Over 30, Single, and Childless

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I never believed in the concept of a biological clock. I always resented the idea of it and believed it to be yet another derogatory term thrown at women to make us feel inadequate, desperate, and needy – similar to way that the term PMS (another concept I don’t believe in) has been used.  However, my refusal to acknowledge its existence came to head almost immediately after I turned 30. I was newly single, fresh out of a long-term relationship, and with no prospects in sight. Not that I was looking. I enjoyed my return into singledom and although I joked about being “old”, I welcomed the new decade wholeheartedly. I’d never been so sure of who I was as a woman and what I wanted out of life. I knew I was entering quite possibly the best phase of my life, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that a different feeling also overcame me. I was 30, single, and childless.

I began to hear the ominous ticking of my biological clock six months after my entrance into club 30. It was last year’s Mother’s Day and as typical with every Mother’s Day, someone had absentmindedly wished me a happy one, as if my being a woman of a certain age automatically meant that I was a mother. My awkward yet polite rejection of this person’s expression of gratitude had triggered a feeling I had never before felt. All of sudden that day transitioned from one in which I celebrated how awesome a mother I had to one that reminded me how I was not returning that awesomeness to any children of my own. All I kept thinking was I’ll be 31 years old in six months; 31, single and childless. And now as this year’s Mother’s Day quickly approaches, the thought has popped into my mind yet again. Only this time I’ll be 32 in six months, still single and still very much childless.

I know. 32 is hardly old and although my clock is ticking away, I’m not too stressed about it. I would love to have children but I wouldn’t be devastated if it doesn’t happen. Still, I must admit that with each passing year, the ticks are getting louder and they’re usually the loudest around Mother’s Day. This year is certainly no different. So as Mother’s Day approaches, I thought about what a single, childless 30-something woman is supposed to do on a day that makes you feel a little alienated or perhaps even a bit inadequate.

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I recently came across Savvy Auntie, a lifestyle brand solely dedicated for the childless yet maternal woman, either by circumstance or by choice. Its founder, Melanie Notkin, developed an acronym for these women called PANK, or Professional Aunt No Kids. Contrary to its name, PANK does not just refer to biological aunts, but is inclusive of all women who have chosen to participate in the lives of children who may or may not be of relation. While they are not mothers themselves, PANKS are nonetheless maternal in their love and care for the children in their lives. I immediately took on the title.

As I caroused through the Savvy Auntie’s website, I realized that being a PANK isn’t so bad. It surely has all the perks of being a mom without actually being one. PANKS deal with the fun stuff like my favorite: spending a day of sugar-filled fun with your favorite kiddies while mom deals with the not-so-fun stuff that happens when you return them home. Still there is no doubt that while being a PANK is great, there are also times when it can be difficult – including Mother’s Day.

Ironically, it was a childless woman named Anna Jarvis who founded Mother’s Day in the early 1900’s. Her idea of the day was not limited to celebrating women who had bore children, as it is today, but also to those who played the role of “mother” in whatever way allowed them. Stepmothers, godmothers, and aunts, like herself, were recognized. So in honor of Anna Jarvis, this Mother’s Day I will not only celebrate the awesomeness of mothers worldwide, I will also celebrate my fellow PANKS who deserve some love too, just as Anna envisioned.

Tamara Jenkins is a real Jersey girl. She’s independent, opinionated, and loves her sports. When she’s not watching her favorite teams, she’s reading, practicing yoga or working on a few books she hopes will get published one day. She also may or may not be training for a 5k race. With a belief that life is what you make of it, Tamara doesn’t merely want to survive life; she wants to live it.

Spring in New York City

Spring is in the air and if you live in New York City, it couldn’t come any sooner. After suffering through a dismal winter full of snowstorms that came as frequently as your weekly trash pick up, just a hint of warmth in the air probably has you salivating at the thought of picnics, strolls in the park, and outdoor concerts. Luckily, NYC offers a wide range of activities for the month of April that are less demanding of the pockets and full of spring fun.

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Check out what has become the unofficial first sign of spring: the blooming of the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden located at 990 Washington Ave, at President Street in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden holds a collection of approximately 220 cherry trees on display, one of the largest in the country, and you can enjoy the beauty (and smell) of springtime through various tours or exhibits offered throughout the month of April.  You can also plan your visit around the exact stage of bloom you wish to see by tracking the blooming progress of these beautifully delicate flowers through the garden’s online CherryWatch Blossom Status Map.

Note: Tours typically take place every Wednesday at 1pm and Saturday at 11am. Prices range from $10 for adults to free for children under the age of 12

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Feeling dramatic? Well, the Tribeca Film Festival may be just the event for you. The festival takes place April 16th to April 27th, and this year Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea will be the host. Not only will you be able to see some incredible independent films that range from documentaries to narrative features and shorts, you may just bump into a celebrity or two, including one its founders, Mr. Robert De Niro, himself.

Note: Here’s the film guide for a complete listing of films featured this year as well as the event guide, where you can find a list of events that are happening during the two week festival.

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If you want to usher in the spring with a toast, head over to Studio Square in Long Island City on April 25th and check out the Five Boro Craft Beer Fest. This indoor/outdoor event features 33 brewers from across all five NYC boroughs that will serve over 300 craft beers, some of which are specially brewed for this event and have never been tasted.

Note: Doors open at 7PM and all attendees must 21 years of age or over.

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For all the foodies out there, the 27th annual Taste of the Nation NYC is the perfect event to indulge in savory dishes and drinks from over 75 of the city’s most renowned chefs and bartenders. Located at 82 Mercer, this event is a little pricey but it’s for a good cause. Proceeds will go towards the No Kid Hungry network, a program dedicated to extending access to food for millions of low-income children across the nation.

Note: The event is held on April 28th. General Admission is from 7-10PM. Tickets can be purchased directly through the No Kid Hungry network’s website.

Tamara Jenkins is a real Jersey girl. She’s independent, opinionated, and loves her sports. When she’s not watching her favorite teams, she’s reading, practicing yoga or working on a few books she hopes will get published one day. She also may or may not be training for a 5k race. With a belief that life is what you make of it, Tamara doesn’t merely want to survive life; she wants to live it.

A Raisin in the Sun: A Broadway Revival

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Denzel Washington is riveting as Walter Lee Younger in this recent revival of the classic play, A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorraine Hansberry. A tribute to the past it is running in the famous Ethel Barrymore Theater in New York City nearly 55 years after its debut in the same theater. The story is based on a black family living in the poor south side of Chicago in the 1950s, whose hopes and dreams are wrapped around a large sum of insurance money inherited after the death of the family’s patriarch.

It can be said that a man doesn’t feel like a man until he’s able to take care of his family in a way the he sees fit. Leading a cast full of complex performances, Washington seems to capture this sentiment as he conveys the in depth struggles Walter Lee has about his manhood. Despite being nearly 20 years the character’s senior, Washington is able to give a credible and dichotomous performance of a man who is desperately clinging onto a sense of idealism that has been crippled with bitterness after years of constant disappointment.

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LaTanya Richardson Jackson reels you in as matriarch, Lena Younger. A staple on Broadway stages, Jackson commands the audience’s attention as she masterfully balances Lena’s proclivity to use wit as a means of getting her point across with her ability to offer her frank assessments of life. Oscar-nominated Sophie Okonedo gives a brilliant performance as Walter Lee’s aloof wife, Ruth, who is so focused on tending to the needs of others, that she forgets to tend to her own.

Another Broadway regular, Anika Noni Rose, is excellent as Walter Lee’s precocious and ambitious younger sister Beneatha Younger. Rose leads her character through an identity crisis as she attempts to combat the rising cynicism that seemingly tries to suffocate her in the same way that it does her brother. Rounding out the outstanding cast in supporting roles are Sean Patrick Thomas (as African national, Joseph Asagai), Bryce Clyde Jenkins (as Walter Lee’s 10 year-old son, Travis) and Jason Dirden (as black elite George Murchison).

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Anticipating the arrival of their windfall, members of the Younger family have conflicting ideas on what to do with it. Walter Lee ambitiously wants to use the money to start his own business as the owner of a liquor store. Beneatha, wrought by her own ambitions, has dreams of becoming a doctor. Lena and Ruth both share the idea of purchasing a modest house they can call their own. As the family struggles with this dilemma, Lorraine Hansberry is able to demonstrate the complexities that come with being poor and black in America. Although this classic is based off a family living in the 1950s, it is still relevant for some black families today who deal with issues of race, class, cultural and personal identity.

A Raisin in the Sun, starring Oscar winner Denzel Washington, is playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theater until June 15, 2014. For tickets visit this website

Tamara Jenkins is a real Jersey girl. She’s independent, opinionated, and loves her sports. When she’s not watching her favorite teams, she’s reading, practicing yoga or working on a few books she hopes will get published one day. She also may or may not be training for a 5k race. With a belief that life is what you make of it, Tamara doesn’t merely want to survive life; she wants to live it.

Can I Remain Friends with My Ex?

Is it possible to remains friends with an ex? Sure, but it will require a careful and objective approach to the situation. Of course, being objective about a person with whom you used to share the most intimate parts of yourself can be a daunting task for some. This difficulty may be exacerbated if the relationship ended badly—in which case it may be impossible. However, if you truly feel that a friendship with your ex is worth the effort, then by all means go for it! Here are a few tips to get through the tightrope act of transitioning from girlfriend to friend.

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Rule 1: Give yourself a grace period. Creating a “no contact” period between the time you break things off with your former lover and the time you decide to embark on your quest for a friendship is necessary. Regardless of how cordial, mutual, or inevitable your breakup may have been, the fact of the matter is your ex was an important person in your life at some point and not having him there in that capacity can be jarring. You need this time to mourn and accept the end of the relationship.

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Rule 2: Assess your feelings. Once you’ve gone though the grace period and have concluded that you want to pursue a friendship with your ex, you have to ask yourself why you want this friendship?  Be honest about your intentions. Make sure you’re not pursing this with the dream of a potential reunion. He may never want to be in a relationship with you again, and you have to understand and accept this as fact.

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Rule 3: Assess his feelings. Reconsider if friendship with him is the right option if you know he still harbors strong feelings for you. Don’t give him a false sense of hope by stringing him along with a friendship when you know he yearns for more. This may sound counterproductive, but if you care enough to want him as your friend, then delay your friendship with him until you are completely sure that’s all he truly desires.

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Rule 4:  Keep is strictly platonic. Do not, I repeat, do not continue or maintain a sexual relationship with him. The idea of a “friends with benefits” situation is nearly impossible if it involves your ex. It’s hard enough to maintain a platonic relationship with an ex. Sex is always accompanied by feelings not matter how hard you try to avoid them. If rules 2 or 3 apply to either of you, then rule 4 must be followed as well.

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Rule 5: Keep outings to a minimum. So, you’ve followed rules 1 through 4 to a T, and you’re now deep in the infant stages of your friendship. Don’t ruin any progress by still engaging in activities that can be considered “couple-like.” Frequent dinner dates and hang out sessions may bring on the potential for mixed signals and compromising situations to occur. Sure you may be enjoying your ex’s company, but friendships come with far less expectations than relationships. Just because you’re doing well as friends doesn’t mean you will do well as a reconciled couple. Remember: there was a reason you two broke up in the first place.

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Rule 6: Create boundaries. Since this friendship has risen from the ashes of something that was once romantic, you have to recognize that this will not be your typical, run-of-the-mill friendship. Be careful not to discuss with your ex your newfound freedom and its accompanying love life. Neither of you may not have deep feelings for each other anymore, but even the tiniest of feelings may spawn jealousy which could lead to confused feelings and awkward conversations. This friendship is supposed to add value to your life, not create stress.  Do not assume you two are cool enough to discuss how well last night’s date went.

Just like in a relationship, a good friendship requires effort, trust, mutual respect and honesty. Following these rules won’t ensure that a friendship will happen between you and your ex. However, if you can keep these few tips in mind, there’s a strong change you’ll be able to turn your failed romantic relationship into a budding friendship that could last for many years to come.

Tamara Jenkins is a real Jersey girl. She’s independent, opinionated, and loves her sports. When she’s not watching her favorite teams, she’s reading, practicing yoga or working on a few books she hopes will get published one day. She also may or may not be training for a 5k race. With a belief that life is what you make of it, Tamara doesn’t merely want to survive life; she wants to live it.

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