An Ode to Being Unmarried and Childless

Yellow flower
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n

I am in my late 30s, unmarried, and might never have a child.

My biological clock is past its prime, which means that if I ever get married, it might be too late to conceive naturally. Right now, I am in a complicated relationship that I am okay with since my ultimate goal is, anyway, not marriage. I had been tempted a few times to get married to partners in the past, but it never materialized. In a way, I am thankful that the mother universe did not grant me those wishes. If she did, I would have landed in some serious trouble. I wasn’t right for them, and they weren’t for me either. It was a two-way street of disappointment and incompatibility that new love often tends to cover up and sideline.

When love is new and all-things-dreamy, it overrides potential issues. Everything seems solvable, including toxicity. Over time, when you are “used” to this feeling of love, you start paying attention to the issues you had conveniently ignored the first time around. This is where the real test begins – when the honeymoon phase ends. For some, the dreaminess and butterflies linger on for life. For others, the relationship becomes a compromise. Some others, like myself, realize it is best to move on. I often wonder what my life would have been if I had succumbed to marriage in my honeymoon phase, only to realize later that we are incompatible. So, yes, I am thankful things did not work out the way I desperately wanted at that point in time.

Talking about universal manifestations reminds me of this profound poetry from Blythe Baird’s If My Body Could Speak. I found it very relatable.

Poem on theories of the universe by Blythe Baird
Theories About The Universe – Blythe Baird

So here I am in a world that is the polar opposite of my peers, taking it one day at a time, living on my own terms, dealing with my own demons, and at peace with my courteous angels. Frankly, you tend to become less flexible and stuck to your patterns at this age. Probably, this is why they tell you to marry early – so you can adjust to differences better.

Presently, I find it unbearable to let go of this freedom of choice and, mainly, the freedom from compromises of any kind. I don’t have to entertain people I don’t like just because they are my partner’s family. I don’t have to sweet-talk anyone because they are my child’s BFF’s parents. It’s the kind of freedom I have become attached to. It is, without a doubt, I am where I am for purely selfish (or self-love; there are many ways of looking at this) reasons and not for the “world” and “climate control” as is the norm nowadays. I believe you should only have children because you want to experience what it is like to raise a child. Not because you think you might end up lonely and definitely not because it’s what society demands.

When someone tells me I should get married and have children, I ask them why. Most often, the answer would be immediate, “So you don’t end up alone when you are old.” This answer is quite tricky. All around, I see partners who are “not there” entirely, caught up in their own busy worlds. I see senior citizens living alone, their children comfortably settled abroad or outside their native place. Marriage becomes a gamble when you get into it expecting “help.” You may or may not receive what you seek. The help we get from our children might mostly be financial. Then again, the senior citizens I see are well-off and are not entirely dependent on their children. I often wonder why we have to burden our kids with our expectations. Is that why we give birth to new beings – so that they can fulfill our demands? I consider myself selfish for not wanting to give up my freedom. But isn’t it equally selfish to burden someone with our expectations?

Returning to the question of “Who will take care of you?” It is a concern, yes. But what is the guarantee that a partner or child will provide us with the best care?

As a single woman who would probably prefer to be single all her life, I can’t help think about my future time-to-time. What would I do when I turn old? Right now, my mind is leaning towards a high-quality assisted living facility. This information is not to evoke pity or compassion but to keep an open mind about the practicality of it all. Such high-end centers are extremely senior-citizen-friendly – they have a doctor-on-call, in-house chefs that cater to your dietary restrictions, people who help you with grocery and chores, wheelchair-friendly living quarters, and much more. The paid caregivers would be more interested in helping you than anyone near you. In an assisted living environment, people are trained to deal with elderly issues. Since it’s a job, they will try to give it their best. Moreover, you are surrounded by people your age, and they would be more interested in talking to you than someone younger.

Of course, you need to forego some luxuries in real-time to afford this. I am in half a mind to buy a new property (to show everyone I can). But the sensible half wants to hold that thought so I could pool the money into my “assisted living fund.”

Why can’t I stay with my family, you ask? Though our loved ones adore us, no one can be at our beck and call 24×7 without losing their sanity. Over time, my family might understandably grow bitter (even if they love me) due to exhaustion, frustration, and lack of freedom that comes with taking care of my needs, which could be both mental and physical. Such pressure can ultimately ruin a perfectly healthy relationship.

That’s how I look at it – I rather someone take care of me mindfully than grudgingly out of a false sense of obligation.