Single, 35, and Panicking

“Everything is always working out for me,” I chant into the mirror while doing my makeup every morning, downing a huge glass of celery juice which I hope will fix all of the problems in my life.  This is a mantra I have adopted from Abraham Hicks, one of the trailblazers of the “Law of Attraction” philosophy, that I use every single time something happens in my life that doesn’t go in my favor or in a different direction than I had planned. Which is, a lot. 

And boy, am I a planner. As a severely type A person I am a slave to my daily routines and habits. Which is a good thing I guess. But if we’re being honest, “planner” is just another way of saying “control freak,” which has much more negative connotations. I want and need to always be in control and the idea of not having that sends my entire body into an anxiety spiral. But over the last couple of years I’ve had to find a calming mantra in order to placate the thoughts surrounding the one thing I can’t and never will be able to control: my love life. 

I never expected to be single and alone at thirty-five. No woman does I guess, but I thought I would at the very least be living it up in the city, happy, carefree, sleeping with tons of hot dudes and thriving in my career, a la a west coast Carrie Bradshaw. But I’m not really doing that. Most of the time I’m feeling lonely and isolated and absolutely baffled as to how to meet quality men. And speaking of Sex and the City, that show has certainly provided some comfort to women like me who might feel behind their peers who already have houses and husbands and children. But at this point I’ve already matched Carrie’s age by season four. So, not only are the shows’ themes starting to pass me up but I’m getting angrier and angrier with every rerun I watch knowing my life isn’t even close to being as vibrant and exciting as the characters’ are. 

Thirty-five is a panic age. It’s the age where women say to themselves, “well shit, I better hurry up and find a mate before I get too old to have kids!” Because if you do the math, and everything goes to plan (which, as we’ve established before when it comes to these things, it never does) your earliest chance of realistically procreating is thirty-seven. Because you have to meet your perfect match, which lets say takes a year, and then you have to date and get to know each other for at least another year (and hoping that in that year you’ll get a ring), which has you marrying at thirty-seven and getting knocked up in that same year. Unrealistic, to be honest. And I’m already halfway through thirty-five so we can go ahead and jack my earliest age up to thirty-eight. And then what happens if we’re reproductively challenged and it takes a while to actually get pregnant? Ugh, I need to stop before my anxiety gets out of control. 

There’s that word again: control. It’s probably why I’m single. No one wants to date the control freak! No man in the history of the world has ever said, “oh man, I am so turned on by that girl with the anxious panic behind her eyes!” And I think men generally get squirrely around any woman in her 30s who expresses interest in kids. He suddenly feels too much pressure and expectation and doesn’t know if he is ready for that. Men exist out there who desperately want children too and are worried about being old dads, but they also want that circumstance to be off the table while they get to know you and see if they even want to be locked together with you for a minimum of eighteen years. Because of the time limit put on women’s fertility we can sometimes be blinded to the man and just see a sign with blinking lights over his head that says “sperm donor.” 

There isn’t really that much societal pressure put on women to “procreate or be damned to hell” anymore and not having kids sometimes seems like a really sweet deal. My body won’t get ruined, I’ll have all the sleep I want, a double income household, more traveling, the list literally goes on and on. Not to mention it would soothe a lot of the panic, at least concerning timelines. And I honestly never thought I wanted kids. But thirty-five somehow brings about the panic! What if I decide in ten years that I really want them and then it’s too late!? Suddenly the idea of NOT having them made me start rethinking my entire existence. How could I possibly miss out on that phase of life? How could my conceited ass pass up the opportunity to have a mini me around with fifty percent of my likeness and personality that could carry on my legacy? 

“Everything is always working out for me,” I chant while meditating, something that would definitely go out the window if I had a screaming baby to take care of. Do I even really want them? I have to fucking figure it out RIGHT NOW honestly because all of my potential suitors in the future will need to know straight up. I will need to know myself because if they’re on the fence too and I get two years in and they give a hard no while I’m thinking hard yes, then that places me at thirty-seven, the age I needed to be at the end of this life plan process! 

Every single day that I look into the mirror and see fine lines forming and under-eye circles darkening I am reminded of my time limit concerning motherhood. Women can potentially have children well into their 40s, but the likelihood lessens. Every birthday I have is a reminder that the last train to babytown is coming. And youth is so celebrated, especially in a place like LA where I live, and if a man wants to have children, and lots of them, his first pick isn’t going to be the woman in her late 30s. 

Not that I’m even facing that dilemma anyway. Good, quality men who I even want to procreate with are becoming fewer and farther between. And the ones I do find are damaged beyond repair or have sixteen suitcases of baggage that I don’t know if I can unpack. Where is the good, loyal, dad material guy that I deserve? I’ve learned all of the lessons I need to at this point, thank you very much. My last relationship was so toxic it required an exorcism. Why does the universe insist on delaying the connection to my soulmate longer?

My aunt Sue used to be such a legend to me and all of the female cousins in my family because she got married at thirty-six and then went on to have three children, one of which was when she was forty-two. And I have regurgitated her story to everyone, including myself, for years whenever a small hint of the panic would start to creep up. But I can no longer tell that story as any sort of inspiration since I am frighteningly close to passing that goal line. 

I always have an understandable excuse that I give to members of my family when they wonder about why I am still free balling life at this mature age. My career aspirations made my love life take a backseat. And while that is noble and commendable, since I am still working at a restaurant to keep my bills paid and a roof over my head, I am not living my dreams to their fullest potential yet. So if my career isn’t in order AND my love life is nonexistent I might as well move back to Indiana to find a nice corn fed divorcee who owns a house and would take care of me so I can just relax and write books and mommy blogs while I walk around barefoot on the screened in front porch waiting for the stew I made for dinner to finish simmering on the stove. 

I’m not gonna do that. Also, I can’t cook for shit. But in an alternate reality, and if my family had any say in the matter, that would be a really good move. However, after eleven years in a big bustling city with opportunity and everything I could ever want within a two mile radius I sure as hell am not going to give that up in exchange for the possibility that I might get a kid or two out of the arrangement. I think I’ll take my chances here. I made a deal with the devil eleven years ago. I decided to roll the dice on a risky career choice and now I’m well into my 30s without the success I want yet OR the husband and family. I must’ve rolled snake eyes. 

“EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS WORKING OUT FOR ME!” I scream in my head over and over again when I find myself faced with the reality of yet another failed relationship. You were SO CLOSE, I hear echoing in my brain. Who cares if it was the wrong person? I could’ve had the family thing and never had to feel insecurity or panic ever again. I wouldn’t have to be jealous of proposal announcements on Instagram anymore. I could’ve at least had one piece of the adult puzzle put into place. But nah, instead I have to accept that I am thirty-five and single again. 

Timelines are bullshit but they are real when you have to factor in biology. Sure I could adopt at forty-five and become a mother that way, and “everything is always working out for me” so if that’s what ends up happening then GREAT. I will celebrate my modern family in whatever form it takes. It’s completely out of my control and I’m just now starting to accept that. Maybe I’m not meant to have children. Maybe I’m not meant to get married until I hit forty and REALLY give up all of the control. Maybe the universe has bigger plans for me and my career is literally weeks away from huge success. I’ll keep repeating my mantra until my face turns blue and hope for the best! 

Falling in Love With Potential

We’ve all done it before. Some of us multiple times before. We meet a man that isn’t quite where or who we want him to be but we believe that with time, patience, love, and encouragement that he could become the man we’ve envisioned in our heads. 

Falling in love with potential is a dangerous game to play. I’m sure in certain circumstances it’s managed to work in the woman’s favor, but more often than not, it’s a definite ticket aboard the train of disappointment. And the further that train goes, the more unwarranted resentment builds. Unwarranted because he made no promises to you to change or become better. He didn’t fall in love with you and say, “whatever you need me to be or do or have I will do for you.” But we hold onto the idea that one day he will…

Women are very adaptable and much more willing to tweak and edit certain parts about themselves, especially for someone they love. Men are much less willing to do that. And they are always so CLEAR about the fact that they are who they are and that they won’t compromise that for anyone.

So why do we fall for that same idea time and time again? It’s one thing to support a man and be around for the struggle, knowing that one day he will be successful and be able to provide for a wife and/or family. It’s a whole other thing to get into a relationship knowing that the two of you have fundamental differences that you think will change once he realizes how much he loves you.

It doesn’t work that way and it’s time we start understanding that. If a man says he never wants to get married, BELIEVE HIM. If he says he doesn’t want kids, BELIEVE HIM. If he says he wants to travel the world and never set down roots anywhere, BELIEVE THAT TOO. You will never be able to love him enough to change his mind and you will break yourself in the process of trying. 

It’s the same idea behind the women who always choose men who need to be saved. The addicts, the abusers, the cheaters. No amount of care and love can get a leopard to change his spots. He may change for himself, but he won’t do it for you. And the sooner you realize that the sooner you can move on.

I used to make fun of women who would come charging into a potential relationship asking, “what are you looking for?” or “do you see yourself having a family” very early on but now I completely understand. Love is not enough to sustain even the most promising relationships if you aren’t on the same page about the future. Catch it as early as possible so you can save yourself time and energy.

Everyone walking this earth theoretically has “potential” to be something that they are not. But that doesn’t mean we should give every single person that chance. People applying for jobs are put under intense scrutiny to make sure they are qualified. They need to submit a resume, references, and are subjected to a thorough interview. I’m not saying we should treat dating that way, but we should be more discerning than we are. 

We’re not 19 anymore. (Well, maybe some of you reading this are, in which case the next couple of statements don’t apply to you.) We’re not dating just for fun or to fill up our time. We’re dating to find a compatible match. And when we find someone who is obviously incompatible with us it’s like we blackout, plug our ears, become amnesiac. We get blinded by attraction and all logic goes out the window. 

It’s time we stopped all of that nonsense. Lets be honest, women almost across the board seek security in any kind of relationship. If you aren’t getting that then what are you doing? Security is the minimum amount of foundation you need to build a relationship upon. So if he’s not ready to be a husband, father, or even a boyfriend then move right along. He needs a longer gestation period, he needs more time on his own, he’s not that into you, or he just wants to be an eternal bachelor for life. The reason doesn’t matter, you just need to know that you’re barking up the wrong tree. 

The key is to find a man who is exactly who you want him to be NOW. Not who he will be in 5 years, not who he will be once he stops fucking around and decides you are the one. Not the one who you hope will wake up one day and realize what he lost. Find yourself a man who suits your needs in the present moment. Otherwise you have just signed yourself up for years of struggle and disappointment. 

No Daddy Issues Here!

“Every girl has daddy issues,” my co-worker stated in the middle of Whole Foods, where we had gone to grab Kombucha while on break.

“I don’t,” I said.

He looked at me as if I was a freak. How could he understand me and my issues and sensitivities if he couldn’t automatically attribute them to my dad. It made me laugh.

Guys are silly. Not every girl has a complicated relationship with her dad or didn’t get enough love and affection from him. In fact, some of us have such an esteemed view of our dads that most men pale in comparison. They will never live up to the man who shaped my childhood and treated me like a princess. So I guess if you want to call that daddy issues then I guess I DO have them.The issue is that my dad is too amazing.

My dad was the first example I had of how a man should behave. What his responsibilities were, how he should treat women, his work ethic, and most importantly, how he should raise his kids. I wish everyone had been raised by someone like my dad because we would probably have a lot less pain and suffering in the world. He never raised his voice, not once. When my siblings and I were behaving badly we received a stern word or two, but most of the time we just never misbehaved around him because we respected him too much.

My dad is the original Don Draper, minus the drinking problem and emotional unavailability. He got up everyday at 7am to shower and put on a clean white undershirt. His hair was perfectly parted on the side and had been in the same style for so long that he no longer needed to comb it into place, but he still did, of course. Every morning he shaved his face. I’ve never seen him have a 5 o’clock shadow in my entire life. He wore a full suit everyday, and wore perfectly shined shoes which he used a shoe horn to get into. Then he would have his coffee (never more than 2 cups) and read the newspaper. I would sit and watch his routine on days when I didn’t have school. It was fascinating. This is how a real man starts his day.

On the weekends he would mow the lawn/rake the leaves/shovel the snow depending on the season, fix the screen door, change the oil in one of the cars, or throw a baseball back and forth with one of his sons. He came to all of my games, recitals, gymnastics meets, and plays. He never missed anything, which is crazy considering he has 5 children. If I had a track meet out of town that lasted until nighttime, he would be there at the school waiting for me when the bus got back. He would go outside and warm up the car for me and scrape my windshield in the wintertime before high school.

As his only daughter I was his favorite. He couldn’t have been more proud of me, no matter what my interests and talents were. One time, in 8th grade, I was in the running to be the best high jumper in the city of Indianapolis at the final meet of the season. When it was between me and two other girls, I saw my dad out of the corner of my eye pacing the bleachers back and forth in a secluded area where no other spectators were sitting. He could barely watch, because he wanted so badly for me to win. One girl scratched, and then the next girl scratched. It was my turn. I made it over. I won! My dad would never scream or yell or jump up and down, it just wasn’t his style, but I could tell he was so proud of me. They raised the bar another inch. It was just me alone, in a competition with myself to catch the city record. I scratched all three jumps. I was a little disappointed in myself, but still happy that I won. For the next week or so, my dad kept showing me on his measuring tape how close in inches I had come to the record. “You were only off by this much,” he would say as he showed me the 2 inches that would’ve made the difference. He wasn’t telling me how just a little more would’ve broken the record, he was showing me how good I was and how close I had become to being the best.

My dad is probably worried on some level about the career choice that I made, the challenging city I live in, and the fact that I am not following the same model of adulthood that he and my mom did. Most dads worry about the protection and finances of their children, and especially their daughters, well into adulthood. But even though it’s probably not the stable life he had imagined for me, he has never once been negative or unsupportive about it. He may not understand my dreams, but he appreciates that I’ve had the courage to follow them.

My dad taught me how to ride a bike, how to fish, how to skate, and how to chew with my mouth closed. When I was first starting to drive, and before Google Maps, Mapquest, and Garmins, my dad would draw detailed maps for me to help me get to where I was going. He read bedtime stories to my brothers and me every single night. He and I would go on bike rides through our neighborhood together and watch new episodes of Seinfeld every Thursday. Just him and me. He would even take me on “dates” when I was a little girl. Out to dinner and the movies. There wasn’t a moment where I didn’t feel special.

At age 33, I still need my dad’s help. If I have car trouble, apartment issues, questions about my taxes etc., he is the first person I call. When my car broke down in the middle of the 101 freeway in the middle of the day, I called him before I even called AAA. Even though we don’t talk every single day, I know he will drop everything he’s doing to help me if I need him.

My dad is blind as a bat. Literally legally blind. He wears contacts until they irritate his eyes, and then he switches to the most ridiculous coke bottle, magnifying glasses. He passed that amazing gene onto me, the only child who also has blue eyes like he does. What gift that has been, Dad. Thanks!

My dad loves bananas and peanut butter, Jim Beam and Diet Coke, and The 3 Stooges. He loves to BBQ, watch Indiana sports teams play, play softball/baseball, run, talk about the weather, and most importantly, he loves to hang out with his kids.

No daddy issues here. My issues can be attributed to everything BUT that. My only issue is that I don’t get to see him as often as I would like.

Thanks, Dad, for being my role model, supporter, friend, and hero. I wouldn’t trade you for anything.