Big Decisions Part IV: Escaping the “Black & White”
To be or not to be? To do or not to do? Our decisions often feel like ultimatums; either you choose one thing or the other. But does it have to be this way? My ultimatum seemed entirely black and white at face value, but once I dug down to the foundations of it, I discovered that it wasn't an ultimatum after all.
I had always known that someday I would be a mother. I wanted to have two children because, being an only child myself, I had always admired the family dynamics amongst siblings, especially the ones who were protective, caring, and close. And so as I grew into a young woman and explored relationships with different men I would often ask myself: “how would we parent our children?” This question became a useful guideline for me to compare our value systems and aspirations, and inevitably, also often marked the beginning of the end of the relationship as I would discover that he was not “THE” one.
After turning thirty, and after a few heartbreaks and dating setbacks, I was strongly considering artificial insemination and becoming a single mother, because I knew time was running out. That is when I met Dennis, the absolute love of my life. It was the kind of encounter that was serendipitous, unquestionable. I knew that we were meant to be together. I felt like I had finally found the missing piece, the home I wanted so badly. The only conundrum was that Dennis could not, and did not want to, have any more children. And so I faced a decision I never thought I would have to make: To have a life of love with my soul mate, or to have a child, without the love of my life.
Escaping the “Black & White”
We’ve talked about asking other people for their opinions on our big decisions, balancing the head and the heart, and coming to grips with the fact that only you can truly make your decision. Even a non-decision on your part is still a decision you’ve made. As I was addressing these tough issues myself during my own big decision, I stumbled upon one more question I had not yet considered: WHY do I want to have children?
It wasn’t until I sat down and wrote out all the reasons why I wanted children that I began to build some rational substance for making a decision. The five reasons I narrowed having children down to were: 1) to experience unconditional love, 2) to not be alone, 3) to influence/be part of another human’s experience of life in a positive way, 4) to give grandchildren to my parents, and 5) to experience becoming a “whole” woman.
Now you might think, “This is a very rational approach to a very delicate matter of the heart.” As I said before, BIG decisions need to embrace the heart and the head. You see, while the approach may be rational, answers to those questions were anything but. This is when you become honest with yourself: when you identify what is true for you. The radical honesty to these questions allowed me to rationalize my way to a decision.
Reasons 1 and 4 were the toughest. Perhaps you can find unconditional love in an pet, and maybe from your partner, but it would never be the same as from a child. And of course, my parents could not be grandparents no matter which way I spun it. However, I if I didn’t have children, I wouldn’t be alone either, not with Dennis. Not having children wouldn’t lesson my ability to be a part of another human’s life. I am surrounded by friends with children that I want to impact deeply with my love for them. And what does it even mean to be a “whole” woman? This question drove me into a whole new line of questioning.
In essence, what I discovered was that I didn’t have to either choose those things or not choose them. It wasn’t all that black or white. Perhaps I could not have my own children and still fill my original desires in a very real way.
So I challenge you with this question: What do you want the most from your decision, how important is that to you in your life and for your happiness, and is there another way to accomplish it that you haven’t thought of? Much of the time, making a decision does not mean shutting off all possibilities to achieve your bigger vision. And if a decision will shut off all possibilities for your vision… well, perhaps you just answered your own question.
Don’t miss Part 5 of Big Decisions, where I will talk about my eventual decision and what made everything clear for me. Learn more about me and my services or book a free discovery call with me today! I would love to hear from you.