I've been pondering off and on lately, for some reason, a life stage that I didn't experience.
The fact that I missed it is my own fault (obviously, for those of you who have known me for years), and so I'm not blaming anyone. More just wondering what I missed, I suppose.
Because it seems like there's a lot of value in knowing one's spouse for years before having children. I know some people do things "the right way" -- marriage before kids -- and still a kid comes along almost instantly for them, as well. But I rather envy the folks who had a few years between wedding and firstborn.
I recall as a singleton thinking that certain tasks -- a classic example would be, bringing a nice home-cooked dish to a potluck -- should be more the area of the married couple. I'm the single person. I can get away with providing the bag of chips or bakery cookies or easy salad or something. What makes me laugh now is, I give myself the same excuses as a married parent. Hey -- I have no time, right? So someone else will still have to provide the really good stuff. (this example probably speaks more to my general laziness regarding food preparation than anything.) Fortunately for my hypothetical fellow potlucking friends, my husband doesn't subscribe to this theory, and will usually go overboard to provide something fitting.
That's obviously a silly example. More important is the one-on-one time with my spouse. Getting to know him, building common memories, doing a few grown-up things before the decades of kid things descended. Even just one grown-up vacation together, perhaps? A bit of money spent on ourselves, not kids or kid care?
The time spent just feathering the nest would've been nice, too. And planning things slowly, one step at a time ... There are so many projects I would love to dive into -- wedding photo album, say -- that languishes undone in favor of laundry or some child-related need.
I don't really wish I could go back and do many things over again. I truly acknowledge the wisdom that says that I learned from my mistakes. I do feel that I have. But the one thing I wish I could give my spouse that I never really fully will be able to prove to his satisfaction is the gift of knowing that I really, truly 100 percent choose to be with him because ... well, because I want to be with him. And again, thinking back on how things went down, who could blame him for always doubting that? He would have to be stupid to NOT doubt that. Though, by the time we got married (and still), I would not have been with anyone else for all the world.
Marriage just by necessity takes a back seat to the children's concerns. And we've got a loooong road to walk before we're done chasing after children's concerns. Sometimes I wish we'd had a little 'us' time first.
And then my more cynical, sensible self says, perhaps if I hadn't gotten pregnant, I never would have gotten married at all. I know myself. I know the levels of perfection and idealism I put on certain things. Would I ever have actually chosen to marry someone? I'm betting I wouldn't have.
When I think about it that way -- not to mention what a sweet, cool, fun, talented, deeply interesting and conversational guy I ended up with -- how things went down isn't so bad.
I wouldn't for one second say that, in general, a life lived without husband and/or children is a life not fully lived. But I would say for me, I would've felt a deep lack. And regret.
I often truly believe my deepest motivator is the avoidance of regret. I don't know how sound that sort of logic is, but it seems to be the way I operate.
All that said ... I'll be happy with what I have, and try to ignore the little what-ifs that occasionally creep in.