At first Paris was my dream. When Chris and I got married in 2007 I assumed that I would outgrow Paris, much like my passion for gin and tonic dinners and Hello Kitty underpants. I believed that our Parisian honeymoon would be a “once in a lifetime experience”.
Now here I am, married just over three years, and Chris and I are planning our fourth trip to Paris this coming September. And we are talking about Paris long term. What would our lives look like there? Would we try and move permanently? Or just extend our yearly stay for several months? Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think these would be the conversations I would be having during my first years of marriage.
Living in a two bedroom rented apartment, with no dining room table to discourage entertaining, Chris and I are not really following the conventional path of marriage. Our friends are having babies and locking down mortgages. They spend their weekends buying eco-friendly toilets at Home Depot and stocking up on Pampers at Costco. My e-mail inbox is full of pictures of their babies doing what I think are rather unremarkable things: sleeping, smiling, or modeling a pink fleece hoody while being pushed in a 4 x 4 stroller. I have learned to speak in one-word, baby-friendly adjectives, “adorable”, “pretty”, “sweet”.
I never wanted children. For my entire life I have known this as surely as I know that my eyes are blue. However, since turning 30 four years ago, I have been kind of holding my breath, almost expecting to wake up one morning with an unexplained longing to have a baby. It hasn’t happened and with each friend that tries to pass me their newborn, baby or toddler, I feel more and more confident that it won’t.
It's not easy. To be a 34 year married woman who doesn’t want children is kind of like being a freak. It brings back memories of being the only girl in fourth grade with short hair or the only girl in ninth grade who wanted to kiss horses more than boys. On the subject of not wanting children, both friends and strangers have made comments. Everything from calling me “selfish” to wondering who will look after Chris and me when we are older. Before our wedding, a woman giving me a pedicure (as in I was paying her!) questioned the point of getting married if we were not having children.
I am not ignorant to the importance of family. Despite some of my blogs, I know that a designer French handbag or scarf is not a replacement for a person who loves you. Mais oui, I am worried that I will be alone, 85 years old, and talking to my 55 year old LV still swaddled in its original dust bag.
And I am especially not ignorant to what children mean to their parents. There is a picture from our wedding, where my parents and I are standing at the top of the aisle and the look of love and pride on their faces is so naked it breaks my heart. All I see in that photo is love and I know that they have both more or less had that look on their faces since I was born.
But I still really don’t want children. I want Paris. As does Chris. So we find ourselves at this place in our marriage trying to decide Paris at what cost. What sacrifices are we willing to make to have our dream?
Sometimes I think it is a decision not unlike having children; it’s financially risky, anxiety inducing, it’s sleepless nights, it’s a leap of faith, and it’s making it up as you go. It is about believing in each other and it’s for the ultimate reward of a love so pure and overwhelming you can’t understand how you ever lived your life without it.
This is our dream of Paris.