Dear “That Peace,”
You have been a complete stranger to me my entire life, until just a few months ago. And then, within the flash of a moment, you became a necessity to grip tight and I needed that hold to come from my soul, the sticking place. You welcomed me with open arms and a calm that soothed me. I am so glad our bond was fast. I definitely needed you. Who would have thought I’d end up needing a perfect stranger like the air that I breathe?
I’ve heard many things about you, but those things would be in whispers and sometimes I wouldn’t hear anything about you at all; it was more of a feeling that emanated behind tightly closed, disappointed lips. For many of us, we were introduced to you first as pressure—a clicking internal clock that would force doctors, or pretty much anyone in our lives and in our business to implore us, to figure out how to complete this seemingly necessary right of passage of womanhood: having a family.
It’s been quite the journey to get to you. And honestly, you’re not as bad as they make you out to be. The world had most of us over-30 women thinking that if we made you, we were in a space in our lives that sighed deeply in “oh well.” As if women like me have given up on fantasies of family when we choose you, but there’s no giving up when we make that peace. Peace is in your name; it’s in your nature. And choosing you isn’t a consolation prize or a concession, it is a must.
That Peace, you embody an unlearning that many of us women have clunkily lived through before understanding that you’ve always been an option. The world teaches us to aspire to create a family in a traditional way. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes all the women with baby carriages. What an antique! This heirloom isn’t precious; it’s a frustrating equation that just doesn’t add up to everyone’s ministry.
I thought that relic patterning was my ministry because my life plan most certainly included the husband and kids a couple of years after I graduated from college, relocated to New York (where I’d have this love story-worthy meet-cute with my future husband) and was kicking butt in my editorial or theatre career. In my head, heart, and spirit, it was all going to just come together that way. I was going to “have it all” without concessions. The math was going to “equate” for me, but it didn’t. And it still hasn’t.
And honestly, thank God. There are now more obvious and accessible options outside of the limited template for building a family. Women don’t need marriage to get us out of our parent’s homes anymore. We can choose other paths. And no matter how limiting this template has been, it still stretches through cultures and generations, making it a difficult mold to crack. That white picket fence with the husband, the wife, the 2.5 kids and the dog is tumbling down and getting overshadowed by the wide world of options that we now have to tailor-make our lives to fit our own templates.
After having to actually live through my graduation, my relocation to New York (it was really New Jersey that first year) and several fruitless meet-cutes, I chose to shift that fairy tale in my head and start writing my own. Life has funny (and most times, not-so-funny) ways of showing you that there’s more.
I’ve always wanted kids—when I was a kid; I would get giddy over the fantasy, giggling at the ideas of their names, their father, the beautiful life we would build together. But when I found out that I was with child, I knew immediately that I didn’t want to be. At my big age, that kind of information wasn’t exciting, nor pleasant and immediately my gut said, “no.” And that was the decision I stuck with. It wasn’t a simple decision, but it was a decision that supported me.
The unspoken expectation that every young woman is supposed to aspire to marriage and children is a scam. A woman’s life should not be dictated or prodded along in a way that would force us into anything that we don’t actually want for ourselves. It was you, “That Peace,” who has made this interruption and cultural pivot possible.
It’s not about making peace with myself, my uterus, or society’s rickety standards. It’s more about the peace I’ve made with me—the woman I’ve built, tooth and nail, brick by brick, and still building. Building oneself with reckless abandon and laser focus can be experienced by many as being selfish or choosing not to grow up. While dodging those way-too-invasive questions about when I’m going to settle down and get married, or when the kids are coming, I was busy making that peace—meeting you face to face.
I am thankful for you, “that peace” because you’ve taught me that I am home enough; I am family enough. And if I so choose to change my mind and build a family, it will be my family, which brings me more of “that peace.”
With love and peaceful understanding,
The Family of Danielle Young