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Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared Feb. 13, 2005.

DEAR CAROLYN: I just found out I'm pregnant. I am psyched for all the obvious reasons, but also dismayed with myself. I'd planned to do so much more before becoming a mother. I had always promised myself that I'd make a lot of money so I could give a child everything; that I'd be living in a nice house in a nice suburb, etc.

Well, I work at a nonprofit, as does my husband, and we live in a rented condo, not a house, and I'm just so worried that we won't be able to provide for our baby the way I always fantasized we could. I also feel thoroughly guilty for thinking this way. Help? Advice?

-- Massachusetts

DEAR READER: "Everything" to a baby is love, food, warm clothing, dry pants and, in a few months, some measuring cups to play with. Stability's nice, too, but not if it's at the expense of love, food, warm clothing and dry pants.

And if further mention of love, cups and warm pants will churn your breakfast, good, because this question really isn't about those things anyway. It's about things we promise ourselves, envision, fantasize.

There comes a point in all lives when it's time to release them, like imagined helium balloons, and go back inside and embrace the lives we actually have -- because we actually chose them, for reasons we may actually not have given much thought lately. So think about them, now. You and your husband went the condo-nonprofit route for reasons that probably make sense to you, probably brought you together, and definitely say something about you both. I bet it's something you like about yourselves.

That is what you'll be giving your baby. Add life insurance, a will and even the tiniest savings account, and you can call that everything, too.

DEAR CAROLYN: I have been dating my girlfriend for about two years, and am starting to think about marriage. The only thing that bothers me is that she is the ex-girlfriend of a friend from college. I still hang out with this guy, and he is cool with things. He dumped her about five years ago. Before we started dating I even asked him for his OK, which he gave.

But I am starting to think it might be strange to marry her, because he would be at the wedding. Is it ever OK to be with a friend's ex, or should I have thought about this at the beginning?

-- Washington, D.C.

DEAR READER: Um. I don't think it's ever OK to decide against marrying someone you want to marry just because one person will make you feel awkward for one day.

In fact, it's so far from OK that it probably comes with other problems -- uncertainty about her, uncertainty of yourself, fear you'll look stupid, immaturity? -- each of which precludes marriage in its own right, I think, at least for now.

If you love her, then keep dating her. Just save marriage for when it not only feels like the best idea you've ever had, but when you'd also marry her tomorrow, anywhere, in front of anyone, as soon as the ink on the license is dry.

Chat online with Carolyn at 11 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com. Write to Tell Me About It in care of The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071; or email

tellme@washpost.com

Weekend on 07/11/2019

Print Headline: It's time to release fantasies, embrace what you actually have

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