A couple weeks ago I went to a friend’s wedding and found myself the lone singleton at a reception table filled with married folks (all with multiple children). You can imagine my delight. The conversation ranged from play dates to daycare centers, from pediatricians to Yo Gabba Gabba! At one point—to my shock—the conversation turned to careers.
I told my professional tale, and then each husband told what he did. And then each wife, as if they were robots, said some rendition of, “I’m a stay-at-home mom, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had.” I smiled (genuinely, in fact, because I do believe being a mother is a wonderful thing to be!). But, I couldn’t help but notice that the “it’s the best job I’ve ever had” part seemed so forced—like they felt they needed to justify their choice.
Then, my suspicions were solidified as, one by one, each mom at the table casually mentioned what they “used” to do. “I worked in marketing before…”, “I worked in public relations…”, “I was a real estate agent.”
Funny that I didn’t feel the need to mention my previous jobs. “I used to fold onesies at Baby Gap…”, “I used to be a bookkeeper…”, “I used to water plants at a nursery.”
And as I nibbled on a piece of bread (with extra butter), I noticed these sweet women seemed to be nostalgic for those times. Or maybe that’s just what I was feeling for them.
The truth is, I want to be a mom, too. I want a whole brood of kids—my very own soccer team. And I want to be married (preferably before having children, of course). But these are things I want in the future. Maybe tomorrow, but the future nonetheless. What am I right now?
Right now I’m an adventurer.
Right now I’m an entrepreneur.
Right now I’m an outside-of-the-box thinker.
All of these things might explain why my career has been varied and exciting. And, frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Even as recent as last month, I welcomed another twist, another turn in my job journey. I chose to leave a job in nonprofit management at a great organization, taking on a challenging role in the government consulting arena—something brand new for this work-in-my-pajamas freelance writer.
And while I might not embrace every change (like putting on a stiff suit every morning or lugging around a heavy laptop on the crowded Metro), I embrace the opportunity. Because it’s not an opportunity that everyone has.
Take my new married friends from the wedding reception, for instance—not one of them has the freedom to simply change jobs. Most of the time they barely have the freedom to leave the house without checking in with a spouse, a kid or a babysitter. Even at the reception, I caught them asking each other “permission” to get a second helping at the buffet. Wow, married life sounds amazing! (I kid! But really…)
If my married sister wanted to leave her current career and become, let’s say, a trapeze artist, she couldn’t “just do it.” She’d have to discuss it with her husband, deal with his inevitable circus jokes, go over the budget to see if they could afford it… and the list goes on. But me? If I wanted to become a magician tomorrow, I could do it. I could invest in playing cards, top hats and little white bunnies. I could take that risk. The only person involved is me. (And maybe my parents, because Lord knows their house is my back-up plan if I fail.)
I find this position liberating! And I’m wondering if other singles feel the same.
In God’s timing, I may get married… and I may not. But in the here-and-now, I’m building my future. Whether or not a man or kids enter into the picture is yet to be seen. But I’m thankful that I have the ability and the opportunity to take care of myself, to find jobs I enjoy, and to take exciting chances in life.
An hour into the reception, even before the dessert coffee was done brewing, each of my new married friends excused themselves from the table to leave early—to relieve their babysitters, of course.
So there I was. Alone at the reception table with a chocolate cupcake in front of me. I ate the whole thing. And then I made my way to the dance floor—with no one to dance with, yes… but no one to stop me, either.