Dear Annie: How does one know whether she wants children? For my whole life, I haven't been sure, but I figured I'd know eventually. Now I'm in my late 20s and not any closer to making up my mind.
I'm afraid I'd regret it if I didn't have kids, but I've never particularly wanted them, either. Don't get me wrong; I am sure that if I did have them, I would love them more than anything — but that also scares me, because it would mean focusing less on my career. And honestly, when I try to imagine the future, my career is the first thing that comes to mind. I have plans to start my own business within the next five years. My work excites me and fulfills me. I also love my current lifestyle — taking spontaneous trips and trying new hobbies.
I'm not even in a serious relationship right now, so it's not as though I'd be settling down and having children soon. But if it's something I want to do, I feel that I at least need to start moving my life toward that direction. I'm realizing how quickly time passes once you're in the working world, and my 30s will be here before I know it. How does one know whether she wants to be a mom? — Undecided in Ohio
Dear Undecided: You are a very wise and thoughtful woman. Children are a huge responsibility. They rely on you for their very existence. So putting your career ahead of them is not an option. If you are truly undecided about having children right now, I would say wait and see. When that serious relationship comes along, you'll see what your partner wants out of life. If you find a partner who is very nurturing and really wants kids, then he might take on the majority of responsibility so that you can continue to focus on your career. If you find a partner who feels the way you do, then the two of you might find a very fulfilling life in other ways, with extended family, friends, career, travel or volunteering.
There is no right or wrong answer. What is not right for you now may be right for you in five years. And if it's not right in five years, then you will find other enjoyments. The point is that you don't have to have it all mapped out perfectly. Some of the most interesting people took their time in figuring out exactly what they wanted from life. Regardless of whether you have children, it sounds as if you will have a very fulfilling life because of your thoughtfulness in the pursuit of happiness.
Dear Annie: I was mistreated at my husband's funeral. People walked by as if I didn't exist. I was mistreated by his son, my stepson. I loved my husband very much, and I won't get married again. I had a good man, and nobody could take his place. How does one deal with life when she has lost her husband? — Angel in Illinois
Dear Angel: I am so sorry for your loss. And I am sorry you're feeling so alone in your time of grief. There's no easy answer, but reaching out to others — as you have done in writing to me — can help, even if you don't quite feel like it. Look to friends, grief counselors and spiritual advisers for support, as well as organizations such as Soaring Spirits International. Its website says, "Widowed people created Soaring Spirits because we discovered that connecting with other widowed people made the challenges of surviving a spouse or partner a little easier to manage." Visit https://www.soaringspirits.org or call 877-671-4071 for more information.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]