I Knew All the Rules but the Rules Did Not Know Me...Guaranteed

This weekend G and I went to a get-together with his family for Labor Day. His family is nice and I love them, but the first time I met them long ago I was reminded of the father from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, who called his daughter's fiance's family, "dry...like toast. A toast family!"  Meaning, not extremely warm or comforting or expressive, diligently following society's rules and not particularly appreciative of anything outside the norm. They've loosened up a bit in the ten years G and I have been together, though they remain cliquish (G's side and his stepmother's side don't mingle a lot) and conversation never gets far beyond surface topics. G and I have always felt a little like black sheep, partly because we are and partly because we've allowed ourselves to be written into that role and allowed others to perpetuate it.

Today the place was bursting at the seams with babies. Two newborns, one expectant mother, and two young girls galloping around the house. It's not a huge family either, but every single woman there besides me was a mother. And I feel like they're looking at me like something's wrong with me. I'm 31, have been with G for ten years and haven't married, and I don't have children nor do I particularly want to have children. And this, I surmise, confuses them and also diminishes my worth. Like, I'm somehow less valuable and less whole as a human being because I'm not a mother. Like our relationship is less valid and less worthy of celebration because we've opted out of traditional marriage for the time being.

I know that this isn't true in my heart. I know my limitations, and I know that I'm not a monster because I'm not fanatically maternal. In fact, I think it makes me more aware and responsible than those who have children without really considering their temperaments and resources, just because it's what's expected of them. I am not in a financial position to have children, and at this point in my life I value my autonomy and my freedom too much. My choices, however, are not appreciated by them. Instead I feel invisible. I'm trying to not let them inside my head, but it's hard. Is it possible I was born with my mental wiring all wrong, like a biological switch that compels most women to have children just never got switched on in me? Am I faulty? Would they love me more if I had a baby, and if so, why? Is that really all I'm worth, a producer of babies to coo over? What if the black sheep label got passed on to my child and they wouldn't fawn over that child as much as the others, what then?

It's all so ridiculous. I've always done things in life according to my own time frame, slowly, deliberately. Not always right, but consciously. A late bloomer, maybe. Perhaps I contemplate and worry too much about the details and potential problems and am often paralyzed by fear, but I like to be prepared. But with children, it's not just that I would be afraid to be a mother, at this point, I really don't want to be. I don't see why I should have to explain that to anyone, as no one has to explain why they do want to be so. They probably just expected that G and I would date for a few years, get married, have babies. A, B, C. And now because we haven't followed that script they don't take us seriously, perhaps think our lives aren't as full, important, or interesting. That isn't true, or fair.

We are our own family. And we are definitely not one of the toast variety.

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  1. So well written! I think there are a lot of women out there that feel the same way you do. Just because we don't follow the 'traditional' path, doesn't mean we aren't happy!

  2. Thanks Peach! You'd think in this day and age people would be more accepting of differences, but sadly it's not always that case. There's such a huge pressure to get married too, a lot of people focus way too much on that one day and idealize it instead of thinking about the relationship over the long haul.


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