The settling gene…

I was walking home tonight, when I saw guy I know from work waiting at the bus stop.  Normally I would just say ‘hi’ and continue walking (I don’t know him so well), but he waved me over with a huge grin on his face.

“What’s up?”, I asked.

His reply was to show me his cell phone with a picture of his two-week old baby boy on it. (Last time I saw him, he was still expecting.)

I think I reacted appropriately. “Wow! So cute! Congratulations!”  That’s a normal reaction, right?

The thing is… I faked it.  Just as Miranda Hobbes fakes her sonogram in Sex and the City (Season 4, “Change of a Dress”), I faked my reaction to this guy’s baby.  I mean, yeah, it’s great news. And he was clearly thrilled. But it’s so hard to get excited about other people’s kids.

I’m definitely at that age where all my friends are buying houses, getting married and having babies (although not necessarily in that order!), and I can’t help wondering… is there such a thing as a ‘settling gene’?  And, if so, do I have one?

As a single girl in her (gulp!) late-twenties, living in rented accommodation, and doing a job which, let’s face it, probably isn’t a lifelong career, I really do feel worlds apart from most of my friends right now. But I have no maternal instinct urging me to settle down and procreate. I do want to buy a house someday, but I don’t know where I want to live yet. And I don’t know if I want to buy that house with someone, or go it alone.

Two of my co-workers are planning weddings right now, and two of my best friends back home got married last year.  Another of my friends back home is getting married really soon, and one of the best friends mentioned above is about to have her first baby. I’m thrilled for them all, I really am.  But I do find it hard to really be interested in it all when, honestly, I’m not. I’m mean, of course I’m interested in my friends and what they’re doing. But I’m not really interested in weddings and babies.

Is it possible that I am in fact just missing a gene? A gene which would make me dream of white weddings and storks?  I am romantic, and I’m not opposed to the idea of settling down (with the right person), but it doesn’t seem to be something I’m going to be doing this side of thirty. And if I do settle down, I really don’t think there will be any babies!

I don’t think I’m completely alone in this line of thought, though.  In fact, I’m reading a great book at the moment (The Group by Mary McCarthy), with this excellent line in it:

It was plain to Polly that many of her married classmates were disappointed in their husbands and envied the girls, like Helena, who had not got married.

Maybe I, like Helena, could seem to have an enviable life, at least to those who are unhappy with their own. I have no ties, from either a husband or a baby, which means I am able to live in a foreign country and basically do as I please. My free time is my own, my money is my own, my choices are my own.  I don’t really have to answer to anyone, and I’m free to change my mind, my hairstyle, and my sheets 😉 as often as I like.  Maybe I’m better off without the settling gene?

What do you think?

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7 Comments on “The settling gene…”

  1. sioux says:

    Settle for whatever makes you happy, whether thats babies, wddings, husband, partner, career or job, abroad or home country.

    I think I do have a ‘settling gene’ but mine means I like living in the UK and holidaying abroad but don’t have the burning desire for babies and weddings nd I’m mid 30’s so you have nothing to worry about 🙂

  2. Liz says:

    I think it’s probably a mixture of nature and nurture. My parents’ not very happy or exemplary marriage makes me more determined to create a strong family home myself. My Christian faith also makes me believe that family is inherently a good thing and everybody should have a community to support them even if that’s not a traditional family unit.

    And, even though I want my own children, I’m not really that excited by other people’s either, don’t worry!

  3. Liz says:

    I´ve just read your previous blog post about John Goddard; it seems one of his goals was to marry and have kids, which he’s done (he has SIX kids!) so maybe settling down isn’t completely incompatible with an adventurous spirit! lol!

  4. Haikugirl says:

    Thanks for the comments, ladies!

    I wanted to add an afterthought to this post… Here’s one of my two favourite ever Sex and the City quotes:

    “Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free til they find someone just as wild to run with them.” (Season 2, “Ex and the City”)

    And here’s the other:

    “I’m looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.” (Season 6, “An American Girl in Paris (part deux”).

    Now, what does that say about me…??

  5. Haikugirl says:

    P.S. Here’s a comment I received on FB from my friend Chuck, that I wanted to add here:

    A nice piece of writing Ali, but I don’t think this has anything to do with whether of not you have a settling gene — if there even is such a thing. What your essay is really about, is you beginning to come to terms with having chosen a life that’s very different from most people you know back home and as you come to terms with it realizing this: now that you’re in the middle of it with no idea really yet where it’s all going to lead, you’re not about to settle for anything less than the full adventure. Good for you, I say. Since you’ve already taken the step to follow your dreams and see where they lead, the next step is to accept that you’re not the same as the common lot — not that there’s anything wrong with the common lot. It’s just not your thing. Accept it and live it. Hemingway once said something like “the hardest thing for a person to do is to come to terms with how they -really feel about things” as opposed to how they feel they’re supposed to feel about things — and then express what they really feel and live what they know to be true for them. That’s probably more apropos than the Mary McCarthy — tho that’s certainly a good read^^

  6. Gwynnie says:

    Hey Ali, decided to scroll through people’s blogs while at work… your friend pretty much said what I was going to say, I think. I’m with you, though… I feel there’s some sort of pressure to settle down, get married and have babies, and that people see you as some sort of freak if you don’t want that. Now I’ve always imagined having kids, but then the older I get the further along I want to push it, and right now I’m thinking that the pride that comes from teaching might be enough for now… because in all my visions of my kids, they are asking me questions about the world and I am explaining things to them (and they’re super intelligent, of course, so they understand)!! If everyone had the “gene” perhaps nothing would get done… I spoke to some other people who are in Japan, and they reckon that 1 in 10 people have a “novelty seeking” gene – we are not happy with a static, generic life, we need excitement and independence. But does it matter, at all, if we don’t? Perhaps all life has the innate instinct to procreate but we have choices, and at the end of the day as long as you’re happy with your choices then you should have no regrets. Oh and I think babies are like dreams… they’re not that interesting to anyone except to the person who had them.

  7. Haikugirl says:

    I love your last comment especially, Gwynnie… “babies are like dreams… they’re not that interesting to anyone except to the person who had them”. I think that is a classic Gwynnism. 😉


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