For the past few years at least I have only known two things about the future: the first is that I want more children. The second is that I want to be able to provide for my children. Sounds really simple, right?
It’s not. After everything went wrong with X I told myself that if I just made it a week, a month, a year, I would eventually find myself in a situation where I could go to work 40 hours a week. I told myself I could make enough money to support a family, and maybe find a sperm donor and have another baby that way. Do it all alone.
For starters it’s impossible for me to work. I can’t afford childcare, and I can’t leave my daughter with anyone after what happened with X. It could be years before I can leave her with anyone. I have minimal qualifications, and very little experience; a few more years out of work doesn’t help those odds.
The next obstacle is that after assuming I would never go near a guy again, I find myself in the midst of a thing – as detailed in Our Story. Of course, it’s a little early to be discussing having kids, but I know he isn’t opposed to the idea. We have both asserted that we are ‘all or nothing’ people; we wouldn’t be an item unless we intended to try and make it work forever. I’m not saying it will work forever, but with that being the end goal it’s safe to assume that I would be having children with him, rather than by myself.
So what’s the big deal? Surely I don’t need to work 40 hours a week to pay for a donor to have a baby in the future if I’m now working on a relationship, that hopefully would sort all of that out in time… Right? Wrong. I can pick numerous problems with the situation. (I can pick numerous problems with most situations; don’t underestimate my ability to worry!)
The centre of the problems is my home. I don’t own my home. I rent. We moved here after finding out what X had done, to be closer to support networks and away from all of his family. I’m incredibly lucky to have gotten this place, and I love it here. I feel like I can never move out, because moving out would be sacrificing all the effort that I put in moving us here. But it’s tiny; perfect for me and my daughter, not for anyone else. It’s our space, that I created to make us feel safe, for us to rebuild our lives in. I didn’t think about the future.
The idea of having another baby one day brings a lot of other things with it. The dream I had of buying a house – which, lets face it, is near impossible for most people in this economical climate – a proper family home with room for more. That means one day I need to let go of this place, and that breaks my heart. The idea that I would have a career some day, now tainted with gut-wrenching thoughts of one day leaving my daughter in someone else’s care. Fantasies about hosting big family meals, eating out at nice restaurants and maybe even going abroad on holiday at some point. How am I paying for all of these things? Do we need them? Do we deserve them?
Most of the problems I’m envisioning are a reminder that I expected to be further along in life by now. A lot of them revolve around money, and status, and proving to myself and others that despite everything that happened we can still live the life. I can still do well, and maybe if I do well enough it will make up for… No. No it won’t.
It seems petty to me sometimes, because as long as me and my daughter are happy and healthy nothing else should matter; but it seems to manifest into other worries too. If I have more children with a new partner, how will it affect my daughter? Will she feel like the odd one out? If I can’t afford that brand of shoes or that newest phone, will she be bullied at school like I was? If we don’t own our house will we ever have the money to go abroad one day, or will we spend it all on rent?
The future is uncertain, and trying to map it out is making me feel like everyone else has it together and I’m racing to catch up. The truth is, nobody has their shit together. It may look that way from where we stand, but nobody knows what the future will bring. Two years ago I didn’t know that the future was coming to destroy my life; and two months ago I didn’t see my new relationship ever being a reality.
A couple of weeks ago my (shiny new) partner was offered a chunk of extra income to give up on his dream job (a brave career path running his own business from scratch) and stay in his current, steady, 9-5 job. He called me not just to ask my opinion, but to ask whether I would be upset if he turned down the stable income. He said now that we are an item, I should have a say in these things. I was stunned, and the figure was impressive, but it wasn’t enough. He’s miserable in that job. He has so much potential, and I really, truly believe in his business model. More importantly, what’s the extra money if you’re unhappy, right?
I told him to turn down the offer, and in doing so realised where my priorities lie. Money is a great thing to have, but no amount of it could improve my daughter’s life the way a happy, supportive family structure can.
The future is happening right now, and in a lot of ways it’s much better than I ever expected it to be. Today I am reminding myself – and you, too, if you need it – to try to relax. The future is going to happen either way. In the meantime I think we should try a little harder to enjoy the here and now.