I am against cheating. I won’t do it, but it feels like I haven’t truly lived. I went to school, got married, had a baby. I feel like my husband’s had a full life. He’s traveled all over the world, done two deployments and is settled. I haven’t even started. I feel like I missed a part of my prime, especially sexual prime. Help! —Anonymous
I’ll answer your question, but can I tell you a story first?
My mom came to visit me in New York City once. It was about 10 years ago, and I was bummed about a bad and very colorful breakup. Actually, two. I’d broken up with a guy a year or so prior who wanted to marry me. He was great, but like you, I felt like I hadn’t “lived.” I told him as much when we broke up, and he told me I’d never find someone as good as him. Ouch.
So I went and “lived.” I traveled and I partied, and I met someone else and he broke my heart. And while I usually didn’t regret that first breakup with the great guy, in my funk that weekend, I did. Maybe, I thought, I should have just gotten married.
My mom was in town to cheer me up. I asked her what she wanted to do during her visit, and her request was, “Nothing special, just the things that you usually do.” Um, OK.
It was a Saturday, so we went shopping in Soho. I introduced her to some of my friends, then we grabbed a late lunch at my favorite restaurant with cheap but amazing food. It was far from fancy.
My mother was giddy and wide-eyed the whole time. I didn’t get it. She’d been to New York plenty of times, so it wasn’t as if she was awestruck of the city. She explained, “I didn’t get to do this.”
By “this,” she meant live largely unencumbered with the freedom to spend Saturdays window-shopping and wandering aimlessly, gabbing with friends without anything major to worry about. When she was my age back then, she’d been married for five years and had a 2-year-old: me. She pointed out that I didn’t have to worry about keeping up with a child (or husband) or doing laundry or grocery shopping or any of the other thousands of important and sometimes very mundane things a wife and mother does to keep the household running smoothly.
She added that she wouldn’t trade me or my dad for the world—OK, maybe put us off for a year each to have lived in New York—but she wanted me, in all my breakup funk, to know just how good I had it.
And she was right. There are extraordinary perks to being single, even if a lot of people, especially women, take them for granted. It took my mother, married by then for almost 30 years, to point it out to me.
So, yes, I get where you’re coming from. And yes, I won’t lie, there are things you missed out on. But you’ve got a stable home, a solid man and a child who I’m sure adores you both. You’re looking at someone else’s grass, and while your own yard might not be landscaped the way you like, your grass is green, too. Cultivate your lawn so it stays that way.
You’re married and a mom. Your life is not over, it just comes with more responsibilities and requires more advance planning. You want to see the world? What’s stopping you? Kids and husbands are both allowed on planes. And that settled family man you have at home is entirely capable of parenting his own child if you want a solo getaway or a weekend with the girls. Finances? That’s what planning ahead and savings accounts are for.
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