In fact, it took not settling to make me realize that settling is the better option, and even though settling is a rampant phenomenon, talking about it in a positive light makes people profoundly uncomfortable.And despite growing up in an era when the centuries-old mantra to get married young was finally (and, it seemed, refreshingly) replaced by encouragement to postpone that milestone in pursuit of high ideals (education! Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about.
In fact, take a good look in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you’re not worried, because you’ll see how silly your face looks when you’re being disingenuous. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo! Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics.Whether you acknowledge it or not, there’s good reason to worry. The birthday girl smiles a bit too widely as she delivers these lines, and everyone laughs a little too hard for a little too long, not because we find these sentiments funny, but because we’re awkwardly acknowledging how unfunny they are. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.About six months after my son was born, he and I were sitting on a blanket at the park with a close friend and her daughter.It was a sunny summer weekend, and other parents and their kids picnicked nearby—mothers munching berries and lounging on the grass, fathers tossing balls with their giddy toddlers.In some ways, I meant it: we’d both dreamed of motherhood, and here we were, picnicking in the park with our children. The dream, like that of our mothers and their mothers from time immemorial, was to fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after.