“My wonder has always been, having it all – at what cost?”

Liz, 43, USA

As modern women, we push ourselves to have it all, a fulfilling and rewarding career, a romantic and satisfying love life with our partners, a full social calendar of outings with friends, interesting hobbies that serve as outlets from the daily grind, then of course, an army of little ones. My wonder has always been, having it all – at what cost?

I settled into a serious relationship at 30 with a very Type A, goal oriented partner. He was handsome, smart, successful, seemingly the ideal guy. I knew he wanted to be married, have the two adorable children, plus dog to make our future holiday card photos perfectly complete. I loved him and could see myself spending the rest of my life with him, so why wouldn’t I even allow myself to romanticize about marriage and children? Overall, I chalked it up with my parents rocky marriage and bitter divorce, but deep down, I knew not all the responsibility could be placed upon them.

Over time and a move to Washington, DC, I didn’t fit in with my relationship anymore. I wondered if I had chosen the guy that society would approve me being with rather than someone who truly complimented me and the life that I wanted. I also realized I still hadn’t found what I was looking for in life overall. My fear of getting married and having kids was that I hadn’t lived enough life for me before devoting myself so completely to a family. I still was trying to find that perfect career, travel places I hadn’t been and continue exploring new areas of passion. Then, I wanted to find a partner that would support me in all of that.

The rest of my thirties were me exploring love and life and it was the largest period of emotional growth in my life. I travelled throughout the world. I took up cycling and dedicated myself to non-profit work in the arts. Most importantly, I chose romantic relationships that allowed me to stay true to myself without considering anyone else’s approval rating.

I loved having the continued freedom of being able to do what I wanted when I wanted and being able to explore new things that excited me. I realized that it wouldn’t be fair to have children living life as I do. I’m not someone who could stay at home all day nurturing children full-time and not fully living the other areas of life. And I won’t bring children into the world and live life as I do while a nanny does my parenting.