Choosing to go your own way in life is not always an easy decision, and sometimes, I think it doesn’t always come about by conscious choice. There are so many things that occur to us during the course of a life, can we ever really account for all of them. Where do I start, to recount coming to this decision? Unlike the men’s rights movement that seeks to punish women for not bowing to men’s wishes, I chose this route to fulfill a dream, and I still require the assistance of a kind and generous man to do so. I do not see men as the enemy, to be shunned and punished into obedience. Rather, I see that my choices in life have lead me to an impasse.
First of all, you should probably know what exactly I’ve chosen and why that appears to be such a hard choice to make in light of whatever it is. Well, when I turned thirty about ten years ago, I had this sinking suspicion in my gut that things weren’t exactly going as I had hoped. I pictured myself married with children by then. Of course I had plenty of time, and others always reminded me of that. But, I knew that time was running out, despite what the world was seeing. Opportunity only knocks so many times, and I was the type of person for which it rarely knocked. So, I promised myself, in the face of prospects drying up, that if I turned 40 without having a man in my life, that I would take matters into my own hands and choose to have a child on my own. I chose motherhood, but not necessarily marriage.
Choosing to have a child on your own isn’t an easy decision and it doesn’t come by a whim. Some women fall into single-motherhood because of other circumstances and I was choosing to take on the difficult task without having to do so. Yet, I felt that I needed to do so. Relying on a man to help me achieve my dream felt so unfair. It felt like I was being sentenced to spinsterhood, as if being punished for something. What had I done? Absolutely nothing, but that sense was due to something I will speak about momentarily.
Since I was at least twenty, I had always wanted to become a mother. In that formula, there was always a nice man who had won my heart and we were going to make that family together. The fantasy was typical of cis females such as myself. Still, I regarded the ideal with some trepidation. Being intimate with someone was not something I was comfortable with, despite my desire to have the love of another human being and return that love. To reach that zenith, or achieve that rite of passage, entailed allowing another human being into my life and learning to trust. I had every reason not to.
Surviving childhood sexual abuse, and other assaults, even abuse as an adult made that trust factor much more difficult than it would be for your average woman. Each time I attempted to give a man the benefit of the doubt, my trust was mislaid and the cycle began anew. For many survivors of abuse, they’ll note the ease with which other perpetrators seem to find them, as if you’re wearing a sign on your head. There comes a point where you either cave into your patterns or make a concerted effort to go against them. I’ve helped others to do this and have attempted to help myself. Those I helped succeeded, but I seemed unable to break patterns. And, of course, in doing so, I was finding that the attraction was gone and the enthusiasm for subsequent dates was nil.
To avoid repeating patterns, you try to break the usual modus operandi of how you go about meeting or dating. I tried dating sites. They either exposed sociopaths up front (have you ever gotten those bizarre notes from prospective suitors that insult you right off the bat?) or they hint around what to expect by the words they choose and the images they choose. There is so much to sift through, and people expose a great deal about themselves online. I was gifted by my family line a very honed ability of discernment. I read people like books without them having to say much. I’m sure that peek at the all seeing eye has set some people off from me. I also learned to stop taking guff from anyone. I am not afraid to come off as harsh and I don’t apologize as readily for anything anymore.
My rules for dating on these sites were that I was to be sure I was on the same page fundamentally as any prospective dates. That meant no one who didn’t coincide with my belief system. I had already compromised too much in the past to continue to give away more and more pieces of myself for the hope that someone might care for me more if I was less me. Even my own mother had said that I shouldn’t talk politics or religion with these men right out, although I told her that it was part of the profile and was a fundamental part of who we are as people. I dated men who were middle of the road and on my side of matters. I neither wanted a full out atheist or a deeply religious person. I couldn’t bear the idea of hurting them or myself with the constant arguments based on our deepest traits. It is just so deeply unfair to ask anyone to give up parts of themselves in order to pair up. I think doing so leads to divorce. Why on Earth would I settle into something that I set up to fail from the beginning? The men I accepted dates with didn’t deserve to be lied to any more than I did.
Somewhere in the above, you probably sensed the double-standard that women face in dating: your education, your beliefs all matter nothing in the face of getting and keeping a man. We are to put that all aside in an effort to achieve the goal. That it is our responsibility to remain changeable for the man’s sake, and that we allow the man to choose us and dictate the terms of the match. I get the chills just thinking about that. The ideology expressed in such sentiment is what ensures the continuance of domestic abuse and failed relationships. It is a betrayal of ourselves as autonomous persons, as well as a betrayal of other women and the men involved. We cannot lie and expect good results.
It must be so frustrating for men, as well, who are simultaneously told that they can expect certain behavior from women, but are given contradiction at every term. Either women are free and equal or we are subservient vessels for their fulfillment. It cannot be both. Perhaps, women in my generation face a difficult dichotomy as we’re stuck between the grandmothers and mothers who won so much equality for us, but slipped back into old roles and on the other side, the young women who are trying to fulfill the promise of feminism for everyone. At forty, I see things more clearly than my twenty year old self, although I still gauge we were on the same page. She just didn’t have the litany of examples to back up her argument yet. Time certainly provided that.
When I turned thirty-five, I warmed myself to the idea of obtaining a donor to have a child. It really bothered me at first. I was mixing my genetics with those of a stranger. Everything I had been through on the dating sites, the pure disgust I was feeling with the male of the species made it all that much harder. Who was this individual? I didn’t know him from Adam. I couldn’t say if he was worthy of being the father of my child. I could only fill in my blanks: accomplished artist and author, college graduate, upstanding citizen, high IQ, fit and attractive, and the list goes on. So I cried many nights, wondering more about what was wrong with me as a selection than about the would be donor. I consoled those tears with the idea that I still had a couple more years left to trip over the right man.
Yet—life just doesn’t always help in any way. I had to work. I was my only means of support and I couldn’t stop writing or I would never reach my goals and hopes in my field. The time ticked by, and I felt like I was spending all of my time either in the office or at home trying to finish my books. The truth was, I was! I had no choice, unless I wanted to take even longer to achieve the only thing I knew I had control over: my work.
Where does one go to meet someone else? Bars aren’t safe. I’m not a churchgoer. Group meets are difficult for introverts like me. That introversion has haunted me since I was a girl. It made others withdraw from me in school and to this day they still think I am not friendly or something is wrong with me, when I am simply not an overtly expressive individual. Perhaps this too, hurt on dates, but then again, why should it? Who is perfect on the first date? And, doesn’t it take time to get to know someone? What the hell ever happened to getting to know someone? It seems dating is more about sleeping around than actually finding your best friend. Eventually, I just got so tired of paying these sites a lot of money to introduce me to very few men and all of whom were either looking to hook up or were so bizarre there was no getting past the oddities to find a good person underneath. Awkwardness is one thing. I can be awkward, but I am not telling people I could buy them flashy cars or that children in Ethiopia ought to die because fate has made their land un-farmable (not mention all the West has done to exacerbate the issue).
During this decade, I had met a couple men through work. There was one that I liked well enough for a friend but the idea of settling in with him made me want to commit suicide. I had learned long ago to trust my gut. There was no happiness to be found there, especially if I forced it. I had also met a young man that I could have gone head over heels for. He was a bit younger than me, but very much what I was looking for. We had our first date and I was so nervous. I hate that feeling, but I know so many who enjoy it. I will never understand loving the idea of feeling so sick over the idea of someone. Anyway, circumstances intervened and he moved back home after his father took ill to help his mother—states away. Our mutual friend shook his head and could only say what a terrible mistake our friend was making. Of course I agreed, because my hope went with him.
Thus, time ticked on. Dates were sporadic. Eventually, I gave up. I said, if it’s going to happen, it will happen in its own time and I won’t be able to do anything to make that happen sooner. I relaxed quite a bit once I had come to terms with this. The weeks leading up to my fortieth birthday were a mix of release and mourning. The dream I had had as a twenty something was dead. I was letting it go. An appointment with the clinic made it more real and I just sort of rolled into what I now see as inevitable. Everything in my life built toward this moment, and fighting it was what was causing me the greatest pain.
I’m not the only one choosing motherhood on her own terms. As men continue to live life to the fullest, playing the field until the mid-forties or early fifties, women who want children are left with the difficult choice to continue to wait and hope or take matters into their own hands. Women are limited in the time in which they can conceive, and there are so many factors that happen throughout her life that can make that difficult aside from age. Yet, men act as if a woman ten and fifteen years his junior are actually going to be interested in him. Are you serious? What makes you think that a woman would want a slut of a man who couldn’t be bothered to take proper time, any more than a man wants that kind of woman? (I’m only speaking in reference to the sexist tripe aimed at women attempting to blame them.)
Still, I learned, that there are men out there who are so very giving that they help other families achieve their dream of having a little one. Who they are, and why they aren’t out there with us, I don’t know. They could be very young yet. They could be facing high rates on student loans and using this as a means to better their situations. There are so many reasons, just as I have so many reasons feeding into how I came to choosing motherhood on my own.
Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, K embarked on a now twenty year career in writing. After a childhood, which consisted of voracious reading and hours of film watching, it was a natural progression to study and produce art.
K attended Morrisville State College, majoring in the Biological Sciences, and then continued with English and Historical studies at the University at Albany, home of the New York State Writer’s Institute, gaining her Bachelor’s Degree. While attending UA, K interned with the 13th Moon Feminist Literary Magazine, bridging her interests in social movements and art. Topics of K’s writing include the environment, animal welfare, gender limitations, racial disparities, and the trauma of war.
Published novels by K include the Civil War drama Blue Honor, the Second World War spy thriller OP-DEC:Operation Deceit, and the controversial science fiction/fantasy series The Trailokya Trilogy. In addition to writing novels, K enjoy’s the art of screenwriting and has worked on the screen spec 8 Days in Ireland, and the adaptations of her current novels. Currently, K has completed the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program for Film Studies and Screenwriting at Empire State College (SUNY), and is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Foner Fellowship in Arts and Social Justice. In 2015, K. Williams became an official member of International Thriller Writers.
K continues to write on The Blue Honor Blog weekly, producing commentary Mondays and Fridays on hot topics with some fun diversions for your work week. Whether it’s cooking, learning a foreign language, history or dogs, you’ll find something to enjoy and keep coming back for. Always a promoter of other artists, K uses Guest Blog Wednesdays to showcase artists from around the web and bring you interesting readings to expand your horizons. A sequel to her second novel, OP-DEC, is in the research phase, while the screen adaptation is being considered for production by film companies.