Friday, May 23, 2008

Men, motherhood and marriage

from Julie, reacting to the lengthy ChoiceMoms discussion group thread about Choice Moms, marriage and the pressure to marry.

Reading this made me conjure up this image of a bunch of men blogging about caring for children on their own and trying to fit into society's standard of being married.

How silly the image! Men are just so different than least the ones I know.
I think a lot of these discussions about whether we should be married wouldn't exist if men were more nurturing. I don't think it's odd at all to not want a marriage if the one you are marrying is more work to care for than the child you are raising. The men in my life have been sorry excuses for role models. I don't really want to get married because I have yet to meet a man that would enhance my life more than he would drain me of my reserves. Who needs that? I'll raise my child by my own will, thank you very much.

This isn't to say I don't want that close and loving relationship with a man, but he needs to be someone who contributes to my well-being and I his.

I think our parents desire us to get married because it's just the only way they see life as a "normal" progression. They aren't taking into account the lifestyles of women these days. When our grandmothers were young women, they had three careers to choose from (nurse, teacher, prostitute:-), but now, women can run for President, among thousands of other career choices. So this entire concept is beyond foreign to them.

I think raising a child on my own is not a selfish endeavor. It is a biological urge that is hard-wired into my brain and I WILL NOT apologize for it. My reproductive rights are equal to all of the married people out there, happy or not.

Being married and staying married is no test of character.


Anonymous said...

Not only is it incredibly common NOT to dream of marriage and the white picket fence... those of us who grew up in households where are parents were very unhappy in their marriage have TONS of reasons to think "Um, I think I'll pass on THAT experience!"

Humans are such fascinating beings... some of us grow up with some bad relationship dynamics and then repeat them in our own adult lives because it's what's familiar, it's what we know. Even if it hurts us, it's hard to do things differently because it wasn't modeled differently.

But others of us witness negative things and do everything we can to avoid those situations in our own lives. Maybe sometimes going to the opposite extreme... but the point is, it's all understandable responses to past history.

And then there's plain old personality differences.We are all individual human beings with our own likes and dislikes, so that also figures in to what we dream of for ourselves.

Last thing - in terms of parents pressuring us to get married, remember: most people are uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. My father once told me he thought I was "abnormal" for being happy when I was single. He's someone who is very unhappy when he's single (my parents divorced when I was really young), and he simply can't imagine anyone feels any differently.

I've stopped trying to convince him I do feel differently and that yes usually I'd like to have a boyfriend, but I also have a wonderful full life and relationships when I don't and I think that's just fine. I finally said "Dad, you're going to have to trust me that I'm happy. And you know you can't point to any signs I'm fooling you or myself, so let's just accept that you don't understand me but you don't have to worry about me."

That's worked fairly well. And my friends - none of us do that to each other "When are you getting married?" We all know that if the time comes and we've found the person, we'll do it, but if it doesn't... pestering each other about it does NOT help make it happen!

Shari said...

I like what you said about finding someone who contributes to your well-being and you to his. My parents give me hell for not being married. My father picks fights at family get-togethers over it and this Mother's Day made sure to tell me that going out for lunch was my mom's celebration, not mine. My mom gives me the old line "you're just too picky." Given that a man hasn't actually asked me out in years doesn't seem to matter--somehow it's my fault for being single.

Jill said...

I think we can all agree that some men are insensitive,inconsiderate, domineering, insecure, (insert uncomplimentary description of your choice), twerps, etc. Many marriages and romantic partnerships are not happy ones. Many women are perfectly happy being single and childfree or single moms.

I hope we can all agree that some men are good people with fine qualities. Some men make good marriage and dating partners. Some men make good friends and fantastic fathers.

There are a lot of men that are somewhere in the middle.

In my case, I've been blessed with a wonderful Dad who has always been in my corner and who is happiest spending time with my Mom and his kids. I've been fortunate to have a great brother who is a good friend as well as a man who once had his little sister looking through high school yearbooks like they were mug shots so he could find and "have a word with" the upperclassman who tripped me in the hall. After 8 years of engineering school all total, I've acquired a wonderful set of male friends. One of my former coworkers is a guy who has become one of my closest friends. After spending hours listening to my thoughts about Plan B he's been enthusiastically urging me on and periodically trying to get updates on the conception process.

There are many men out there that I wouldn't care to speak to on the street let alone share my life with. There are others that I think are wonderful and my only regret is they found their Ms. Right before I met them. It's not necessary to be married to find true happiness in life, but why not keep an open mind that maybe there's a right person out there somewhere?

There are a lot of societal pressures out there, but if you don't care what other people think then it's possible to ignore other people's expectations and focus on living up to your own. Our mothers and grandmothers and some of our fathers fought the good fight so that we'd have the freedom to make our own choices and follow our own desires. Immense strides have been made since my 78 year old mother was told by a medical school dean that despite her fantastic academic credentials he didn't see why they should accept her since they'd spend 4 years teaching her and then she'd just quit to get married and have kids. [She politely told him that if that was his thinking he really didn't have anything to teach her. Then she went elsewhere to get her medical degree.]

We're all here to support one another as we attempt to have children and be great mothers. Males are part of the picture even if we're single. Somewhere, somehow there's a man making our dreams possible even if it's at a very great distance. Then there's the possibility (50% probability or slightly more with frozen sperm) of having sons.....

So men come in all shades of good, bad, and in between. It's up to us to spot the ones to stay away from, be receptive to the ones that are worth knowing, and be responsible in trying to raise any sons to be good men.

likesam said...

Okay, yeah, there are good men and bad ones. There are also good women and bad ones. The virtue of being female does not automatically make one a good human being. We're none of us without faults and shortcomings - the secret is to learn to accept that and live our lives anyway.