Unravel Me

Freedom, Choices, Charting A Path, Life Happens On It's Own Timeline. Or Not?

Things are never, ever perfect in life. There are always risks and tradeoffs, pros and cons. Moving and taking a chance on a new position has afforded me more opportunities than I'd ever have had in my old position. So career-wise, it's a grow-and-stretch kind of opportunity and I'm learning so much. If you told me a couple of years ago that I'd be in an assistant dean-level faculty position at a medical school I'd have looked at you like you were out of your mind. Sometimes I still don't believe it.

Impostor syndrome is real, especially for women. On the one hand, I have the quiet confidence to do what I need to do and do it well and people might sometimes underestimate that because I don't (think) I have an intimidating aura and in fact, I (think, though I'm not obviously the one to judge it), I'm pretty damn down-to-earth.

But on the other hand, any time a lot is asked of you, you doubt yourself and you worry, "OMG what if I fail?". My former mentor at my old workplace, who holds a counterpart position at a peer institution told me when I was looking to make a move to this position, that she worries about it every day. It's the nature of the game. At this level, the difference is palpable in a way it never really was before, that I really am in a male-dominated field and workplace. There are women but definitely in the minority and still more in support positions than leadership.

I have a lot floating around right now in my melon, related to gender, career, work-life balance...but I'm not sure it all goes in one entry.

I'm thinking about trying online dating more seriously now that I'm in a new city and now that I'm finally starting to feel a bit more settled as things at work that I've been building since I've come here are starting to launch and hopefully go into more of an equilibrium.

But let me also fast forward to something else. I'm in my early 40's. But I still would like to have children (or maybe now I just need to reframe it to the singular: "a child" (barring twins)). I recently learned of two women, probably a few years older than I am, both very successful physician-researchers. Both happen to be Asian American. Both just never met "Mr. Right" because of or in spite of their career success. Both attractive, with good personalities. And both (who also incidentally earn much more than I do and have probably saved up more than I have, and over more years because they are long professionally established), have pursued the Choice Mom route...or Single Motherhood By Choice.

I've never been opposed to it, but I've never felt particularly strongly for it either....other than on a purely theoretical reproductive freedom and gender equity level....that women who want to have children and can afford to go that route should be able to. I've always been neutral but open-minded/agnostic about it in terms of thinking about it for myself. And I think it's because it's taken me much longer to get onto my feet because of my stamina/autoimmune issues, which slowed down my path and sometimes still make things feel tenuous even if that's more subjective than anything. So I very much feel unprepared to pursue anything like that financially or otherwise at the moment.

And my ambivalence also stems from the fact that with Asian American parents who hold very much traditional (NOT conservative, but more, just traditional values as a function of ethnicity and probably moreso age (80+)), I've never been sure how much they'd embrace or support that type of pursuit. My sister probably would, though she probably would agree that with my health and me just getting established in the academic career that should have happened in this way maybe 5-10 years ago, I might not be in any position to consider this without being out of my mind.

Is being a choice mom going to be my only option, and even then, with my age and ethnicity (I've read Asian women tend to have higher failure at assisted reproduction/IVF and that their fertility declines sooner than white women, ironically, I might add bc so many Asian women look much younger than they really are)......will my only chance at having children also wind up being one that is too expensive and that I can never afford?

My mom had me when she was 39 and she turned 40 six months after I was born, so she reassures my fertility in our family isn't a problem. But each woman is different, and she was 39, not 41 going on 42. So perhaps if I'm lucky, there is a chance I'm still fertile if I were to meet Mr. Right, or try to conceive via other means.

But, given my age, statistically the odds get higher each month or year, that my fertility might mean motherhood may not come w/o help. So that means fertility treatment via either a turkey baster so to speak, IUI, or most expensively, IVF. Which then could beget you twins (be careful what you wish for!). And I just learned that my workplace sponsored insurance plan decided as of the new year to stop covering IVF.

Sometimes I wonder what is in store for me and how much I can make happen for myself in the same way I took chances and despite limited stamina and autoimmune health problems, I set my mind on something, pursued it and it became a reality? In matters of the heart and other, life doesn't quite work on that same way. There's luck, chemistry, and hard work to really make things work in the way you want them to. And I guess, in the case of having kids for so many women, especially older women, and I guess especially singe women who decide to go it alone, there's $$$ involved.

Yes, I get many steps ahead of myself. A friend of mine who is very similar to me (she's bright, successful, beautiful and took a chance on a job in a city she knows no one--Boston, soon after I moved to where I currently live--and who is single currently with no one on the horizon, just like me)...we were talking recently about our plans to get back online but this time more seriously and with more of a focused effort to meet someone if he even exists.

The bottom line is that I would like companionship. I want to find a partner. A man with whom I click and am compatible. My sister married last summer and she's five years older than I am, and for her, marrying created an instant family because she now has a step-son (and that made me an aunt because I refer to him as my nephew and he's a likable, good kid). I'd like that type of companionship because of course no one wants to go through life or grow old alone.

But I also want children--though now at this stage you can not let that be known while dating or you appear desperate, unfortunately if you're a woman. Men who are your age all want to date a 25 or 30 year old who can have their babies. And they assume that if you've gotten to your age without having kids, you must not have wanted them. It's unfair, but that's just how it is. I want children and while I'd want in theory for single motherhood by choice to be an option if I could afford it for when I feel a bit more settled than I currently feel, and have saved up a bit more financially, I still want to co-parent with a partner/spouse, not go it alone.

I admire those who are single parents for being able to go it alone--some by choice, others through other circumstances that leave them as single moms or dads. It's hard enough to have sleepless nights and no time to yourself to even shower or nap or feed yourself, but to not have an extra pair of hands, and the emotional/moral support of a partner--I can only imagine that it's tough.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this other than to say that despite being excited about all of the opportunities that I'm trying to pursue and build in the job I took in late 2014 and that I uprooted myself and moved and gave up familiarity for the most part, for......there is still more that I want, and that is to complete my life because I feel ready to settle down.

And that's another story I can write about for another time. When do men vs. women feel ready to settle down? Is it a biological clock? Is it when you've established your career? Is it when you are financially ready? Or is it influenced by something else (e.g. unique circumstances like disability/chronic illness/having other responsibilities in life like caring for older parents)? Is it when society tells you it's the right time or that it's too late and that you're doomed to be alone or to never have kids?

With all that I've written about, I WILL say, that I've always held a deep seated belief that things will happen on their on time, and it's different for each person. So unlike some folks who truly get down and out depressed and have low self-esteem just for the fact that they are single and over 30 or 40 or whatever demarcation age is accepted as "too late", that has not been my outlook so far and thankfully.

But it also doesn't mean I'm impervious to wanting to marry, to possibly birth a child. And would I ever consider adoption? Adoption with a partner/spouse/co-parent? Adoption as a single mother by choice? That is yet another story I will one day write about. A couple I'm close friends with (both husband and wife are dear dear friends).....they will be adopting a newborn baby boy this spring after waiting probably five or so years. So that's a topic I'll one day come back and write about.....

What do you all think of choice-moms? Of late-to-the-dating-game career women? Of LBB's (Late-bloomer-brides)? They're very personal decisions that we have the freedom to make decisions about that at one time we didn't have as mainstream/societally accepted options. But that doesn't mean they are easy choices to make even for oneself, no matter how open minded you might be about those choices for other people, like your friends, who might choose those paths.

OK, that's enough for now. More as it happpens. Sometime. Sometimes I wish I were a regular blogger but sometimes I question if it's wise to even keep this "forgotten" corner of the web active. I miss the good old days of diaryland circa early 2000's. Not much happens here but when I see a name lit up on my buddy list, I do so love it.

7:41 p.m. ::
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