Back when I was planning a life with babies, I created two separate to do lists. List #1 was all the fun things I wanted to do while I was still footloose and fancy-free. At the time I was anticipating single motherhood, I didn’t want to have any regrets about what I would be sacrificing, so my list included indulgences such as reading the big classic books, watching all of Oscar’s Best Picture winners, and exploring different countries and sampling their wines.
List #2 included all the fun things I wanted to do with my children, such as teaching them how to make my gram’s Christmas coffee cake, singing songs around campfires, coaching their sports teams, and demonstrating the art of touching their noses with their tongues.
I cranked through List #1, confident that I was on my path. Aaah…but life is what happens when you’ve made other plans. When I realized that baby-making was not going to happen for me, List #2 became a source of great pain. It mocked me. And what made it even more unbearable was that for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a to do list and I didn’t know how to go about creating a new one.
It seemed at times that the fearless, focused, fired-up woman I used to be had gone into hiding. I missed the gal who had passion and drive, the dreamer who confidently made plans and optimistically pursued them. Who was this “new” woman and what did she want out of life?
I don’t have answers yet. I’m still in a weird limbo, knowing that all I need is a big dream to set my heart aflutter again, then I can go about creating List #3. Till then, my list looks something like this:
- Listen to my heart
- Follow my curiosity
- Live in the now
- Find joy in every day
Deep down I’m still that fearless gal, I just need to stretch my muscles and start using them again. And most of all, I need to trust that even if my life doesn’t follow my plans to a T, I will still experience something wonderful.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is wrapping up her memoir about being a temporary single mommy and how it helped her come to terms with being childfree.