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Three weeks ago I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. My husband prepared to drift off to sleep himself, equally weary from a day spent working and running after four small children. I pulled an abandoned stuffed animal from the small of my back. In the darkness, I shook him, suddenly very alarmed.

“Babe!” I cried in distress. “I’m about to turn 33 and I haven’t done anything with my life!”

“That’s absurd,” he mumbled. “You’ve done a lot.”

“No. No, I haven’t. I’ve never had a real career. I haven’t traveled to half the countries I always wanted to. All I’ve done with my life is have a bunch of kids. That’s it.”

The realization distressed me to no end.

And I have a gray hair on my right temple. After 33 comes 40, after 40 is 50 – and after 50, you die.”

“Malaka. You have 4 kids who adore you. A husband that loves you. You’ve done good work with your non-profit. You have done a lot!”

I was not to be consoled so easily.

“No, no! How many kids has that non-profit helped? Not nearly enough. There’s so much more I could do. Ugh.”

My mind could only focus on my other friends and peers who were so highly successful in their chosen fields. And there I was: Just a mom. I eventually fell fitfully to sleep.


That same night, Lily Skylar rushed into her New York apartment clutching a Chic-fila bag and a large lemonade. She took deep gulps, savoring the tangy sweet tartness of the golden liquid. As she prepared for bed after a hard day in the pediatric ER, she paused and took stock of her life.

She lay on her fluffy cold pillow, listening to the silence of her apartment where she lived alone.

“Okay God,” she said aloud. “I’m about to turn 32. Where are my husband and kids? They should be here by now!”

God was silent. Lily panicked slightly.

“No for real God. I’m a successful surgeon. I went to school and graduated with honors. I’m pretty much good at what I do. But seriously, God, where are my husband and kids?”

God still had no audible answer. Lily still held out hope that He would have one.

After showering, Lily picked up her styrofoam cup and finished the last sips before going to sleep. She wouldn’t bother brushing her teeth that night. What for? No one was going to smell her breath in the morning but her. She had no husband to wake and kiss her in the dawn.


Both women lay discontent in their beds not really sleeping but still dreaming of what life could or should have been for both of them – dreaming grown up woman dreams in the glow of the moonlight.

This article has 4 comments

  1. Mom Five Times

    I can only imagine how miserable life could be if I was what others consider to be highly successful and have no one to share it with. Malaka, being a mom is one of, if not the greatest contribution you could make to society. Those little ones of yours are brilliant and will change the world. Be thankful that God used you as an instrument to bring them into this world. I guess I’m in the “preachy” mode today. I’m just saying!

  2. koma

    I agree. I would give anything to just have one right now….

  3. Malaka

    Are you in your “preachy” mode? No one could EVER accuse you of being preachy, MOM OF FIVE if they knew you. However, since I gather a sense of contrition for being preachy in your comment, you can atone for this for inviting me over for tea. Today.

  4. amriba

    this is an internal battle a lot of women go through….and the way you present it…u really are a fantastic writer Malaka, u forgot to add that to your accomplishments. plus, il have your life anyday hon!

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