Bag Lady or Baby Maker?

homeless-barbieA few months ago, I stopped telling people my age. To be honest, I’m perfectly fine with the number and actually feel happier than ever with where I am in life. I just accomplished a major goal of mine–I’m about to become a published author. And my dream has always been to travel—well, in the past year alone I’ve been to Paris three times and paid a trip to London as well. And I currently have the most amazing man in my life. So, the reason I stopped telling people my age? It’s other people’s reactions to the number that make me feel bad.

Back in June, when I was single, I was standing in front of my apartment building waiting for an Uber. A woman who looked maybe in her mid-fifties was walking by with a man about her same age. She stopped to give me a compliment, telling me that I looked “gorgeous” and asked if I was going on a date. I told her that I was meeting a girlfriend for a drink. Looking at me disapprovingly, she demanded to know how old I was. When I told her, she said she had thought I was much younger and that, at my age, I had no business going on a girls’ night (Umm…Isn’t that how you meet men?). She insisted I had to get on Match.com or EHarmony right away.

Then she proceeded to give me a fertility lecture, telling me how I immediately needed to find a man and start a family. I confessed that I didn’t know if I wanted children. She then asked, “Don’t you want a nice, big house and an SUV?” Just for the record, I’m cool with my cozy one-bedroom apartment and the last time I drove a man’s SUV, I dented the entire passenger side. Anyway, she insisted that I needed to have kids if I wanted to “bond” with a man. She then went on to tell me that I could date older but no one over fifty-five because his sperm would be too old. She said another option would be to go younger, adding that “younger men have strong sperm, but sometimes they aren’t ready.”

She was kind of amusing at first, but she began to make me a little uncomfortable. I tried to deflect the situation by asking if the man she was with was her husband. She sharply said, “No!” I never learned who was the man was standing behind her nodding in agreement with everything she was saying, but he did finally speak. He said the reason he was nodding was because this woman was right. He then gestured his hands up and down my body, saying, “You must reproduce this!”

 I felt like I was in the “Twilight Zone.” Who were these people? And why did they care so much about my fertility? Didn’t Halle Berry have a baby at 47? And isn’t Janet Jackson pregnant at 50? I got time!

Anyway, the woman continued her rant saying how I needed to be smart and find a man who made enough money to take care of me. For anyone who knows me, I’ve never been a girl looking for a rich husband or a man to take care of me—I’ve always followed the butterflies, not the pocketbook. This lady went on to say that women aren’t really capable of making the kind of money that men are able to. Then she said something that struck a nerve.

She said, “You don’t want to end up a bag lady.”

A bag lady?! Was this 2016? Aren’t there other options for women this day and age besides finding a husband or becoming a bag lady?

At that point, I decided to speak up for myself, telling her I was about to become a published author. She finally dropped the subject and began to ask me about my book. Luckily, the Uber drive showed up and rescued me. She had me take her number so we could continue this conversation later.

Obviously, I never called.

What I didn’t tell her was that there was no shortage of men who wanted to take me to dinner or how I would be meeting a handsome man in London the following weekend. I didn’t tell her about the time I had recently spent in Paris or about the men in my life who have wanted to marry me or that time I actually did get married. This woman just automatically pegged me as a girl who couldn’t find a man rather than a girl who set out to live a life of adventure and wasn’t going to settle for anything short of magical.

In a universe where there are no chance encounters, I began to wonder what could be the reason this woman was put in my path. The only thing that I could come up with was maybe she was simply put there to get me thinking, because on my own, as a single girl, I would never be thinking about marriage and children. The thing I do think about, however is finding true love. I’ve always felt that if I found the man I was meant to be with, the rest will fall into place. And I don’t worry so much about time. I believe in divine timing and feel if I’m meant to be a mother, God will make me one.

For this reason, when people ask me if I want children, I never know exactly how to answer. The answer is conditional. As a romantic, I believe that having a child would be a natural expression of love with the man I intend to spend the rest of my life with. The thing is that in recent years, while my love life has been quite exciting, it has been anything but stable. I know there are no guarantees in life, but I would want to feel secure that my family would stay together forever. That might sound a little naïve, but I do know it’s possible to have this type of security because I have felt this way in a relationship years ago, at a time I was not nearly ready to be anyone’s wife or mother.

Part of my hesitation is that I have so many guy friends and male clients–I’ve seen just about everything by now. I also have married men trying to pick me up in nightclubs or hitting me up on social media nearly every day. When a married man messages me asking to get together or telling me that I’m his secret crush or even to simply tell me he thinks I’m beautiful, I don’t find it flattering, I find it disheartening. I’m sure most of it is harmless flirting, but I surely wouldn’t want a husband who behaved like that. I’m a romantic who wants to believe that true love lasts forever. And I’m also an optimist, so while I do still believe that kind of love is out there, I see now how rare it is.

For a girl who prides herself on being unconventional, I have some pretty traditional views. You see, I’m not from Los Angeles. I’m from Chicago. People stay together in the Midwest. And I didn’t have the kind of father who was popping bottles in nightclubs (that’s actually a funny visual if you know my dad). I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the kind of marriage where I’m home breastfeeding while my husband is out partying. I ain’t about that life. You see, there’s a lot of talk about men giving up their single lives. But, women, especially women in major cities like Los Angeles, have exciting single lives too, sometimes even more so. I believe that when a woman has a baby, her maternal instincts naturally kick in and her family becomes everything. She will never be a free-spirit again. If I found myself in a situation where I was married to man who was still trolling for girls on the Internet, I know I would regret giving my heart, my body, my soul, and potentially a child to a man whose sense of loyalty doesn’t match my own when I could have easily been sipping champagne on a yacht in Monaco or doing the tango in Buenos Aires.

To be honest, though, even though this is genuinely how I feel—it is mostly fear talking. I do know that there are devoted husbands and fathers in this world, and yes, even in Los Angeles. Before I started working at a country club in Cheviot Hills, I didn’t realize that normal families existed in L.A. That just wasn’t my world. But, at the country club, I’ve met some really happy families (and even a wonderful husband for my best friend), which gives me hope the man for me is out there somewhere.

And if he’s not, then there’s a chance that woman on the street was right. Maybe I will end up a bag lady, but at least I’ll have great stories to tell♥

Passion, Devotion & My Parents

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I once heard that the greatest gift you can give your children is two parents who love each other. Growing up, I had the idea that love was passion and having sex on the kitchen countertops; so I began to develop a perverse fascination as to whether my parents were getting it on. My little brother would tell me, “Eeeew. Stop with that! You’re so weird!” But to me, it was really important to know that my parents were madly in love.

New Year’s Eve was one of my favorite holidays because it was the one night I would see my dad passionately kiss my mom. My parents aren’t big drinkers, but on this night, they would each have a glass of wine. My little brother and I would sip on sparkling grape juice as we watched the countdown on TV. And, at the stroke of midnight, my dad would give my mom an open-mouthed kiss, a French kiss, as I would cheer them on. Although my parents always pecked each other on the lips and told each other “I love you,” I remember wondering why my dad didn’t kiss my mom like every day was New Year’s Eve.

Another time, when I was home from college and Christmas shopping with my dad, I came across a beautiful red nightgown, much more risqué than anything my mom would pick out for herself. I immediately told my dad to buy the nightie for my mom. He very sternly said, “Amy, she doesn’t like when I buy her clothes.” I said, “Dad, just trust me. Get her the nightgown.” Surprisingly, he listened. And when my mom opened the gift, her face lit up. I’m not sure if she ever actually wore the nightie, but it did make her very happy and added a little spice around the Christmas tree.

As I grew up, I became less concerned about my parents’ sex life, but I did come to appreciate my dad’s constant devotion to my mother. For instance, my mom recently had to have knee replacement surgery. While everyone was advising her to stay in the hospital as long as her insurance would allow, my mom confessed to me that she really just wanted to go home as soon as she could because my father takes much better care of her than any nurse. On the day of her operation, I called my dad to see how she was doing. My dad assured me that everything went smoothly and said she was in the recovery room. He sounded a bit anxious as he told me, “I can’t see her for two hours.” I said, “Aaaaaw Dad. It sounds like you miss her.” As if that was a really dumb thing for me to say, he snapped back and said, “Of course I miss her!”

When I called the next day to check in, I asked my dad, “How is your patient?” He said, “She is not my patient. She is my wife.” I giggled and had him put mom on the phone. The next time I called, my mom couldn’t talk because my dad was about to wash her hair. When we finally caught up, she told me, “Your dad really took his marriage vows seriously.”

When I write about my dad, I usually write about how gruff he is or how hard he was on me for some of the choices I’ve made; I realize that I don’t give him enough credit for being a devoted husband and father. For such a tough guy, he really does have a gentle side, especially when it comes to my mom. She truly is his everything.

As for me, I’m still that girl who believes you can’t have love without passion, but what I’ve learned from my parents is that true love is devotion…and of course, sex on the kitchen countertops♥

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