If you know me personally, you know that normally, I'm pretty happy with my status as a single woman with a career and a life bursting with hobbies and activities. I sometimes wonder where another person would fit into this life and how I could manage a relationship while juggling all my other responsibilities, my job, volunteer work, theatre stuff, and of course - we can't forget the most important thing - the writing.
At Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, it's inevitable that I will be asked the "dreaded question" by at least 12 people, mostly well-meaning aunts or cousins who know how old I am and who know my past history, so they wonder, as any normal human would, about my status right now and whether or not that might change in the future. Normally, I brush off the question, which usually goes something like this: "What aren't you married yet?" with something amusing that is meant to show them that I still have a sense of humor about things and am not taking it too seriously - because most of the time, that's how I feel.
This year, however, I was hit from another angle - one I didn't expect. My cousin was there with her newborn. You know where this is going. My first mistake was holding the baby. I know, I know - this is so stereotypical. The 32 year old single girl holds a baby and everything changes. Well, that's not exactly what happened, but it's close. I watched her watching everyone - so aware at such a young age. I watched her watching me while I baby-talked her and tickled her nose. We looked at the Christmas lights on my aunt's tree. I could see the lights reflected in her big blue eyes. It reminded me of when each of my sister's kids were born and how much I loved holding them and just looking at them for hours. And I was sad. Truly, deeply, devastatingly sad. I usually brush off the whole thing - marriage... children... it's probably not for me because if it was, it would have happened already. But when I held that baby and she fell asleep in my arms, well - it was a moment. But that wasn't the thing that got me. What got me was when my cousin (the baby's mother) came up to me and said, "you're a natural." I've never thought of myself as "good with babies" or "good with children." I mean sure, I'm great with my sister's kids, but they are special. But when she said that, I nearly started to cry. And then a voice inside me - the independent, busy, career-minded, single woman - started to scream at the other part of me. Started screaming that I am happy being single and I don't want a family. But this other voice, the new voice, it wouldn't shut up.
So now there's this new fear. A fear that I'm going to come across as desperate. That's that last thing I want - to be one of those women who is just looking for a husband. And I especially don't want to come across as one of those women who just wants a man so she can have a baby. That's not true at all. Loneliness is powerful and we all have a deep need for companionship. I've been alone for a very long time. I'm not sure why, other than the fact that I'm not society's vision of pretty or attractive or whatever. But I look at other couples and think that I'm at least as pretty as that girl so how did she manage to find happiness and I haven't yet. That's petty, I know, but most of the time I think that's the main thing keeping me from finding someone, because if people take a second look they will realize that I'm a great catch! See, I have lots of confidence in my inner beauty, just not much in my outer... whatever.
And I know I'm supposed to let go and let God take care of things. I know I'm supposed to trust that if I'm supposed to be with someone, He will make it happen. But still, I worry. Still, I get impatient. Still, I fear spending the rest of my life alone.
So okay, this post took a really interesting turn, but I intended it to be just a glimpse into what it's like for me, being single during the holidays. I think that mission was accomplished. I'm going to stop now, though, before I humiliate myself any more!