I woke up recently to find a late night text unopened on my phone.
It was a message from a good friend who lives across the state from me. It was sent way past my bedtime, and she was responding to a hilarious video I sent of my son. Her response was sweet, thoughtful, and all things you hope to hear from a friend about your child.
Yet then it hit me – the extreme differences in our lives, and the likely reason I was sleeping while she was texting.
We are bound in a friendship that is thicker than blood, but yet somehow, we live our personal lives in worlds that feel oceans apart. We are both successful, happy women on the brink of 40, but I’m married with two small children, and she is happily single.
Before you start to judge either of our life scenarios, I want you to know that I truly believe there is so much merit in living either way. Both paths can provide a life of fulfillment and happiness, along with heartache and loneliness.
I spent most of my 20s believing deep in my soul that I may not get married or have children. I was surrounded by empowered women who knew that life did not need to take on one shape or mold, and that the possibilities of our future were endless and without boundaries.
We were a pack of ladies determined to make the world a better place. We knew we did not have to follow the paths that some of our mothers were forced into, and we all planned to honor them by doing the opposite.
We started careers in a variety of fields, moved to different areas, traveled the world, and yet maintained the friendship we had started so many years before. As life took over, the get-togethers dwindled, but the love for each other never did.
We supported each other and fed off of each other’s strengths. We always respected each other as equals, and that remains the same today.
The only difference that eventually divided our paths was that I met someone worth sharing my life with, and some of them did not. They chose to remain on their own, unwilling to settle or sacrifice themselves for a life that is mistakenly expected of them as women. And unfortunately, still in even in 2019, that means they have to deal with a lot of bullshit.
They are rudely asked questions like “When are you ever going to settle down?” or “Will you ever have kids?,” and I am sure they have to often explain and defend their situation to family members, friends, and even perfect strangers.
Yet as a married mother, I am never asked, “Why did you marry your husband?” or “Did you really think it through before you had your children?” Those are the questions that should be asked but never are.
I could be married to a spouse I hate with children I resent, but no one would question my life choices because I have a husband and kids. Thankfully that is not the case for me, but it still makes me question why the scrutiny remains on them.
Single women should be celebrated for their own achievements. They deserve nothing but respect for living a life that they want versus settling for a society-based standard. They didn’t jump into unfit marriages or become a mother based solely on a world criterion that it was their “womanly obligation.”
I respect them, love them, and adore them. And for God’s sake, I also can be so damn jealous of them.
They have freedom and flexibility, and sleep…oh, precious sleep. They make their own weekend plans, read books, and can watch whatever they want whenever they want. They have hobbies and travel freely. Their money is theirs, and they do not have to worry about ballet classes, hockey equipment or PTA events.
They are the teachers who do all the after-school programs and tutoring on the weekends; they are the activists fighting for women’s rights and the rights of our children; they are the people who work holidays and weekends so we can be with our families; they are the friends and family we call when we need help.
They are also mothers in their own right to dogs, cats, nieces, nephews, and neighbors.
They may not have given birth, but they are a birth of a generation of women that give our sons and daughters a better future. They are vital to our human ecosystem and do more for our lives than most people have the capacity to acknowledge.
Yet I also understand that there must be an incredible amount of lonely days and nights. That at times their “decision” to be alone does not feel like their own. That they would magically produce a solid partner if they knew it was the right fit, or would love to be the one sending the cute video vs. responding to it.
They struggle with life choices just like you and me. We are different in some ways, but the same in so many more.
Each day, I come across article after article of the modern day battles we face as mothers. Yet, so few about what it means to choose the opposite.
So let’s just take a moment to honor and send some love to the women in our lives that make the world spin in a different way. They are making our society a better, more equal place for all the lovely little humans we brought into this world.
They are showing them that they have a choice in how they live their lives – and I think that’s unquestionably something worth celebrating.
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