When YOU were 21 …

What were your plans and dreams at 21?  Are they different from the dreams you had at 31?  At 41?

Did you make any decisions at 21 that you would change if you could?

Did you want to have children when you were 21?

Would you change anything?

Image credit Beststuff.com

Image credit Beststuff.com

*     *     *

The daughter of a close friend of mine is 21 years old.  R will be having some medical procedures in the next several months that might impact her ability to have children in the future.  R does not want to have children.  Ever.

But R’s mom, has asked that R freeze some eggs, just in case.

Just in case R changes her mind.  Just in case R’s future spouse wants to have children.  Just in case humanity is threatened and we need every able-body to procreate.

OK, last one is mine.  But I think you will agree that with the way things are going, it could happen.

Would you please tell me your story in the comments? Or draft a post and link to it in the comments.

Here’s mine:

At 21, I was dating a man I was certain I would marry.  Erik and I would remain in Boston.  I had just started my first year of college (I’m a late bloomer) and planned to finish my degree within 4 years.  I would somehow get back into acting and singing.  And life would be good.  Up there in Boston.

I didn’t give a thought to having kids.  They were not anywhere in my conscious thought except for my fear of unintentionally creating one.

Looking back 36 years I can tell you that I was wrong about much of this.  Mostly, my life changed, and as it did, I changed my mind on most of it. 

Because Life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.  At least according to John Lennon.

Photo credit:  Trashthedressonline.com

Photo credit: Trashthedressonline.com

I ditched Erik.  I left Boston and moved to DC (with Erik), a place I’d never been to when I was 21.  I never finished college, which makes me a seriously late bloomer.  I did not get accidentally or intentionally pregnant; instead I struggled with infertility for several  years.  I was right about one thing:  life (in DC and the other places I’ve lived without Erik) has mostly been good.

Interestingly, at 25, when I had my drastic GI surgery, I still wasn’t terribly concerned about having kids.  After my surgery, something occurred to me:

“Will the surgery affect my ability to have kids?” I asked, during a checkup in my hospital room after the surgery.

“It shouldn’t.”  Dr. Herbert Hoover responded (yes, that was really his name.  It still cracks me up.)

“I’m not really all that worried,” I said.  “I’m not completely sure I’ll even get a date in the future!”

It was years later, when I’d started dating and then married John, that the idea of having kids became important.  To both of us.

It was not to be, and we happily adopted Jacob.

As an adoptive parent, I feel a little bit funny giving R advice.  Because I am glad I have the son I have, and I wouldn’t have him if I had, or had been able to, freeze some of my eggs.

So, nope, I don’t ever wish I had a different kid.  He is mine, and I love him and John loves him.  We always will.

We couldda done without the heartache of infertility though.

So, my bloggin’ buddies, what were your thoughts at 21 about having kids?  Did you change your mind or were you right at 21.  Are there other things you projected, at age 21, that would occur in your life that didn’t?

Please either tell me in the comments, or write a post and link back here.

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150 Comments

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150 responses to “When YOU were 21 …

  1. Pingback: When I was Twenty-One – QBG_Tilted Tiara

  2. Let’s just say that at 48, I’m finally starting to do some of the things I wanted to do when I was 21.
    :-)

  3. At age 21 I was just starting to climb the corporate ladder. I had already been a model, wooed by lawyers & doctors as “arm candy.” I was working in a real estate office, dating a man twice my age & enjoying my life fully. I was not “in love” but I was crushing on this distinguished gentleman I was dating. Children were not in my future, then or for years afterward. I was learning how to be successful, buying my first home, going back to university at night school. The day I suspected I was pregnant was the day my whole life changed. I became a parent in all aspects of my life & changed my whole life drastically. For most of her life, I was a single parent to my daughter but I don’t regret a single moment.

  4. Very thought provoking blog post, and some highly thought provoking comments. I will just say that for me, at age 21 I was not giving much thought at all to having kids.
    Incidentally, I did spend quite a few years in the DC area and sometimes still miss it, though not the snow (especially this year).

  5. R's mom

    To Elyse and R, I apologize. R, I didn’t/don’t remember our conversation about freezing eggs the same way, but I accept your memory of it. I don’t think I said Elyse opposed hormone therapy but that she had serious concerns about it, but if I did I wronged you both.

    I encouraged R to read this blog entry and should have let sleeping dogs lie and I apologize to you both for that.

  6. Pingback: When I Was 21 | Stuphblog

  7. I finished my degree in 4 years, stayed in Boston, had no kids (so far), did some acting and singing… I think I may be living out the life you had planned for yourself, Elyse :)
    All I know is that at 21 I had no long-term plans beyond staying in college till I get my degree.

  8. Amers

    Hey there, so I was just wondering if R gave any indication that he wanted advice from anyone?

    Also, I don’t mean to trivialize your experience in any way, I do want to suggest that comparing moving, the end of a romantic relationship, and GI surgery to someone coming out as trans* and making the decision to proceed with hormone therapy is extremely problematic.

    While I certainly don’t want to put word’s in R’s mouth, it is my belief that the pain of living with an assigned gender that does not accurately reflect what one knows to be true (w/r/t identity) is extremely difficult to conceptualize and is probably not something that people who have limited knowledge of or experience with ought to be commenting on. Perhaps you might do well to speak with some other individuals who have undergone the process of transitioning if this issue of fertility in trans* people is something that you find so personally concerning. Perhaps R will do the same and perhaps he will not but, as you’ve described the situation here, this does not appear to be anything you necessarily should concern yourself with.

    • I didn’t comment on the transgender issue, or include it in any way shape or form. One of the reasons is that I didn’t want this post to be about something of which I have limited knowledge. Hence I stayed away from the subject.

      Few if any 21-year olds voluntarily ask for advice, or listen to it when it is offered. So no, this was unsolicited.

      I do know something about how life changes, however. How my life changed. How my priorities morphed. I have seen the how the same thing — change — happens to others. The experiences of others can often help people open minded enough to listen. And while exactly what happened to me is not what will necessarily happen to others, the point of this post was to open a discussion.

      I opened a discussion pertaining to choices, roads taken and not taken. There are no commitments made on anybody’s part, except to open one’s mind. But I believe that unwillingness to think things through often begets poor choices.

      BTW, my GI surgery was not a minor thing. If I had NOT had surgery, I would have died. I was a very sick young woman. Very. Furthermore, it was pioneering surgery in its day wherein I was sliced vertically from sternum to pelvis and horizontally as well. My guts were ripped out, dissected, rearranged and reorganized and reattached. There were only two surgeons in the United States qualified/willing/fool-hearty enough to perform this operation — at Johns Hopkins and at the Mayo Clinic. The outcome’s success was extremely uncertain. At the time I could have had a different, relatively safe procedure. It would have left me with a colostomy bag for life — and I was willing to take the risk of the rare and dangerous procedure so that I would not, I felt, cut myself off from the promise of a full sexual future at the age of 24.

      It boils down to the fact that we are all the sum of our experiences. All of us. Some have more experience and try to help as we can. But advice offered doesn’t need to be taken; it doesn’t need to even be listened to (or read). Sometimes it is best rejected; other time it is good to listen and take it. But we all make our own choices.

      I have had a complicated life and learned many lessons. One of the reasons I blog is that it gives me a forum to offer my stories — my painful ones, my humorous ones, my loving ones.

      It is not assigned reading to anyone.

      • Amers

        Again, it was not my intent to trivialize any part of your life experience. I have no idea the amount of pain: physical, emotional, mental, etc. that GI surgery, especially in that context, might entail. I simply meant to suggest that the experiences you chose to share did not parallel the experience of transitioning; not that they were any less difficult, less painful, etc. just that they were different.

        I appreciate that no one is required to read your blog but I don’t think that makes it acceptable to use someone else’s experience (whether or not you explicitly articulate the details of that experience) as a means of discussion when said discussion is directed at or concerning a party that did not consent to be a part of it in the first place.

        Do you know the impact, if any, that the conversations you’ve started have had on R, on his life?

        Also, (while this may seem like semantics, I would posit that for most people in the trans* community it is not just semantics) it is potentially rude to refer to someone who identifies as male as “she,” “her,” or “daughter” unless said person has indicated that these are the pronouns that they prefer.

        • Amers, you sound like a really caring friend. I am glad R has you. That sounds trite but it is not meant to be. Friends who will go to the mat for you are rare and wonderful. R’s mother and I have been that sort of friend for 35 years.

          I know that you didn’t mean to trivialize my GI experiences. No more did I mean to trivialize R’s situation. Yet you did, just as I did. We were equally well meaning. I could think of you as an insensitive jerk or someone who said something insensitive but who didn’t mean to offend. I choose the latter. Almost all the time, in my life, in fact. There are enough people we meet throughout life that intend to hurt — I believe that I am happier not taking offense when none is meant until I determine that it IS meant. (Even then, I think about whether it is worth bothering about.) If you’re looking for hurt, you can always find it. There is no up-side to that.

          So, it is really important to separate well meaning people who don’t quite get it (and who, as I can attest from this experience, can act like insensitive jerks) from mean-spirited haters. People who mean well need to be educated. I have learned a lot in the last day or so. And I will tread more carefully in the future.

          But I strongly disagree with your statement that one cannot take lessons from someone else’s story. That’s why there have always been stories, and story tellers. Why they will always exist. A story it is not just exactly what happened to one person, but how the themes and lessons of one person’s story can be applied to someone else’s completely different situation. Nobody approaches any problem, any situation, any choice exactly the same way. Each person brings their own life experiences into the mix. And since no two are alike, approaches are bound to be different. So I don’t know about you, but I prefer to learn wherever and whenever I can. I can take a story and pick and choose what might be relevant to my life. To my choices.

          I am a writer. A storyteller. I take things from my life, from my experience and weave them into tales. Some of the folks who people my stories are real, but most are a mixture of characteristics of people I’ve known that are molded to meet the story. My intention is never to be intentionally mean (although I get pretty close when I write about the GOP, I will admit). I mix characteristics to further the story. And unless I am writing about myself, the people are anonymous.

          One last thing. Since I was NOT, intentionally not, bringing up the transgender issue, but I WAS bringing up the issue of future motherhood, R had to be referred to as a she and as a daughter. By definition, men cannot freeze their eggs. Had I broached the gender issue, I would have referred to R appropriately.

          I am truly sorry that I opened Pandora’s box, and that I caused R pain, which will cause her mother pain, too. It is entirely my fault, and that’s the direction to which all anger should be directed.

          If you would like to comment further here on the blog you are welcome to do so. If you really want to let me have it and don’t feel comfortable doing it in a public forum, or if you have suggestions for ways I might make amends, feel free to email me (fifty.four.and.a.half @ gmail.com — but obviously take out the spaces before and after the @ — when you leave them in your box is flooded with zillions of spam messages).

          • Paul

            Well, since this discussion has become a matter of public record, I would like to comment. From a view outside the discussion (and yes, so far none of the parties are disinterested), my opinion is that both (R/Amers and Elyse/MomR) have equally valid positions. Ultimately it is R’s choice and as such it will be the correct one for him.

            AS I’ve grown older (in my mid 50’s now) I have come to believe that I am a different person at different times in my life – different enough in beliefs and personality as to be considered separate individuals. And yet inextolerably linked such that each decision I make affects the choices my future selves enjoy. And decisions I don’t make also affect my future selves. As I result I have made a conscious choice to try and not limit the choices available to my future selves – even when it means making present choices that I do not currently agree with.

            I followed the link offered by thesinglecell in her comment above and she concluded her story with a statement on how she views her past self: “We’re friends, she and I. Soul mates. I am at once her mother and her daughter, the one who protects her and the one who has come after her.”

            I think that statement speaks profoundly to R’s perspective.

            • Thanks, Paul. I loved Single cell’s post. It was beautiful and true.

              But I will leave my comment at that because I am now afraid to comment on my own blog.

              • Paul

                Bwhahaha! **singing to the tune of ‘It’s my Party’ -‘It’s My Blog, and I’ll Comment if I Want To!’** You know as well as I do Elyse (together we have over a century of life experiences) that to avoid conflict means to settle for mediocrity.- a sure way to damn yourself to an eternity of nothingness. Ha! If that was your intention with this post, you failed miserably. Ha! Carry On!

              • Stop laughing at me, Paul. Right now. Deep breath.

                I don’t normally run away from controversies or conflict. I do try to negotiate my way out.

                But I didn’t mean to start this controversy. I wanted a thoughtful post that lots of people might learn from. I have hurt someone who I never meant to hurt, but that, of course, doesn’t erase the hurt.

                So I will posit controversies over politics, but I will try not to over people. Because I really don’t like hurting people. It doesn’t just hurt them, it hurts everybody.

              • Paul

                From my perspective Elyse, you did not pass judgement on anyone and what you did do was to offer a view of reality that would be difficult or impossible to recreate in anything but a blog environment. To offer that is not being judgemental, and no one should interpret it as such. When there is life changing decision to be made, collecting any and all information (whether it agrees with your position or not) is critical. You offered information, not an opinion (that I noticed), That is simply being considerate.

              • Thanks Paul. Really. That was precisely my intention, but it seems to have fallen away from that benign purpose.

          • R

            Part of the reason this blog post is so frustrating to me (besides how condescending it all comes off as) is that my mother and I had a lengthy discussion about freezing my eggs a month ago. We had both agreed that it wouldn’t be the right choice for me (or so I thought.)
            Freezing your eggs is very expensive. I don’t have that kind of money. I highly doubt someone in my family would fund an expensive procedure that I wasn’t interested in. Regardless of if I froze my eggs or not, my future hypothetical partner and I couldn’t produce children that were biologically ours. Egg + egg = omelet.
            It is very hard for me to not interpret this post as also implying that being transgender is something that I will regret- similar to a bad partner, or apparently not having kids. Gender identity isn’t something you can decide out of the blue, it is formed very early in life (and perhaps even in utero.) It is also hard for me not to have that reaction because in your recent conversation with my mother you were apparently very adamantly against me going on hormones. Yet you’ve also admitted to not being very knowledgeable regarding trans* issues.
            Regarding semantics (which I do think are very important,) I can’t be the subject of future motherhood because I would never be a mother because of my gender identity. Producing eggs is a great source of pain for me. I disagree that by definition men can’t freeze their eggs- cisgender men can’t, but transgender men can. I invite you to learn more about trans* issues and identities. I would be happy to answer any questions you have or direct you to some very informative articles online. I would recommend reading Sam Killermann’s articles (http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2011/11/breaking-through-the-binary-gender-explained-using-continuums/ .)
            I understand (or at least think I do) that this post was supposed to go in the direction of “what did you think your life would be like now, when you were 21?” If the post wasn’t really supposed to be about me then could you see how it was confusing for me that in several of your comments you said “I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make.”
            Now everyone is very upset: you, my mother, a person you assumed to be my friend, and myself. I appreciate the concern (though not the execution) you have for me and I’m glad my mother has you as a friend.

            • My concern about the hormone is real and very valid. I am here in a hospital infusion center having drugs pumped into my veins. Drugs that I knew the first time I received them could cause or promote cancers including melanoma. In the last month I have had two surgeries to remove a melanoma. Without the drugs, though, I can barely walk. Sitting is painful even on the softest seat. My body is attacking itself and eating holes between various parts of my body tunnels into my vagina and urethra and rectum. The pain was becoming unbearable. And so I gambled.

              My drugs are powerful, they have been around for years. Tested on thousands of people with my condition before they were approved by FDA and hundreds of thousands more since. The risks are known for the indications used for. That is how drugs are tested — on patients with the indication for which they are approved.

              I am not, as you said, adamantly opposed to the hormones. I AM concerned that they have not been thoroughly tested and hardly tested on women at all. (I am not slighting the trans issue with this statement, but at the moment, you are physiologically female and the effects of the drugs are still — although not completely, unknown or less well known).

              I work in the field of drug safety. Drugs can be wonderful things and they can destroy your body. Both are true. And both can be in the very same package like the ones I’m getting right now.

              I really did not mean to cause the heartache that I did. I did not mean to do anything but be thought provoking to you and to the people who read my blog.

              I’m sorry. Very.

  9. R

    This is R. No really. I wont provide my name but I will provide some context to this part of my life- that seems to somehow be okay to be up for debate on a blog.
    I am transgender. I identify as male and was assigned female at birth. I’ve identified as such since I was 3.
    I don’t have any interest in having biological kids. I wont go into what possible hereditary conditions my hypothetical offspring could inherit- but it isn’t pretty.
    I didn’t refuse the option of freezing my eggs, my mother never asked me to do it, she only asked if I was interested. If she really wanted me to I would grudgingly oblige.
    I also have PCOS which would make it very hard for me to conceive children, if I wanted too.
    As to whether or not my future wife wants children- I wouldn’t want to marry someone that wanted kids, should we both change our minds we could adopt. Our kids couldn’t be completely biological anyways- why not use her eggs for these hypothetical unwanted children?
    I also don’t have any interest in forking over the $6,500 – $15,000 (per one cycle) (http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/06/health/fertility-eggs-embryos-empowered-patient/) to freeze eggs that I wont have any use for.
    I understand that the point of this thread is trying to get the message across that you can’t predict the future and should keep your options open- I just wish I wasn’t used as the anecdote.

    • Somebody's Mother

      Dear R,

      Nobody means any disrespect. It’s just we all know because we’ve been 21 that it’s a time when we are sure of everything and don’t have the full picture yet. Your mom wants you to think about freezing eggs, so think about it. Probably, I’m guessing, she is afraid you are jumping the gun on other things too. People are never more sure of things than in their early 20s. It doesn’t last. You’re still on a course of self discovery, although it sounds like you’ve learned a bit about yourself already. I would imagine your Mom is in a bit of a question about who you are and she is. She thought she had a daughter and you tell her despite all evidence to the contrary she’s wrong. Who is she supposed to believe you or her lying eyes? Your generation seems more accepting of transgenders. The option to have sex change operations and take hormones wasn’t available until fairly recently and so if you felt you were the wrong sex, you had no options. Whatever you decide to do, love all the things you are, not just what confirms your maleness. Good luck.

      from,
      Somebody’s Mother Who Knew for Certain She Did not want to ruin her life with children ever when she was 21.

    • R,

      I apologize for offending you.

      This post was inspired by a talk I had with your mother. It was focused on options of all kinds. What we — she and I — were like at age 21, what our hopes and dreams were. Whether they were realized, changed, crushed. Whether we had any premonition at 21 what our lives would be like in our late 50s. Would we have made the same choices we did if we could do it all over again.

      We laughed at how different what we wanted at 21 was from what we wanted at 25, at 30, at 40, at (for me) 57. What we’d gotten right, what we missed by a mile.

      You were a very small part of that discussion – the part which revolved primarily around whether we ourselves wanted kids at 21. It seemed like a great blog subject. The readers of my blog seem to agree.

      I often put real conversations, real people, real things that happen into blog posts. I do so anonymously nearly always (except when I skewer a politician or am writing about myself). Partly that is so that my readers can relate my story to their own lives better. Partly I do that so that people I write about remain anonymous. Most prefer it that way. And it is usually a very small snippet of them anyway.

      Interestingly, in response to one part of what you said, I too had/have serious health issue that I would not want to have passed on to a child. But when I was married, and happy and wanted children, I didn’t care any more. Love does that to many people. I found that I was glad to be alive, my shitty health notwithstanding, and that my biological child/children would, I presumed, feel that way too. So I frankly stopped focusing on the bad things I could/would give them and focused on the loving family I would give them.

      Now for the big-ticket item. Trans-gender.

      Obviously I intentionally left that out. There are a bunch of reasons, some conscious, some probably subconscious. Some I probably haven’t even thought of.

      1. It was, frankly, immaterial to the questions I posed in the blog, which were:
      – What were your plans and dreams at 21? Are they different from the dreams you had at 31? At 41?
      – Did you make any decisions at 21 that you would change if you could?
      – Did you want to have children when you were 21?
      – Would you change anything?
      2. If I had mentioned that you were transgender, the post would then have become a magnet for debate, discussion on the issue of transgender which I am in no way shape or form the best person or even a good person to monitor. The question was how did you feel about having children at the age of 21 – not what do you think about transgender people or people making that transformation.

      3. Blog trolls peruse blogs looking for topics on which they can spew their hatred. I don’t put up with such shit, but it raises my blood-pressure and it pisses me off. I have no intention to open myself — or anonymous people mentioned in my post — up to that abuse but I would have had to because I do not like people picking on others for any reason and I won’t let them do it on my blog.

      4. There are a lot of times I get up on my soapbox on this blog. I generally write about things I know about, which helps me help people to understand my opinions. I am pretty good at taking serious subjects and satirizing it, which I believe, makes people think. The issues I care about most are guns, politics, healthcare, good government, science, and I often write about them. I sometimes sound like a crusader. There are a whole lot of issues I am interested in and care about, including LGBT issues, that I don’t write about. I leave those issues to folks who know more about them.

      Again, I apologize for offending you. That was not the intention.

  10. When I was 21, having children was the furthest thought from my mind. My first child was born a decade later. Like you, I want to keep identities private and though I have much to say about parenting, I would not do so publicly. Perhaps I will write a private journal to my children one day and leave it for them to read after I’m gone. I have so many questions about my parents’ thoughts on raising children, which I will never be able to ask. It would a nice legacy, don’t you think?

    My advice to R would be this: Regardless of what you decide, write down your thoughts because someday you may forget the reasons behind your choice. We all have remorse for the path we took since we’ll never know what would have been different. The result is grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side syndrome. When that happens, you can look back on what you wrote and understand that it was the best choice at that time. There is no right or wrong.

  11. Pingback: 21 To Life | thesinglecell

  12. I love your story (of course I do because you adopted). I love your questions also, I think I will put up a post and link back to you.

  13. I always wanted kids. I mothered anything that moved :) Thankfully at 23, I got my first of my 2 luscious boys … my first true love, more here

    http://emjayandthem.com/2014/02/12/my-first-true-love/

    Wonderful post and great questions … and 2nd boy came in another marriage 7 1/2 years later ….!
    MJ

  14. Elyse – Wow, your questions opened up a lot of discussion. I’m saving my answers for a post or something later on. It’s far too long to post as a comment. Great post, great discussion you’ve started.

  15. Like others, I’m glad I don’t have to do 21 over. And of course, I didn’t want to listen to others, I wanted to make my own mistakes. Thanks for sharing your dreams and helping us hold onto ours.

    • You know, that would be a great sequel to GroundHog Day — reliving age 21~

      It is so true what you say. At that age you do know everything. And nothing is going to change. It never does, right?

  16. I really liked your story, Elyse. Feels very heartwarming that you adopted a child, that you have a child. That you are parents. It’s funny, you always make me feel good about humanity.

    My regrets… sticking to a ridiculous technical field when all I wanted to do was write. I’m glad I never gave up on the latter. It may lead no where, but at least I still have it.

    • Keeping your dreams? Good idea. I dreamed of being an actress,but, alas, that died (in a broom closet). Still, dreams change, morph, evolve. You are a gifted writer, glad yours is still there and that you’re still working on it.

      Me, I’m in it for the money. Big bucks in blogging.

      • You make me laugh, Elyse. Is there a post that describes why you didn’t morph into an actress? What happened in the broom closet? I read the Oscars post but that doesn’t seem to be it.

        Big bucks in blogging… yeah this is the virtual brick road to fame and glory all right.

    • OH, and my son? He is not a little boy any more. He is a 22 year old Man -cub. The light of my life when I don’t want to throttle him!

  17. Dan

    At 21, definitely not. I was too busy trying to be Dan. How could I also incorporate being Dad too. At 36, I found myself thinking, “I’ll never know what it feels like to be father.” That was all the urging my wife needed. She had been waiting. We worked so hard at it. She is really Fertile Myrtle, but it took a about 3 months of timed and laborious sex to get there. Who would have thought sex could become a chore to two relatively young people?

    Wanna have sex. Now? Really? Well, you do want a baby don’t you? Yeah. (sigh). Okay, let’s go. We only have a few optimal days. And we can try again this evening. (sigh) It was worth it.

    One day I held him in my arms for about 2 hours while he napped. My wife was ready to beat me when she found out. Now he’d never nap in his crib was her fear. I remember handing him bare-butted to his still childless godfather and telling him to hold him on his shoulder and cup his little butt in his hand while holding his little fuzzy, bare back in the other. He did, but didn’t get it. Perhaps that’s why he’s still childless after nearly 30 years. He couldn’t grasp how precious that life was. I wasn’t upset with him though, just sad because only a year earlier I wouldn’t have got it either. To know love at the truest depth possible, you have to be responsible for the life of someone who is reliant on you for their well-being through no desire or fault of their own. You have created that dependency. A lot of people think they do that with a pet, but you can discard the pet if the burden becomes difficult or be assured the cat, dog, horse or whatever will only live a decade of two and then you are free of the obligation. Don’t ever call your pets your children. They may be dependent upon you, but you are not obliged to them. You always have a “humane” out. With children, I can think of no out that is not either abusive or the result of abuse.

    • Wow, Dan. What a heart-felt comment. Beautiful.

      As I keep saying, this post was to just provide a forum. I am trying to shut up. To not comment. I am not doing well.

      That said, this was a beautiful comment. Thank you.

  18. Luanne

    Very interesting post. If you decide you want to post the infertility and adoption portion with a photo of your family, I’d be happy to re-post your story on our adoption blog. Just sayin’ we’re interested.

  19. It was a very good year for city girls/Who lived up the stair/With all that perfumed hair/And it came undone/When I was twenty-one….
    I’m not sure I was sober enough that year to even think about having kids. If I had to guess I would say I am sure I did want them…far into the future…I am a child of ‘have a career, there’s plenty of times to have kids” which is the subject of a whole different post. But I tend to agree with your friend, why not freeze them in case she changes her mind. 21 is still very young…..

    • Dina, you loose woman you. Letting down all that hair! Thanks for commenting. I agree about leaving open options. Because you never can tell when survival of the species might just depend on one freezer!

      That being said, I am trying to not comment on the answers I get (I’m not doing all that well, though). I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

      Thanks for adding yours.

  20. Ah 21, only….what?….5 days ago…haha! Yup, I just celebrated my 22nd birthday. (: My thoughts on children? Someday, but I am content with where I am right now and know that when and if the time is right, God will bless me with children. My human side, though, wants two to three….the typical older boy, and younger girl scenario. We shall see what happens in the next few years. (:

    • Happy Birthday, Shannon!

      So the question is in the future to you. If you were going to have a medical procedure in the near future that might impair your ability, would you freeze some eggs?

      • Thank you!! (:

        Hmm, that’s a tough one. I think that if a procedure was needed that would impair my ability, I would take it as is because I believe that God has a plan for me, and if that were in His plan, He’d have someone or something else in store for me, such as adoption. I have a friend that has a severe bleeding condition in which she has to take so much medication to control the bleeding. If she goes off of it, she will bleed continually. Her chances, then, of becoming pregnant are slim. We talked about it, and think that adoption would be the way to go. I am not against freezing eggs; I’m just not sure if that is what I would do. I already have thought of adopting in the future, in addition to having my own children one day. We will see, though, what happens.

  21. Eva

    I had no idea who I was at 21. I clubbed, smoked cigarettes, drank socially, and wrote a lot. My young life then was turbulent but even through all of that, I still wanted to be a mom. Funny. Our little one is sitting next to me and, of course, there’s no way I would change my path that led me up to Syd.

    Not growing up with a mom made me the best mom to her. That’s everything.

    • That’s how I feel about Jacob. It was heart-wrenching having infertility issues, but there was a wonderful bonus at the end of it.

      As I keep saying, I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

      Thanks for adding yours.

  22. Roxie

    I’m getting close to 40 , but I’m still too much of a kid (in my mind) to even consider having a kid.

    • As I keep saying, I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

      Thanks for adding yours.

  23. I never was good at planning… I should have started a blog back then.

  24. My answer below is in no way me being flippant, or snarky or cracking wise:
    At 21, I really didn’t think I’d be alive to see 31. It was a serious possibility based on how I was living, and how I was treating myself.
    I’m not saying I wasn’t having a good time. I’m just saying I thought it would result in an inevitable demise.

    Now, I occasionally wish I had kids, but I think more often than not, I’m glad I don’t.
    (That attitude may change when I need some one to change my diapers if I live that long.)

    • I for one am glad that your demise was put off, at least a while, Guap!

      As I keep saying, I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

      Thanks for adding yours.

  25. I don’ think there was ever a time in my life when I didn’t want to have children so it is a difficult mindset for me to consider. Having said that, I do think that 21 is a very young age to make such a final decision. So much can happen to change one’s perspective. Like 99’s comment I can tell you that my children are the single most amazing things I have done with my life. They have taught me so many things about myself, brought me so much joy & I can’t imagine a life without them in it. Unless there was danger involved for this young person in regards to them choosing this option out of necessity for health reasons, my advice would be to keep that door open, just in case life were to change & take a different path.

    • Thanks, Lynn — Your comment was off in the nether regions. I nearly missed it! But here I am.

      Thank you for your point of view. As I keep saying, I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. (And failing miserably). I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

  26. Well when I was twenty-one I think I was way behind you. I was working for a minimum wage and living on chips in a one room flat which rats would have avoided if they came across it. By 30 I was in my own business and living a very different life. I love life, and all its adventures, but as to plans, as John Lennon says, roughly, something else often happens

  27. Clinton

    I’m probably not the right person to answer your question. Given the lack of wisdom, thought, or caring that my parents applied to their child-rearing philosophy — augmented my resulting lack of sanity and self-regard — no one (including myself) would recommend me as a parent.

    • But you are a wonderful thoughtful Dad. And while I can only guess at the parental abilities of my virtual friends, I know the products of yours. You have two wonderful girls who have been loved, nurtured and supported right from the start.

      You broke the pattern

  28. Twindaddy

    I will end up writing my own post about this, but a lot happened when I was 21.

  29. At 21 I totally expected to be a mother, although probably an awkward one. I prefer kids when they are older. Babies terrify me. As fate would have it, I wasn’t in the right relationship during my “fertile” years. I absolutely enjoy my niece’s kids and that’s ok with me. In my early 60s I married a man with 4 grown children and I have 2 step-grandchildren age 8. Unfortunately they all live on the other side of the country but I enjoy them when we get to see them. Although it wasn’t a conscious decision not to have children, I don’t miss them. I have had a full life and have no regrets about anything even some of the totally stupid things I did. In the end, it all guided me to where I am today.

    • Thanks, Kate. I think that is the best way to look at life, actually. Not that we have much choice in what happens to us, so many times!

      As I keep saying, I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

      Thanks for adding yours.

  30. Pingback: Becoming Mom | She's a Maineiac

  31. I didn’t give it much thought at all. I was in college, busy being cool and having fun and planning the glamorous adventure that was sure to be my life, shared with the faceless guy in the tux from the Mystery Date game.

    Even when we decided to have kids it was more a “Are we ready?” “I don’t know, do you think we’re ready?” “I guess so.”

    Wouldn’t have missed the parental roller-coaster for the world.

    • Wait, Peg — you’re still ON the parental roller coaster. It lasts forever, regardless of what happens.

      Thanks for your story. I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

      • Great idea. I wouldn’t take the egg-freezing option if it were me. If I wanted children in the future, there are many, many who would love a caring home.

        • Absolutely true. I HAVE one of those! But I think keeping options open is such a good idea. You may not care, but your spouse/partner might. I’ve known people who have divorced because one of the partners couldn’t conceive and the other wanted their own biological child. So you never can tell.

          • So true. We never know what the future holds. Also, although we can never get 21-year-olds to understand, those of us who have been 21 and then some other age more than 10 years older, know that we are not the same people. That’s very young to permanently close options.

            Way to get the dialogue going on this, Elyse!

  32. When I was 21 all I wanted was to have kids. I never wanted a husband, a career or any of that other stuff. I was briefly married (6 months) in an attempt to start a family. When he decided maybe someday we would have one I left. When I was 35 and still had no children and no man in my life I started preparing to make a baby by artificial means. One of my best friends agreed to be a donor and I was in the best health and shape in my life. The year I was to have a baby was the year I got cancer. After my surgeries, radiation, and chemo I was left unable to have children. The John Lennon quote is good but I tend to also use this one. “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” I’m not sure at that time I would have even thought of freezing my eggs at 21 or even 31, or even just before undergoing my cancer treatment. It is more common now. Well, maybe not common, but at least it is on people’s radar. Perhaps things would have been different. Perhaps they wouldn’t. It certainly would have been nice to have options.

    • Freezing eggs is much more common now — I don’t think that it was an option for me then, either. But then they didn’t know that the surgery might mess me up then, either. C’est la vie.

      Options are good.

      Thanks, Michelle, for your story. I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

  33. I wrote some about my personal transition on the matter of my kids early in my blog life: http://cookieschronicles.blogspot.com/2011/08/guest-blogger-deborah-of-monster-in.html. Revisiting it now in light of your post and questions, with another little one on the way, my gladness that life did not go according to plan is redoubled. At 21, I meant to travel the world and become a super successful (if not necessarily wealthy) lawyer/advocate, sans kids. At 35, I can–and do!–look back on living in South Korea and Japan with a trip to England and the intention to travel more ahead and find myself so glad that my life did not travel the path I planned. Kids have been the biggest, best part of that. Even the strongest lack of desire now can change course. It doesn’t always, but in case it does . . . it would be better to be prepared than wistful.

    • Thanks, Deb.

      I keep cutting and pasting this response, but I AM reading the comments.

      I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

  34. Snoring Dog Studio

    I knew then, as I knew all of my life, that I didn’t want children. One of my brothers was horrified at that. I got married and all of a sudden, in my mid-40s, my husband decided he wanted children. He wanted them, but he didn’t want to start raising them until they got to about 10 or 11. Fortunately, the marriage continued to implode and I never made the enormous mistake of having children for him. Some of us women just know. We just know it’s not for us.

    • Thanks SDS.

      I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

  35. As a child of divorce and a not so great re-marriage, at 21, I was not at all inclined toward children. I wanted dogs not kids. But by the time I was 27 and married, I was slowly changing. Many of my friends had kids and I, a little bit, wanted them, enough to try. We wound up having serious fertility issues. It took me 2 years to have my first son and a lot of intervention to get the next two. my kids have changed my world. and i would say, that at 21 I had no idea who I would be in 10 years. I’d suggest you leave your options open. The choice is still always yours.

  36. When I was 21, I was out west at college and it was the year my dad died. I was not thinking about having kids at all. I was alone, had no boyfriend to speak of. I did have two cats (haha!) and they were all I thought I needed. Truly, in my mind I was destined to be a loner and I was fine with it. I lived alone for the better part of my 20s and was perfectly content.

    But I had always thought I’d make a good mom, and people kept telling me this. By fate I met Jim and immediately flipped my mindset to “I want kids!” We tried for two years and was considering other options when I got pregnant by some miracle (I had many surgeries at that point and only one diseased ovary) I still can’t believe I’m a mom of TWO kids now! Of course, they are my world. I look back at the 21 year old and I am amazed at how quickly my life changed after I met my husband.

    So yes, you just never know what cards fate will deal you, anything can happen.

    I might have to write a post about this now.

  37. I don’t remember how old I was, but I went through a phase where I didn’t think I wanted kids (likely in my early 20s). But later I wanted them with a passion. Every Disney movie I saw set off a pang. Given I waited to have children until after my training years, I felt this angst quite often. :)

    • Thanks, Carrie.

      I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

  38. I was never a big planner. I just let the wind blow me wherever it may. That’s much to my detriment. The thing I’d change now? I’d have a little more foresight. Made some plans. Had a few dreams so they could have been dashed against the rocks. That’s better than no dreams at all?

    • Thanks, Mark. (It is Mark, right? I am terrible with names! Which means that it is Mark from now on whether or not that is actually your name. Yes, I really am that bad. I would have millions of friends right now except for this name thing. Oh and I forget. What were we talking about?

      Thanks for your comment!

  39. I don’t think I gave it any thought at 21. What I do know, though, is that there are THOUSANDS of children in foster care in this country who are waiting to be adopted by a loving family. There’s much more to “family” than genetics.

    • That’s true, Lisa, and as an adoptive mother I agree. But I always worry about cutting off options. Not because new and different and possibly better ones don’t materialize, but because you leave yourself with one less choice. And if eggs are frozen they don’t have to be used. It is a no-harm no foul situation IMHO.

      Here is my stock response to comments on this post (although I did just violate it. But hell, it’s my blog)
      thank you for your story. I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

      • just read your response to BSC, where you talk about options … I swear my addendum about options was something that was burning in my head when I woke up today, and I felt obligated to add it to my comment … but I wasn’t copying you … promise.

        I believe in options, which, in this case, means exactly that. An option. Not a commitment, and not a contract to act on the option. It just represents an available option, a bridge unburned. I like options.

  40. 1jaded1

    I’ve never wanted to have children. I feel that I would probably damage them in some way. They don’t deserve that.

    • Hugs to you Jaded. I wanted to give you one yesterday when you posted.

      Here is what I am saying, more or less, to everyone who comments: Thank you for your story. I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

      But you might want to read NTexas99’s comment. Because you never know.

  41. 21, no. 30 YES. I had the chance to leave the cesspool that is my native Great Britain for ever BUT didn’t because of my now ex-wife.
    Huge mistake, Megger!

  42. Yes, everything changed. At 21, there was zero doubt in my mind that I never, ever, ever, EVER wanted to have kids (because I believed I could never be a good mother, and I believed there was no way the next generation could avoid perpetuating the cycle of abuse, and because I was too busy doing drugs and having sex and generally floating through life with no particular direction). Kids were not even a remote option. No chance in hell. I even asked (several) doctors to perform a hysterectomy, but all of them refused because I was “too young to make that decision”.

    Which does nothing to help explain why, at the age of 22, that I ended up married to a kind and gentle man, had turned my life around and got clean, and started participating in therapy to try to overcome the affects of the abuse. During that time, I came to the realization that I wanted a child more than just about anything else in the world. My husband had a child by a previous marriage that did not live with him, and he was also eager to begin a new family. We experienced three miscarriages, and two still-birth pregnancies, and the last pregnancy nearly took my life. So, at 24 (nearly 25), my doctors insisted I get a hysterectomy. The very thing I spent years asking for, I now refused to have. Against doctor’s advice, I got pregnant again, and my husband and I ended up having a healthy son (after being referred to a problem pregnancy specialist who only agreed to “continue the pregnancy” if I agreed to have a tubal ligation after the birth, because he was convinced that any future pregnancies would be risking my life).

    So, yes, everything changed, and yes, I changed my mind. At 21, I couldn’t imagine that there would ever be a day that I would want to become a mother. Now, of course, I can only say that being someone’s mother is probably the most important thing I’ve ever done with my life, and it has certainly brought me the most joy and love. I was fortunate that we ended up with a bonus kid along the way, because the same day we brought our infant son home from the hospital, we also got custody of my husband’s son from his previous marriage, so we raised two boys, ten years apart. Being their mom has been such a privilege. I can’t imagine a life without them, and I can guarantee you that the 21 year old me would never have been able to believe that could be true.

    If someone had suggested “freeze your eggs just in case” I doubt I would have listened to them, but had I been able to talk some doctor into doing the hysterectomy, I’m pretty sure I would have lived to regret it, even though it would have been likely that I would have chosen adoption, if that were the case. In other words, even though at 21 there was no way I could see kids in my future, within just a few years, I couldn’t imagine my life WITHOUT children. I’ve known some people who never wanted to have children (and didn’t), and I’ve known some people that didn’t want to have kids (and did), and I’ve known some people that wanted kids desperately and couldn’t have kids. Some, like you, chose adoption. Others, well, they just kept trying, using every available method available under modern medicine, because they were intent on having a “natural” child. One couple, in particular, spent thousands on fertility treatments, and never conceived, and didn’t give up on the dream until late in their forties.

    I’ve known of a few rare instances where someone that is 21 has a good idea of where they want their life to go, and it actually works out that way, but as we know, life takes many twists and turns that we could never imagine, and it’s much more likely that what you think you want at 21 is going to be completely different, even just a few more years down the road. Speaking for myself, at 21, it could be said that I had barely begun to evolve into the person I would become. Today, at 56, I’m just glad that my 21 year-old self didn’t get in the way of me becoming a mother.

    Yes, I know this is too long for a comment, and should really be a blog post on my own blog, but you know me well enough by now to expect that there will be times that I have too much to say. Short answer? Everything changed. Everything. At 21, I just didn’t know. Couldn’t see it.

    • 99, you are amazing. But feel free to copy and paste all of this into a post of your own. I promise not to tell!

      BUT, for purposes of this post (and social experiment), I will just thank you for your story. I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

      • totally understand the social experiment part of the equation, even though I know it has to be hard not to expand your own personal commentary about the comments and stories being shared

        There is (at least) one other thing that I wish I had added to my own story, which isn’t about my story at all, but rather, has to do with personal opinion about the subject at hand. Please consider this as an addendum to my first comment. The idea of freezing her eggs, even though she doesn’t presently believe she will ever want children of her own, allows for something which life does not always permit: options. There are many times and many situations in life where our options are extremely limited or non-existent, despite our most heartfelt desires, so if freezing her eggs does nothing else, it would at least allow for the option of having children in the future. It doesn’t obligate her to have children, it just allows for the option. It isn’t a contract to plan for children in her future, it simply provides the genetic possibility. It leaves her options open.

        Sorry, I know you asked for personal stories, and not necessarily personal opinion. Your question was rolling around in my head last night after I left my comment, and I woke up today wishing I had added the bit about options. If I had done what my 21 year old self had believed about my future, then I’m absolutely certain I would have lived to regret it (about sterilization because I was so sure I didn’t want children). I’m not trying to say that everyone eventually wants children, because some don’t, and prefer that choice and can be content in their lives without children. I’m just saying that thankfully, my options were still open. My 21 year old self was so incredibly sure at the time, but I was simply incapable then of knowing how much can change.

        Another example might be my son, who at 21 was certain he would never want to be married. He was a very unlikely candidate for marriage. Too free-spirited and independent, and leery of permanent commitments. He moved through life like the proverbial rolling stone, choosing many different directions, and always in motion. Then, of course, when he least expected it to happen, he crossed paths with that person that changed everything, and they’ve been married for about eight years now. Before he got married, I quizzed him … hard … about his choice to be with her, because she had a child by a previous marriage. Because there was a child involved in the equation, I didn’t want him to step into something without the intention of seeing it through to the end. I finally quit grilling him every day when he told me, in one of our conversations, something along the lines of, “Mom, you just don’t get it. My life isn’t about ME. It’s about being with HER.” I’m happy to say the rolling stone found his place to rest, and by proxy, he learned how to become a parent to her son. I can’t speak for him, (because he’s always been more than capable of speaking for himself), but from my perspective, his 21 year old self could never have anticipated that life would allow such a beautiful love to be part of his life. They still make goo-goo eyes at each other, and hold hands, and giggle like happy children. His 21 year old self could not have seen that one coming.

        I remember, (vaguely … LOL), that at 21 years of age, I felt that I had passed into the vast land of being an adult, and I was so sure of the choices I was making. I had confidence in my choices. I was finally free to do my own choosing, and I took advantage of that privilege. But truthfully, the one thing I couldn’t possibly be aware of at that time, because not enough years had passed me by, was how much we evolve over time, and how much our futures are affected by the choices we make as we are moving into adult territory. As for me, I like options. Lots of options. Because at 56, I’ve learned that options are a treasured commodity. There will be many times in life that your options dwindle. Keeping your options open (and your bridges unburned) is something that might one day make a big difference in your life.

        Sorry, again, for rambling, but I woke up today thinking about options. And how important it is to preserve our ability to have them available to us. Because things change. One thing for sure is that change will happen. Big changes, small changes, and changes we can’t imagine.

  43. Paul

    Yikes! At 21 I had just incorporated my first company and was travelling North America. Kids were not even on the horizon. At 31 I met a woman who had two children from a previous marriage (ages 3 and 5) and we settled down. Ooh, yeah, at 42 I went back to school, and did a Master’s degree.) We were together for about 12 years until we went our own ways. never had any kids of my own and likely won’t now.

    • Hi Paul, and welcome.

      Thank you for your story. I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

  44. I thought I might have kids when I was 21. I was dating my ex who went to Harvard Law School and became a successful attorney, but after we were married and moved to Florida, I made a conscious choice not to have children with him. Life was too crazy two blocks from his (literally insane, controlling, manipulative) mother. I like to say that I wasn’t smart enough to not be with him, but I was smart enough not to have kids with him!

    Still it all turned out well. I’m now married to a wonderful man living in a great town and nurturing people in my work – physical therapy!

    • Cathy, that’s a funny coincidence. I worked at HLS from 1976-79 — did we overlap there? The Erik mentioned in this piece was a student there (as was my husband but we “met” later). I knew a zillion students, although I remember few names now. I don’t recall any from/who returned to Florida, though.

      You can email me through my contact me page (when I post the email I get tons of spam) if you’d like to fess up!

      As for your comment, thank you for your story. I am trying to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make. But I’m trying to provide an anonymous venue for different perspectives.

  45. At 21 I knew I didn’t want kids, ever. And I was right. It ended up I couldn’t anyway, but it really didn’t bother me. I am much older now and now I still know not having kids for me was the best thing. Good post.

    • Thank you for your story. I am going to try to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make.

      Thank you, Jackie for your perspective. I am hoping to show R all sides, all decisions.

  46. I never thought I was going to have kids, at age 21, because of messages I got from doctors of the unlikeliness of that, due to my congenital heart condition. Also, I never responded to babies the way other women my age seemed to, so the thought of not having kids didn’t really bother me. At age 40, after we’d been married for five years, my then-husband and I decided to stop using birth control and to “see what would happen.” We were both pretty ambivalent about kids, though; we didn’t do anything “special” to try to help the process along. We just left it up to fate. At age 43 I got pregnant, but miscarried really early. I felt sad about that, but, still, we didn’t do anything to increase our fertility. Then, my father died (on 3/21/97), when I was 44. That was a big loss. Three months later, my husband and I were visiting some old friends in California. I remember looking my friends’ beautiful little kids and consciously saying “goodbye” to the possibility of being a mother. I felt my time had passed. I had a good cry and left it at that. A month later, I found out I was pregnant. We had our only child when I was 45. The father and I are now divorced, and my 16 year old son is the pride of my life.

    • I see that the anniversary of your father ‘a passing is tomorrow (maybe today where ever you are)

      Thank you for your story. I am going to try to not comment on the answers I get. I just wanted to offer a anonymous forum for R. Obviously the decision is R’s to make.

      But thank you.

    • I didn’t finish my comment about your Dad’s passing. (Never, never, never comment on serious things on an iPhone)

      My heart goes out to you — they’re always hard, those anniversaries. May you pass it with a smile on your face thinking about him.

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