blew me out of the water the minute I got there. This trip was a huge turning point in my life. It totally revived me, and ironically, I should have been completely exhausted due to lack of sleep while there. It was one of the best things I could have done for myself. Lesley had opened my eyes to consider perhaps an option B in life. Option B was escape. Escape and move to Europe (a total possibility because I have a european passport). So when I got back home, I started taking steps toward plan B. I sought out property managers to rent out my furnished condo, started saving some money and looked into whether I could take a sabbatical or had to quit work. Five months into that plan had passed. The night of the opening of the winter olympics in Vancouver, changed my entire life path. I met the man I married that night. And it wasn’t profound. He was not some handsome knight in shining armour. But he had an uncanny charm. He seemed to be able to read everything off my lips. At some point I googled him because I thought he wasn’t who he was and I thought he somehow stalked me. The weeks to follow I was entered some kind of euphoria because of him. I thought, ‘Wow, so this is how it feels to meet ‘the one”. Every girls’ dream. And it finally happened to me too. There was a God after all. I was happier than ever when we talked about marriage and neither one of us wanted to run for the hills at that thought. That time was topped with the day I found out I was pregnant with my son. Then topped again with getting married and topped again with the birth of my son. Life seemed perfect. A dream! My long awaited days had come. I got to finally have that wish. My desire was getting fulfilled. Hurray!! I was finally a mom. I finally had that family I so desired with every fibre of my being. It all had such great potential…
So I want to touch on what I think should be the lesson in that story of my life. First of, I think I was immature in a lot of ways. I didn’t see any of the red flags the men waved into my face. That was plainly because I didn’t want to see those red flags as they would have become part of the problem and not the solution to my instinctual need. I had but one goal, and I wasn’t about to give up on that one goal, not realizing the potential consequences. Everything has a consequence. Everything has a price. I don’t know what I could have ever done to suffocate that instinctual need to want to have children. I felt like I was dying inside if I couldn’t have a child. What do you say to a person who feels like that? You certainly not going to tell her to ignore or forget about that dream. It’s a completely natural thing to want that as a human being. My problem is that I made decisions based on my emotions only. I was so desperate to fulfil my dream, that I looked past a lot of red flags. And ignoring these red flags was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. I marched into a life of being totally controlled by my husband. That was the consequence, the price I had to pay for the dream that came true for me. The moral of the story is to follow your heart, your instinct, but to never ever ever stop using your brain, your rational mind. Even when it seems completely perfect – there is no such thing! We don’t live in a Disney movie with guaranteed happy ending. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off following through with plan B, which may have even lead to plan A in the end. Always use your brain. Always calculate potential consequences, and that old adage is true: when something seems too good to be true – it is. Take nothing for granted.