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October 20, 2009


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Five years ago my husband and I decided we wanted to have a kid. Since then many facets of our life have been put on hold while we go through treatments, depression and make big decisions about what the hell to do next. Now we're not 'allowed' to move house so we're stuck renting and we have to show how stable we are, so my husband is stuck in the same contract position that is not what he wants for his career. All of this in the hope that we might get approved to adopt and then might be one of the 20 families who are matched with a baby every year.

I feel like we're wasting time, but I'm not ready to move on yet. So for now I dream about adopting a baby and facilitating an open relationship with the birth family. Of building an uber green house out in the family friendly inner rural suburbs where we live now. I dream about being a Mum and not being invisible in a world that doesn't value childless people.

But I have another dream too. A dream where we're denied and move on as an involuntary childless couple. We build a house without a nursery and room for a family. We indulge ourselves and follow every yellow brick road. I go back to study and finally start a career. We get another dog, we take more holidays, we act completely selfishly and are unapologetic for it.

It's nice to dream, but it's still fucking scary not knowing which road we're going to be sent down by the people with the power.

Jae Young

Hum, it's funny that you posted about this. I was eating brunch in my local coffee place where I listened to three twenty-something men who were discussing how the internet fosters and facilitates envy. I think their theory was the internet has blogs and things you can read about how people lead cool lives and this makes you jealous. There seemed to be a huge fixation on law school. I found all of this peculiar as none of them seemed incapable of going to law school. I mean ignoring the issues of crippling debt, etc. And as I am a lawyer myself, I didn't really see what was so great about law school. (Nothing, cos law school definitely sucks. You don't really learn anything.)

But being both single and childless, I love my freedom and I try to travel a ton. In terms of other stuff, I don't really do wild or crazy stuff otherwise. I'm not reckless or romantic by nature and I really do function better with structure. How boring it sounds! But I traveled to Argentina for two weeks by myself, so I try to live it up. It would help if I were rolling a little more in the dough too, to fund this potentially carefree lifestyle.


PK! it's your long lost brother with 2cents... up until the age of 30 i'd say our lives had a certain parallel and assumed future trajetory - party like rockstars in our 20s, get married in our 30's, have some kids, try to afford bringing them up in NYC and hope they turn out normal...
then 9/11 happened, i had a mental crisis, pondered life - and made the switch into "bizarro" world.
i can't say that i barely pay the rent, but it's a hell of a lot closer to that than the other end of my spectrum.
thing is, i have fantasies too. ski bum sounds like fun. hs basketball coach would be rewarding. but one you might not think of is that i'd like to be married and have kids, with a job which lets me spend alot of time fathering them. but i can't do that. i live in an apt 1/10th the size of my old loft. i don't budget a car. and i've made a semi-conscious choice not to get married until i get sorted in my professional life.
i love what i do - and there are days like today where i have to pinch myself, but i've given up alot and my future is far from certain... it's choices - not enough hours in the day to have it all.


I read your blog all the time. Sometimes it provides clarity from a unique perspective that I've never heard before. Other times, it confuses me because I don't know what to expect out of life.

Either way, thanks for sharing your views on life. In a weird sort of way, it really helps.


I never traveled before I got married. We didn't travel afterward, either. I didn't make it back to school, or find a career-track job that I loved. The pot of gold at the end of the college-graduation rainbow never materialized. I worked a boring, menial office job that paid little more than minimum wage, even though I had a college degree. I never could figure out how to get myself closer to the life I wanted to live. And then we had a baby. And nothing much changed. Because we were never going to do any of that anyway. We were never going to go on safari or move to Paris or backpack through Europe. We just weren't. Some people aren't meant to, I guess. I will never fool myself into believing that I gave anything up for my daughter's sake, but sometimes I read blogs and feel a gut-wrenching stab of envy for my life that never was.


Gaugin was wrong. Dickens was impressive. Either way, I think you've got it all figured out.

It's truly refreshing (and rewarding) to hear things from the "Dad's point of view." I"m totally earnest and, either way, I enjoy hearing your take on things.

In many ways, I couldn't agree more.


I kind of love you for this post.


I've never known a dad who talks about these things like you do. I wish my husband did. Then again, maybe I wish he didn't.

Sadie P.

I've never defined myself by what I do either. At the same time, I DO wish my life were different. Is it because of the responsibility of being a wife and having kids? I'm not so sure anymore.

All I know is that if I didn't cling to my dreams, I'm not sure what I'd have to cling on to. Thanks for writing this, MD. I appreciate it more than you'll ever know.


I wish I knew the kind of mothers who would admit to ever thinking about a pretend life that didn't involve their precious angels. I love and adore my kids and most of the time it tickles me that going to the park at 10am is part of my job. But sometimes I just want to be Left. Alone....or to have a complete thought w/o someone interrupting me. I think about being a PhD candidate (which I would be by now had I not left graduate school to follow my Marine husband to the ends of the earth)...or about not wearing someone else's breakfast...or about having SOMETHING to say at dinner parties that doesn't have to do with soccer or preschool or nap schedules.

I'm so glad you wrote this post b/c honestly maybe it's just the people I hang out with but I feel like the only one.


I recently did imagine if I could still be single. After being married to a useless piece of shit who moved to a faraway place to be with me but with no job, no money, basically no nothing and depending on me to be the provider for everything. I finally got real sick of this life. we still have to rent a place, can't plan to have a child and can't do anything that a normal marriage/family is doing. I wish I could boot his ass out. Maybe I really should. What was I thinking in the first place?!


A job that's unchallenging yet pays well and allows you to spend an inordinate amount of time with your daughter, sounds familiar. I am in the exact same boat. I miss the job satisfaction but yet wouldn't trade it for the world.

Love your blog, keep up the good work.




this morning, I read this blog there was 41 comments. And now its 65 comments. WOW! everybody miss you....
mmm I guess I want to be a surgeon, then everybody will let me to cut their body and they will pay me for it...
or orthopedist, cool..........


I'm not living my life like I imagined. Far from it. Looking back, I had no idea that getting married and having a kid was so important to me. I took it for granted. Now I feel like it's too late.


I love being a mom and I love the time I spend with my kids but I'm tormented by the sad realization that I married the wrong man. He's not my best friend. He's not an adequate husband. He's an uninvolved father.

My daily fantasies revolve around sharing my life with someone I really love who can appreciate and love my kids as much as I do.

I fantasize about this all the time.


It's funny, I've always been a driver. When I was 22 I quit my job and drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming the next day, only to realize I wanted to drive back two days later. I guess I've always been and escaper then. Anyway, with two kids and I job I love (at home dad) I don't want to escape as much as I used to, but when the moment is right I do imagine myself on the road heading, well, anywhere. So on my day off I get in the car and just go, to a town I've never been to, or a coffee shop where I don't recognize anyone, and simply return six hours later, satisfied.


I fantasize about how my life would be different WITH kids or a spouse. I always thought I cherished my independence but as I get older, I long for the permanence and comforts of an immediate family to call my own. I wonder if it's too late sometimes.

Dee G

In my 20s I took the cool vacations, lived in Venice, Italy for a while reading and writing in cafes and looking at great art in the afternoon; lived in Chicago with very clear opinions on which were cool restaurants and clubs, cared about clothes, mocked tabloid lives of celebrities, worked out religiously, spas, etc. Then in my early 30s I met my husband, had the first child (second on the way!), and moved to the 'burbs. Skinny jeans and Manolo boots are neatly tucked in the closet, in favor of "comfort" pants and pullover sweaters. While the latter live may seem more superficially boring, it is so much more substantively rewarding, I would never give it up. As for working the high-stress high-pay job, I look at it this way. I could probably quit and live the "minimal expense" life, and be content for me. But I am uniquely positioned to build wealth for my family in a way that may not always be there in the future, or which my offspring/future generations may not be able to achieve either. So maybe I'll never write a great novel, or paint a picture to hang at the local art gallery. No question my job involves high stress and drudgery. But to be able to nurture and sustain my family not only now, but years or decades from now, is itself a worthy goal.

The larger problem is that this is one of the first generations where as a society (pop-culture-wise) we are placing ever-higher status value on nurturing ourselves and trend-of-the-moment rather than building the next generation/classical civilization. It is no wonder we have "quarter-life" and "mid-life" crises. "Society" screams at you, "if it feels good, do it now" as the ultimate virtue, when reality tells you at your core that this is utter bunk, because the greatest joy will ultimately come from your family, fidelity, your children, giving to others, sticking something out over the long haul, etc.

Stella P.

I don't fantasize as much as I give myself moments to escape...into solitude, books, music, photography and painting. My life isn't what I thought it would be. Although I'm happily married with children, I live in the suburbs and I find the lifestyle here stifling. I have no friends and there's very little to do here. If I didn't have things to occupy my mind, I'm sure I'd go crazy.


I can't speak for bosslady but I have to imagine that this post would make her feel like total crap. Your midlife crisis seems to have overwhelmed you. Maybe grow up a bit??

Mama Nabi

If I were single and childless, I'd be sitting in a cafe, writing and reading during the day, then going out for drinks with other single friends, and constantly longing for someone with whom to do all those things while surrounded by peals of kiddie giggles and laughter.

I am on the greener grass already. And, according to LN, I am Spiderwoman.

Is the greener grass of yours green from the sunshine or green from a fancy paint can?


get over yourself! seriously! there's a difference between self-aware and self-absorbed and you've crossed the border. Caring for her has removed options in your life? How about thanking her for opening the door to a new world of love you would have never known existed? sure its easy to fantasize when you're sitting around by your lonesome self in your underwear and socks. but here's a thought...go do something! mentor a kid. volunteer at any one of the thousands of worthwhile charities at your fingertips. show your daughter not to take anything for granted. your life has changed significantly. what will you do with it now?


The grass is always greener.

I'm childless, and with a partner who shares my career ambitions of working internationally, fighting crime. But I've got to put my time in, practicing law domestically until I've got the experience to go to the Hague. There's always something!

There's no reason why you can't travel and see your daughter-don't use your responsibilities as an excuse! Get out there and do it!


Dude, lighten up. I just found out that a friend's 6 year old has terminal cancer. I don't know but life's too short to envy lives that we probably don't want to live anyway. If I HAD to fantasize and dream about something? I'd want to be living on the coast and travel the world with my kid. She's too hilarious to not be without! She's a keeper. Just appreciate what you've already got dude and keep dreaming.


People don't seem to get that you're only FANTASIZING about how life could be different without a kid. Nothing wrong with that, MD. Keep up the great writing. I love seeing that you have a new post up.


I don't think age makes the difference.

I think you'd have done the same given the chance to do over.

whether you're nineteen or forty. you're still the same you. with a lot of wrinkles. =)

and love handles.


Uh, yeah...all the time. Not in an obsessive way, but I don't think my life would be that much different without kids except I would have more money. Ok, that's a big difference. I'm a designer who works for myself, something I have always wanted to do and now find somewhat unfulfilling. I don't however, let the fact that I have a kid get in my way of doing things I still want to do (within reason).

Three years after giving birth and needing a new goal I decided at age 42 to start doing triathlons. I have always been an athlete (soccer and karate), but not a runner, cyclist or swimmer. I had a great first season and accomplished more than I could have ever dreamed possible. I started a blog about my journey and have connected with so many other mothers, pros, and everyday folks doing the same thing.

My son, even at his tender age, is so supportive and loves to talk to me about "racing really fast". I'm hoping that I am setting a good example for him.

However.....I would love to be sitting on a beach doing nothing, ok, maybe reading or writing. I'm so sick of painting.

Frank C

When the pressures of parenting and work produce stress (especially in this economy,) it's only natural to think about pulling a "Gaugin." Nothing wrong with a little fantasy. Helps keep us sane. Nice post.


fascinating post and even more fascinating commentary... there is something very "Post Secret"-ish about a lot of the comments you're getting on this post, MD.

as a member of the single and childless contingent, I think about this stuff all the time but I'm also aware that being able to think about this kind of stuff is a luxury. I don't feel bad about it, though, as I agree with you that a certain amount of "what if?" is healthy - as long as the what ifs don't blind you from appreciating what you already have.

I'm trying my best to live it up by traveling a ton while I'm still in my 20s (for about another year, anyway) and be grateful that I have the health and the means to do so... but I'd be lying if I didn't think about how my life might look different if I'd chosen to marry and have kids already. it's just an idle curiosity, though, nothing too overwhelming.

btw, for what it's worth, my list looks freakishly similar to yours. stop jocking my style, MD.


I do sometimes daydream about a different life. I don't think that changes after your kids are grown. My daughter is 27. My other life, is just different now. Sometimes I think it is healthy to fantasize and other times not. I can say, it does help me to fall asleep some nights when I have a hard time doing so.


I miscarried at 10 weeks many years ago, then my hopes to have another baby were dashed when I got a PE in my right lung not two months after that. After much thoughtd the Huz and I decided to adopt. The kiddo is the light of our lives. As it goes in life, she has some challenges developmentally -she was not listed as a child with special needs, just happened to be one after all- so life as it were is different than what I thought it would be 10 years previous when I dreamed of what it would be like to be a mother.

There are moments when I do think about life without a child, or life with a child without special needs. There are times when I think about a life not being married. In each I would have a dedicated art studio. In those dreams my house would be immaculate, in fact, it would look like it was just in a photo shoot. In those dreams I would be traveling around the world more and I would be saving actual money for retirement. In that life I would also be dressed nicer. But in the end, back to reality I realize that in that dream life I would be missing the laughter and silliness of my daughter. And that the sunshine in our lives would be just a tone darker and that the cauldron in my heart a little less spacious. More importantly I know that the life in my dreams would mean I have less patience and compassion. I would not know my strength or be as tested as I am now, and I would not be as grateful for the life I have and for the people who grace my presence with their insight and love.


1) buy some valerian root or melatonin
2) i love nick hornby and must pick up the new book.
3) i would travel for 2 months of every year to a different country, learn the language, immerse myself in the culture. if i didn't need a job with insurance to support my family, that's what i'd do.

great post.. very thought provoking!


A long time ago I decided I am lazier than I am greedy. BUT. Some of the people I went to grad school with have high powered positions in and around government. Sometimes I wish I had taken that path. But then I look at my life and realize that would not have made me happier than I am now.


Like you, I try to face forward when contemplating my life. But, there are times when everyone looks back and wonders. . what if? What if I had gone to a different college? Married a different person? Chose a different career. . fill in the blank.

I agree with the other responses. . sometimes I feel like a square peg in the round hole of life. insert chuckle : P

Seriously, sometimes my life is like a football game with bad refs. What if they hadn't called that foul? What if we had made the TD in the 4th qtr? Sure things would be different and the Tigers would have beat the Wildcats last week but meh.

We live, we learn, we move on. Thank you for such an honest post. btw, Peanut is very lucky to have you for her dad!


I think you have to distinguish between accomplishments that are meaningful to large numbers of people and those meaningful to you. The small sacrifices of everyday that parents make are the bread and butter of life - we can't all be genius painters and artists. But we can do what we do with purpose and effort. What better way to allocate your energy than to pour it into your child? I think moving into your 30's and 40's involved really facing that your ability to do everything and anything has ended.

Great genius is often born out of great conflict and isolation in the artists life. Those men accomplished quite a lot in some ways - but also were epic failures in having relationships. Do you really want to die crazy and alone having created a large body of work - or would you rather be a blogwriting dad with a great kid that you poured your energy into? I'd rather have the relationships


Wow, your post and many of the comments may help form my future decision on kids (DINK now, and no intent of a pup anytime soon). Have you seen "Revolutionary Road?" Don't watch alone before bed - good movie, but may end up solidifying a "how the heck did I get here?" feeling.

Currently, my husband gets his vicarious thrills from following the world travels of a silverspooned childhood friend. I get mine by reading blogs. We are living most of what we want, traveling frequently, but there will always be the greener grass elsewhere. That greener grass somehow motivates and discourages us at the same time. But, I love that I have an honest partner and we know what each other wants at all times.

Papa Bradstein

I'd travel abroad with Mama more, and when they get older, that's exactly what we'll do. Of course, on our two nonprofit salaries, we'll be traveling in steerage, but I figure we can put the kids to work along the way to pay for upgrades.

Parentopia Devra

There are so many comments I've not read through them, so if I am already repeating something, pretend you haven't read it before. Everytime I read "Nick Hornby" I picture Bruce Hornsby and then I get "Mandolin Rain" as an earworm.


I am 23 with a 14-month daughter, my fantasie when i got pregnant was to take my maternity leave go back living with my mom for a month and then leave with my fianceto somewhere else better where i would raise my kid and only take a part time job at a coffee shop, seems simple for a fantasie but it's better than the real thing, my fiance isn't back yet (he is leaving in another city) and everyday my heart breaks when i take my daughter to daycare because i have to look for a job because things didn't worked out the way it supoused.


If I am single and childless, I would be working my ass off now. By 35, I will pack my bag and move to Tibetan refugee camp in India to work with the children.


came across this today:

seems timely

Naveen Bachwani

Sure, we all have fantasies about living a different Life... whether or not we have kids! As parents of two, me and the mrs. often talk about our love for Travel, and how we need to make the time for it. In fact, we have just started a saving fund for it, now that the kids have reached a manageable age.

But, I don't think it's a matter of cramming every thing in your life while you're still young, single and childless. Every day matters. And it's up to every one of us to make the most of each moment.

If that doesn't work, there's always the Batman costume or the Porsche, right?!

I think your're pathetic

you're a loser. get over yourself. keep blabbing for more attention. because that is what you want. why do you think you are getting divorced? because you are all about yourself. stop making it seem like you do everything for your child- you are actually all about yourself, blog, marriage, etc.


i have come so close to letting it all go...but dont think i wud be able to live with myself by not being there for the people who loves me and for whom iam responsible for .... but sometime in my life, i wud love to take up sanyas , go to the himalayas and meditate and die in some caves, hopefully having figured it all out ..

susan in ca :)

i am married with a 7 year old...just wanted to say loved this topic...who doesn't think about the other side...after all they say it's greener...by the way loved your choice #1


I married before I was 18 and by age 27 I was a young widow with 2 sons. Throughout those years, I thought how easier my life would be if I didn't have children. How free I would be to come and go as I pleased, no child care, no dinners to get, no sick children...I could party til dawn every night. I could be a "sex in the city" girl.
Still, I managed to complete college, travel, have plenty of lovers and tried my hand at a variety of careers. So, as I reflect, I managed to do a lot of what I wanted to do.
When my oldest son left for college, people asked me if I felt sad, or empty and I truly didn't. What I felt was a sense of relief and I still had a child at home.
After my second son left, I would find myself looking longingly at little boys, or sets of brothers in stores or downtown. It was only then that I realized what I had experienced as a parent was the best time of my life.
Today, I have a very rewarding, challenging job, that makes a difference in people's lives and I travel, have friends and money. But my most important role is that of grandmother.(TheMonk, Swee'Pea, Golden Boy and The Bug)It is they who give my life that extra umpf. My relatioship with them is so important to me because I know that they are my last chance to love and experience the love of children again. So, there it is, Pierre.
PS. If I didn't have grandchildren, I would be a fairy godmother.

Buck H.

2 words - warrior monk!

amy sue nathan

You know what's scary to me? I can't imagine a life without my kids around...and my son will leave for college in August and my daughter 3 years later. I've tried and do try to prepare for life as a parent with college-age kids far away...but I can't. I draw a blank. So you're lucky. Dream on.


For the first time in a LONG time I am not fantasizing about the distant future. I have found myself in a job that I love- teaching college, which gives me lots of free time, challenges me constantly and makes me feel like I'm contributing something to people's lives (even if it's only how to properly punctuate "it's" at the moment). I don't think I could handle a job that doesn't challenge me. But maybe that's because I have the luxury.
I also have a boyfriend I love, but at the same time, I'm finishing up my masters and wondering where I'll move next. A husband and kids do weigh you down, but I still think about it and plan for it, if not immediately. I need to go live abroad for a little while first. :)
I'm glad that you have these fantasies. They're great. And some of them will be waiting for you when the Peanut gets to an age where you can let her go off and experience her own fantasies. I like that you are wise enough to realize the difference between fantasy and real life. So many parents seem to forget that. And that is why that Frederick Douglass quote you have above resonates so much with me.


My dad always said that the grass was greener on the the other side because there was more shit over there. Makes sense.

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