“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” – Coco Chanel
A good friend forwarded the above quote to me, during a time when both of us were struggling with work challenges. It seemed again and again we were bumping into the same issues, with the same client. At some point, I had to stop and ask myself, “Can I really change what’s going on here, or am I the one who needs to change?”
Like many of you, as I scrambled through the final stages of my potential childbearing years, I frantically concocted Plans A, B, and C. I’ll work the online dating thing and find the man who will marry me and be the perfect father! I’ll google sperm banks and find a handsome and Harvard-educated donor! I’ll adopt! Didn’t matter how hard I beat that wall, none of my plans opened up the parenthood door for me.
Now, resigned to being childfree, I may have given up on finding that one particular door, but I’m still interested in what is outside the box I built for myself, the one that confines me and my worth in our society only to the role of “mother.” I’m now looking for windows. The view to the east shows me as my nephews’ favorite aunt, the adult who is always there for them. To the west, I am a prolific novelist, with time and energy to create great characters. South of here, my husband and I become world travelers. The window facing north reveals an open landscape, allowing my imagination to expand beyond the horizon to who knows what.
The end of the year is traditionally a time to reflect as well as to think about goals, dreams, and resolutions for the new year. As you prepare for a new beginning, I invite you to lower your fists, lick your wounds, and start looking for your window. There’s a whole world of possibilities out there, outside of this box. Let’s go explore.
Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Like Ms. Chanel, she is childfree.