Plan Mildred

I’ve been thinking of working on a Plan C.

This is how I thought this would all go, in my charming naivete.

Plan A: Get married, easily have 2-3 children. Raise them to become functioning members of society. Retire some place without snow.

When that proved difficult, I arranged for a Plan B.

Plan B: Get married, undergo fertility treatments. Feel fortunate to have one child. Raise said child in the most dazzling display of helicopter parenting this world has ever seen. Retire some place without snow.

Now I’ve come to realize that I need to start self-socializing the idea of  Plan C. Let’s be honest, it’s entirely possible that all the advanced reproductive technologies in the world may not actually work for me. Sad fact, but a real one nonetheless.

Plan C rolls out in a number of ways, depending on my mood. Up until recently, Plan C has looked like this.

Get married. Try and fail to have a child. Die alone in a shanty.

At this point, I mentally cue up Bridget Jones’ Diary. “I will die alone, and be found three weeks later, half-eaten by wild dogs.”

The trouble is, that doesn’t really work for me. No matter how morose I get, I honestly can’t see that as a realistic option. Thank you, Saddy McSadderson, but I will take a pass on getting eaten by dogs.

So what’s left then? I’m thinking Plan Mildred.

I had an awesome Great Aunt Mildred. My grandmother’s sister, Mildred was a badass. She never married, never had kids. She supported herself her entire life as a school teacher. Mildred experienced life. She traveled the world, often alone, which was rare for women of her generation.

I have this great picture of her from the late 40’s. She is in the jungle somewhere, wearing a pith helmet and the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. She is so proud and just oozes confidence. In my own memories of Mildred, she was lively and impish. When she would visit, I always knew there would be FUN. On her last visit, she bought us a microwave. It was fairly new on the kitchen convenience scene– about the size of a golden retriever. But is was the latest and greatest technology, and she insisted that we needed one.

Mildred made being alone look amazing.

In truth, she wasn’t really alone. She lived nearby to my grandparents. She moved from New Jersey to Utah when my grandparents retired. Mildred doted on my father, aunt and uncle. They were not her kids, but they were very much her kin. Yes, eventually she died. And likely alone. But at the end of the day, don’t we all end up traveling that road by ourselves? Death is a party of one, no matter how you break it down.

There is this question I’ve been toying with- if no children, where is my legacy? Who will care for it? Who will look back on my existence and cherish it, even if only for 15 minutes?

It’s hard to say. To be frank, there is no guaranteeing that my offspring will care even if I do have any. But if I can’t have kids of my own, I might just still be able to live a remarkable life.

Especially if it comes with a pith helmet.



  1. c. from indeterminatewait · July 1, 2014

    I love Plan Mildred (honestly, could she have a more perfect name for this?) and I love that you’re able to think this way. I don’t even go there. I can’t see a happy life without children, and that’s rather sad, since there is no guarantee I’m going to have them. Strangely, despite the past year+, I’m still stuck on Plan A. Talk about denial.

    As for legacies, it sounds like Mildred left quite an impact, even with no children of her own.

    • thecommonostrich · July 2, 2014

      I literally didn’t think about a life without kids before all this. The hardest part has been coming to terms with the fact that my life may not pan out how I’d assumed and hoped it would.

      But once I started thinking about it, I realized that a life without children doesn’t have to be an empty one. If that is my path, I’ll always feel sad about it. But it’s also nice to know that there are other ways to live a full, beautiful life.

      • c. from indeterminatewait · July 2, 2014

        Absolutely true and such a great outlook on this whole crappy situation. It will all be ok, sometimes that’s just hard to see.

  2. conceptionallychallenged · July 2, 2014

    That sounds like an awesome plan. Although, you know, there is a chance Plan B will actually work out.

  3. Haisla · July 4, 2014

    I love that line from Bridget Jones and strangely that film is on telly right now as I’m reading your post. Talk about synchronicity! Makes me kind of wistful for the days gone by, when being single and remaining so were the only two real worries in my life.. Little did I think that not being able to conceive would feature as an additional worry in my later life.

    So glad to hear that you’ve come up with Plan Mildred. Plan C, as B. Jones-y as it is, doesn’t really sound that great. It is a lot to come to terms with, the thought of a child-free life.. Having a positive vision sounds like a healthy development, although I obviously really, really hope that Plan B will come to fruition.x

    • thecommonostrich · July 11, 2014

      Right? When being single seemed like some kind of affliction? Little did I realize there were many more hurdles in store… #lame #beingagrownupsucks

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