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.