This post originally appeared on Girl's Gotta Eat, Lauren's chronicle of her dating adventures.
If you’ve ever wondered how I got to be such a freak, you’ll probably rest assured knowing that I’m an only child.
My parents are my best friends, my greatest supporters, and my most trusted confidantes. I had a really great childhood. But for years all I wanted was a little sister.
I begged my mom for one until I was about 10 years old, when I somehow overheard her conversation with my dad about the possibility of being pregnant.
I of course BURST into the room, ECSTATIC at the news. My mom finally shared with me that yes – there was an incredibly small chance that she might be pregnant, but that it was highly unlikely, and not to get my hopes up.
I of course ran across the street to tell my neighbor Stacy that I was finally getting a little sister.
“UGH! But you’re so lucky! You have so many Barbie’s! And toys! Those will be cut in HALF once she comes along”, Stacy dramatically warned.
This was something that in 10 years of only child-dom, I’d had yet to consider.
“And WORSE” she exclaimed… “what if you get a BRIAN?!?!”
Brian, of course, was her WRETCHED older brother who made our lives absolutely MISERABLE. Like – this kid was actually the worst, you guys.
Again, an outcome I hadn’t pondered.
I ran home and for the first time in my life – said a prayer. I prayed to stay an only child for as long as I lived.
Spoiler alert: prayer came true, kids. It’s me myself and I, and that is just the way I LIKE IT.
Fast forward to when I was 23 years old. My mom was in Chicago, visiting me for a long weekend. We were riding the bus, and I told her that I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to have children.
“What?” she exclaimed. “But you love kids! You’re so good with them!”
She wasn’t wrong (#humble). At the time I was a nanny for several families I adored, I’d always babysat growing up, and for years I’d so badly wanted a younger sibling.
I told her that yes, I love children, but I just wasn’t sure if it was for me. I’m very career-driven and I like my life the way it is! I’m a city-dweller, and I’d come to the realization that having a family was an option, but not the only option.
My mom then shared with me that when I was conceived (which was planned), she hadn’t really been sure that she was ready for kids. She’s the oldest of 4, and had a really big part in raising her siblings. She wasn’t sure if she was ready for that responsibility x100 all over again. But she and my dad had been married for over a year, he was ready, she was 30 years old, so she decided that the time had come.
And as soon I came, she wanted another. And it never happened. And she had an ache inside for years that didn’t go away.
This was all news to me, and my heart broke for my mom. My best friend.
I had no idea what that ache felt like, or that she’d been so devastated that she could never conceive again (and of course, I selfishly felt badly for praying that she wasn’t pregnant all those years before).
She told me that I had plenty of time to decide if I wanted kids, and there was no need to make a decision now – but she was pretty sure I’d change my mind.
A few months after that conversation, I started dating someone who didn’t want children. And because I was leaning that way myself, it was easy to adopt that mentality.
A few years passed. I knew that my feelings on the issue hurt my parents, as I’m their only chance at grandchildren (no pressure). But they’re wonderful and supportive and of course they understood.
And then I watched the series finale of Parenthood.
*SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD, MY FRIENDS*
Parenthood is this awesome show about the Braverman family. The grandparents, their four children, and all of those children’s children. Highly, highly recommended Netflix viewing.
For months before the series finale, fans of the show had heard rumors that a member of our beloved Braverman clan would pass away in the final episode.
The series finale rolled around, and we made it through the entire hour with NO DEATHS, thinking we were home free. And then, in the final few minutes, patriarch of the family Grandpa Zeke passes away peacefully in his armchair.
Immediately after Zeke is discovered by his wife Millie (*sobbing begins*), we cut to a celebration of his life on a baseball field with the entire family (the Braverman’s love their baseball #Americuh). They scatter his ashes, and then break out into a game. They’re laughing, and playing, and moving on.
Oh, and a really gorgeous acoustic version of “Forever Young” by Rhiannon Giddens and Iron & Wine is playing.
As I lay in bed alone watching the finale, I SOBBED. I was having such a profound moment of clarity about why one might choose to have children – something I’d never specifically considered before.
As we watched the Braverman’s walk off the field arm in arm, I realized that even though Zeke was gone, he left behind a profound legacy. His family. It wasn’t about his career, or his possessions, or the things he’d crossed off his bucket list. The purpose of his life was people, and the morals and humanity he’d instilled in them before he was gone.
As someone who’s spent a lot of time focusing on the relationships in my life, I’d somehow missed this pretty major idea – even though my parents always drilled into my head that family and friends are the most important thing.
I’d spent years dreaming of a successful career on stage, but in doing so, I’d neglected the other major legacy to leave behind someday. My people. Suddenly, nothing else seemed quite so simple; so powerful.
It may sound silly that an episode of television is what, over time, provided me with the clarity to realize that I want children someday. But it’s stuck with me. And it was a physical and artistic representation of what my parents instilled in me, their only daughter, since day 1.
Having children is a deeply personal choice that the majority of women and men will face during their lifetime. Do I want children today? No. But someday. And I’m really glad I figured it out when I did – because I can’t be with a partner who doesn’t feel the same.
And let me tell you…that has dramatically changed my outlook when it comes to dating. I’ve begun to feel that ache my Mom described to me years ago. I’m at the point in my life where I have no interest in wasting my time dating someone who doesn’t have the same long-term goals as I do.
My grandma always said that when she met my grandpa her ‘ovaries jingled and jangled and she knew he was the one’. I suppose I finally, truly understand what she meant.