Choices, Doll

 

Remember this song? I recall the first time I saw the video and really listened to the lyrics, I thought the disco birth control pill pack was cheeky-genius. Then I forgot about it for like, 10 years.

Recently at my new job, I sussed out the office and consulted with the boss about earphones. As the new guy, it can be a hard line between being shy or just straight up unfriendly. He gave me the green light though, so I plugged in and fired up Spotify. Every day, just to keep it interesting, I hit “Browse” and then select one of their playlists, which change daily. A few days ago, Simple Kind of Life popped up in the list. I smiled at the remembrance of the BC pill light, and then I began to listen to the words again. They ring differently to me now, now that I’m married to a man who always envisioned himself with children of his own, who I’m sure never thought he’d marry a lady six years older than he, who is in the danger zone of childbearing years.

We’ve talked about it a handful of times, the risks, the rewards, the sacrifices, and then we move onto different topics, but in our more private moments, feel a lot more about it than we’ve probably said.

The song came on and I listened. The video, which I can’t watch at work because it’s a blocked website, I vaguely recall as full of motherhood/single girl choice imagery. The wiki about it is intense, especially the bottom section. The director, Sophie Muller, was amazing in the 90s when it came to videos which involved women singers and feminine subject matter; she had laser focus and was scary poignant. But the lyrics that got me, the one that made me tear up at my desk, were these, sung as the bridge of the song:

Now all those simple things
Are simply too complicated for my life
How’d I get so faithful to my freedom?
A selfish kind of life
When all I ever wanted was the simple things
A simple kind of life

It’s true that most of humanity isn’t comfortable with a woman choosing not to have children. When people hear of such a decision, their first impulse is to remind her that she’s not too old and that many women have children well into their 40s and sometimes even 50s. What about adoption? You’ll regret not having them. Who will take care of you when you’re old?

There are many retorts to these items and I’ve probably mentioned most of them to various “interested” parties. The only answer anyone is ever really satisfied with though, is that she’s changed her mind and will go out right now and get pregnant then be the best possible mother ever, indeed beyond criticism or reproach. Because women are nothing if not kind to each other about how we raise our children…

I spoke with someone about this topic, not something I ever do, and they suggested that the sadness felt on both sides of the marriage isn’t so much what’s missing and will be missing but rather, the mourning of an idea. I have friends who are close to 40, some who belligerently want children regardless if they’re with the right partners they think will help raise them, and some who militantly do not want kids. I am far more confident in the second group, at least they are honest about their situations and lives. I think in a lot of ways, I belong to that batch. I never saw myself with children and by the time I found the right man, it was too late to safely have a few (because I wouldn’t want just one).

Dylan and I have so many plans to live in different countries, to travel, to work random jobs, and to experience as much of the globe as we can, together. We know kids barely factor into that let alone factor easily. It’s a choice we’re making, to pursue an adventure of the restless sort. That kind of life feeds us, it’s what we desire maybe more than anything, and we talk about those plans constantly in “when” terms, not “if”. It is the right thing for both of us, we know this beyond a doubt. A selfish kind of life? Maybe… maybe.

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