In 2001, shortly after my 21st birthday a good friend of mine was turning 22. We decided to take a road trip from Northern California to Disneyland for her birthday.
Just before we were going to be leaving, we were talking to some ladies at church about our upcoming trip. I will never forget the “attitude” one lady had. She said, “Wow, that must be nice. I wish I could do that”, in a tone that I perceived to be bitter.
I didn’t really know what to say. Yep, it is pretty nice to be young and single.
It’s nice that we have jobs to pay for the trip and we don’t have husbands to ask for permission.
It’s nice that I was blessed with a brand new car (not without nearly losing my life, though!) and the drive will be comfortable. We can listen to anything we want on the radio. And will sing at the top of our lungs to Shania Twain’s “Man! I feel like a Woman”.
And, YES, it’s nice that we can go on any ride we want. Or we can stay off of any ride we want… because… we don’t have kids. And that’s pretty nice, too!
Of course, I didn’t say any of that. I just smiled and nodded.
I did bring up that conversation up later to my friend, though. I distinctly remember saying, “I don’t want to be like that”.
I didn’t want to resent having kids. I wanted to enjoy my life as a single person and wait until I felt like I had “lived” (whatever, that means) before having kids. And I absolutely didn’t want to make young, carefree girls feel guilty for being… well, young and carefree.
That’s a huge reason why I didn’t pursue dating relationships until I was in my thirties. Not necessarily that conversation, though it was permanently engrained in my mind, but I did not want to be bitter. I wanted to enjoy my life and my kids when that time came.
Fast forward thirteen years. For the most part, thirteen pretty good years. I did a lot of things that I wanted to do. I went places. I made a big move like I had always dreamed of doing (by the beach… another dream). I spent the majority of my adult life in a very fulfilling career.
I enjoyed my life.
I loved my life.
As I was nearing 35 I really did feel “ready” to start a family. I really did feel like the young, carefree, unattached part of my life was behind me. I had a good run but I was ready to settle down.
Yet, for my entire pregnancy and some into my postpartum, I longed for my former life.
Every single day, I would think about what I was doing “a year ago today”. Every. Single. Day.
I knew my life would never be the same. I would never have the freedom that I had for so long. And I loved my freedom.
Was I becoming the bitter lady that I worked so hard for thirteen years not to become?
And I wasn’t even a mom yet!
There’s a Scripture in the Bible (Philippians 3:13) where the apostle Paul says, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead…”
I began reciting this Scripture to myself quite a bit. Yes, I know that Paul wasn’t talking about motherhood but, still, this Scripture motivated me. God used it to speak to my specific situation.
I knew that I had to forget what “lies behind” and not just the bad things but the good things too.
The word forget means to “fail to recall” or “fail to think of”.
I realize now that fully enjoying life before kids, wasn’t what would keep me from being that bitter lady. Resisting the urge to camp out on the fond memories of my former life was (and is) what will keep me from being that bitter lady.
I often think, if I were married I wouldn’t have this problem. I would be totally happy and ready for this new phase. But, in my heart I know that’s not true.
I think there’s something in all of us that longs for time’s past when we face major changes – when we face the unknown. When we have a difficult task ahead, it’s easy to look back and think those were the days.
But, in fact, these are the days.
These are the days that my future self will long for.