We kissed to the sound of glasses being gently tapped with spoons and cheers emitting from our family and friends. Loved ones danced around us as we spent our wedding day believing that we would always want the same things in life. We had agreed that we would continue to live the free-spirited existence we had grown accustomed to—an existence without children.
I was never the type of girl who dreamed of getting married and having a family of my own. I dreamed of traveling the world and taking lovers throughout Europe. Eventually, I stopped thinking so much about the lovers—mainly because I realized that would be thoroughly exhausting—but I didn't stop believing I wasn't meant to be a mother.
The truth was, I wasn't very nurturing. I hated babysitting and often dreaded when friends told me they were bringing their children to events. I adored my niece and nephew, but that only showed me how perfectly cut out I was to be an aunt. I called the shots. If I wanted to play with them, I did. If I didn't, I didn't. I wasn't responsible for their lives, nor was I a disciplinarian. It was the best of all worlds, and I loved it.
When I got married, I found someone who shared that same outlook. We agreed that we didn't want children. We bought a house, talked about buying a boat, and started our lives as a married couple breaking the norms of what was expected from us by society. I felt like a rebel. I was beating to the sound of my own drum.
But slowly, the drum started to make a different sound. I was married for two years when I felt a change start to happen to me. It was slow at first—a smile from a child that made my heart suddenly ache or the sight of a father comforting a crying baby that made me stop and want to watch. I started to feel a nurturing feeling grow inside of me. It was a desire to take care of something.
Unfortunately though, it was only growing inside me—not my husband. He and I had a roller coaster of a relationship in general. We were two stubborn people who were passionate about different things. When I was up, he was down. We loved, but we hated just as strong.
My nagging feeling to consider motherhood drew a wedge between us each day. As I talked about the possibility of a starting a family, he pulled away more. Finally, I decided to let it go. Not the marriage, but my new found interest in creating life. I wanted to make the marriage work, and if that meant giving up the idea of having kids, so be it.
At least, that was my plan. But one day, while I walked the same route I walked every day during my lunch hour, and I passed the same small church cemetery I passed every day, something caught my eye that I had never noticed before—a tombstone that had the names of a couple buried there. There wasn't anything special about their names but rather what was written underneath, "Just the two of us."
To many it might seem sweet, but to me, it instantly felt sad. It was just the two of them. No family, no children to come put flowers at the site, just them. I sobbed in front of that stone. I knew my marriage wasn't going to make it through this. I no longer could pretend to be someone who I had outgrown. I wasn't that same person who didn't want children. And that wasn't fair to my partner, who was growing to hate me more every day.
A few weeks later, we separated. It wasn't only because of children; together, we were a circle being plunged repeatedly into a square peg. The struggle to love each other was damaging our lives. The truth was simple: we didn't want the same things anymore.
Our marriage ending was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I felt like a failure. I didn't know what would happen to me now that I was completely on my own. I knew I was slowly opening to the idea of children, but I was single.
However, even through that heartache, I felt something unexpected. I felt a sense of pride in myself because I had stood up for what I needed. I had finally allowed myself to be okay with changing my mind and to be okay with wanting something I swore I'd never want.
And when I did find love again and brought two children into this world, I did it with an open heart; a heart that had once been broken but healed stronger and with a clarity that only comes from acceptance.