When you think “traditional woman” in the better sense of the word, what comes to mind? White picket fence? Mom? Caregiver? Housewife? A beautiful woman with a perfect red lip and apron…
When you think “traditional woman” in the better sense of the word, what comes to mind? White picket fence? Mom? Caregiver? Housewife? A beautiful woman with a perfect red lip and apron to greet her hardworking husband back at the door from a long day at the office? The Betty to his Don Draper so to speak.
Even though over the years we millenlials have rearranged and transformed the historical stereotypes of the past from gender norms in clothing, to sexuality, are men still yearning for the Betty Crocker figure of yesteryears? As progressive as we are in this generation, it’s not too far fetched- even for my feminist loving self that in relationships men believe there are still roles to play and eventually we will settle into them.
If we as women buck and shake the system we aren’t viewed as game changers- instead we are stuck into a pile of burning flames that says we will be “Cat ladies” for the remainder of our lives. Those of us who choose to stick to our guns, values, beliefs, and view that a woman’s role is far more than a servant for the man are chastised and challenged with the notion of “Why?
One of the most meaningful conversations I ever had in my life came from a man who has known for the better part of over ten years. A man I have come to call brother, family, confidant, and friend since I had a permit in high school to the moment we celebrated me turning eighteen and crossing the club threshold together. In this conversation we had a really deep, personal, heart to heart in which we talked about the future of our adult lives and what we wanted.
In what I will forever remember now as one of the times I became the most livid I have ever been at a person in my entire life I recount his reaction when I told him I was 90% sure I didn’t want to have children and that marriage was not on my “Must-Do,” life experience list. Coming from a traditional Puerto Rican upbringing he engaged in an argument with me that went from berating and belittling me to ending with “Good Luck finding a man who won’t want children or marriage, I hope you find someone to accommodate that.”
Why would this be relevant now? Why not just let it roll off my back? For the life of me why would words so crude and condescending matter at this point in my life? Well all things come full circle and in light of being thrust back into the zoo that comes with being single…not wanting to get married or have children played an integral part of my break-up.
Now amongst the many things I am doing in this post break-up reflection period, you’re probably wondering why this is running across my brain. I probably should be eating ice cream and watching bad romantic comedies…which I’m not saying I haven’t done or won’t eventually get around to, but this is the first relationship I’ve had where life values I chose to vocalize — marriage and children weren’t integral to my life plan — really made an impact on me.
Can I say hand to bible that they will never happen? Of course not because I don’t know the future. Who knows if for the right man I won’t want to get married in 3 months and start popping out children left and right? I’m not saying it’s not possible. But it’s not a priority for me right now… and that’s okay. If we were living in the 1950’s I would have been married at eighteen or nineteen and have been well on my way to my third child now. However; we live in a day and age that allows a woman possibilities and choice and that’s not something I will act apologetic for.
As I get older of course my choices and beliefs could change on this and I have to be conscious of how I am expressing these beliefs I have going into future relationships. Some men may be on board with the ambiguity of it, other’s may want a more finite answer about where I see myself in the midst of a familiar future. That is fair, we all have our standards and expectations going into a relationship and sharing our lives with someone.
A relationship after all is an investment you make financially, physically, and emotionally. Your taking up stock in someone the moment you allow for a constructed future that includes both people’s dreams. I’m happy that I had a boyfriend who didn’t guilt or shame me about what I wanted even if after awhile he decided that was not something he could live with in the relationship. I respect that, just like he respected that at this point in my life that’s not a need or desire I plan to fulfill.
In a world where throwback thursday and nostaglia for the past runs as rapid as tweets, you’d think that it wouldn’t be as jarring to a man to hear that getting married or having children isn’t my top priority right now.
To be honest with it’s never been on my dream list, even at 25 where many woman are in this phase of “What is next?”
For me my career has always been a driving focus for my life. I have always set out to establish myself first and let the rest fall in line afterwards. I’m aware I don’t physically don’t have my entire life to have children but there are other options available to me like adoption if I changed my mind. Look at women like Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron who have established families for themselves void of marriage or a relationship.Granted we aren’t all celebrities who can adopt children from exotic places, but they are few of many women who are forging their own path and doing it alone with no tears running down their face.
So here’s to being untraditional and proud of where I’m at at this point in my life and not being guilted to feel otherwise because that doesn’t live up to someone’s personal expectations and notions of who I should be or what I should want because I am woman.
My oh My what a year 2016 has been. To be honest this whole 2nd year of grad school has had me feeling like I’m on a merry-go-round waiting for the stop.
I came into this second year of school invigorated and ready to take on the year and tackle what came my way. Instead to be frank I got my ass kicked every which way. Yup I said it. I admittedly got beat down and for once stayed down.
School was challenging, my home life felt stressful, friendships were falling out, my past relationship almost incomprehensibly hard to deal with and then I chose to add on to all that by getting a second job hostessing.
I burned out quick and bright our first semester and told myself I would get my footing and come back swinging this next semester, but while I stood tall, it felt like my hands were filled with lead.
I gave up on myself. I think that’s the first time probably since I was 21 that I can say that honestly. I did not conquer my second year of grad school, I survived it. I had a few shining moments- this isn’t like a woe is me post. I can recognize my blessings and lessons learned and I had a many from working with amazing professors to new writing opportunities and having the love and support from friends and family near and far wanting me to succeed.
With 2 weeks till the end of the semester and a summer in Chicago beckoning to be explored I am finding my footing again. It’s hard though. Getting back up after getting knocked down time and time again is hard. The one thing I can say about 25 year old me versus 21 year old me is that I was able to clearly communicate and articulate my emotions and thoughts to my loved ones- even if for my best friend that meant calling every day to vent about my stresses. My wonderful best friend going through her own year of grad school and would still take the time to listen to me and talk me down.
My fellow co-hort member Courtney and best friend who kept me motivated and provided small acts of kindness like a journal to write my feelings down and making me get up and have breakfast with her the morning after my break-up.
My Mom who sent me inspirational verses and texts just to remind me of my faith and that even if I was losing hope in myself and my purpose that there was a master plan for my life.
My baby sister who I can say with upmost confidence is more of a friend than we were growing up and just provided funny things to keep me smiling whether it was inside jokes, pop culture references or pics of my precious nephew.
Speaking the truth is hard. It’s scary. It was blindingly overwhelming at some points where I was sleeping in, not working out, binge eating, and throwing in the towel- literally I was running on ‘E’ at every point in my life. I lost my motivation and inspiration. Social Media of course could paint a different picture, but sometimes seeing fellow friends, writers, and sister’s succeeding and pushing forth was really what helped propel me forward.
Now I’m finding a good stride in my writing and an outlet in which to express my voice and perspective in a way that excites me. New collaborations, my internship, blogging…I’m really figuring out as a writer how I want my art to be communicated to the larger world. I realize now what I have to say- and that’s my truth.
I may have not excelled the way I envisioned I would, but my triumph came in recognizing my flaws and choosing to strengthen them rather in than wallow in them. To choose grace over guilt, and to let go of parts of my life that I frankly couldn’t hold on to anymore. There’s beauty in the breaking and in letting go and I’m looking forward this next chapter of my life.