Marriage and Kids: Are Women Just Checking Off the Boxes?

06/29/2010 03:02 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Lisa Guest Stress reductionist who works on-site in corporate and creative environments

The truth, or my truth? What's perspective? What's fact?

I try to slow my life down enough to truly appreciate the flow of it, the juice when available, the pain when delivered, the moments of recognition. I found these quotes about truth and reflected on them for close to an hour prior to the following conversation.

"The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil that is in the world."
- Max Born

"There is no such source of error as the pursuit of absolute truth." - Samuel Butler

"Say not, I have found the truth, but rather, I have found a truth." - Kahlil Gibran

"Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it."
- Andre Gide

"Seek the company of those who seek the truth, and run away from those who have found it." - Vaclav Havel

Last week someone said to me with regard to truth, "There is a difference between perspective and fact." According to her definition, I can elucidate this difference quite simply. It is a fact I have two more Asian pears in my refrigerator. It is a perspective that I feel they are the best fruit to hit the Giant Dollar store on Vine. It is a fact there is a spinning class in Studio City at 9 in the morning. It is a perspective that I desperately need to find a seat there tomorrow.

Yesterday I spoke with a woman I've known since she was 18 and I was 23. We've adopted each other as sisters in the bond, bi-coastal friends and fellow struggling writers. She also blogs, but usually about her communications career or the three children she's raising. Yesterday she shared her split perspective with me. On one hand she is certain without the kids she could have been the style editor at Vogue right now. On the other hand she shared her frustration that she never writes up the great ideas she comes up with and knows would be published if she'd just write them and send them out.

I asked her why she hasn't done the article on play dates she knows she could have sold. She said, "I guess I'm afraid I'm really not that good." Ah, the insecurity that lies at the center of each of us. It is a fact that there is insecurity within each of us. How we let it show or indulge our doubts has more to do with our perspectives.

I said, "Yes, the deep, silent, quiet part of me insists I'm coming up with a new genre, but the body I put in the seat and stare at the blank page with every day comes up with all kinds of excuses why I can't do it."

She said, "It's harder to do what you're trying to do. Because you didn't marry or have children, people will already think there is something wrong with you. The fact that I'm married and I have children means I've already got lots of my boxes check-marked. I'm already a success."

I was silent, hauntingly silent.

She quickly retraced her steps and said, "I don't think that way. You were the smart one. If I'd have known how I'd have to give up my soul, my mind and my heart to live this life; that I'd feel so empty while I'm living it, I wouldn't have done it. But the fact remains, you didn't do it and I did and in their eyes, you're a failure."

We started talking two nights prior because she'd alerted me to a blog she wrote in which she called herself a ghost, an apparition, no longer a self in this world, just a being making sure other beings are existing and growing.

What is fact?
What is perspective?
Who perceives women to be failures when they don't reproduce?

More women are choosing lives of freedom and choice now than ever before. Is it true that this 1950s mentality of the spinster -- or as Maureen Dowd recently wrote, the "Unmarried" -- still exists?

Or is this my friend's rationalization, a perspective she holds close that keeps her car seats connected and car rolling in the "right" direction?

My truth is that I wanted to live an authentic life. I knew I'd never be the smartest, prettiest, richest, thinnest or most popular girl on the block. I wanted to be me, specifically, uniquely me. I wanted to learn what the patterns of my ancestors were and not just repeat them unconsciously because I had no extra time for myself to think, ponder and transform my soul when busy being mommy.

I've done that. I've discovered who I am. I know my light; I recognize my shadow; I'm slowly learning to love all sides of me. It's not easy. I know the bad things I've done that I dare not mention or put in print. Yet I also know the act of writing down those behaviors in a very private place frees my mind from self-loathing. The good things I am, I take for granted. I shouldn't do that. The bad things I am, which are human and formed in fear, tend to escalate because I'm now willing to look at them. Before and for years I used every kind of addictive behavior to avoid these truths. Now I sit with it all, and grapple with liking me anyway -- forgiving myself so I can get on with my life and give more of myself and soul to my beloveds.

My friend, who is having difficulty with her husband, wanted to know about my love life. To me my love life is so repetitive, but to her it was a story needing to be told. "You went on 150 dates? Write two pages up on each one and you've got a book."

That's her perspective. The dates are my truth.