Getting married was terrifying. But that terror didn’t come from the idea of being married. Instead, and more importantly, we were scared about all the questions and different ideas of what a marriage entails…
Does it mean a white dress? Champagne? Wedding vows? Are you taking his last name? Aren’t you a shit head for getting married at all considering, uh, I don’t know, the patriarchy? Don’t you know people aren’t meant to spend their whole lives with one person? What about the DIVORCE RATE? Heard of it?
People ask him, “Are you ready to lose your freedom?” while people ask me, “Are you ready to be a mother?”
Even after you’re married, these questions don’t really stop, and the kind of questions my husband and I get are totally different. People ask him, “Are you ready to lose your freedom?” while people ask me, “Are you ready to be a mother?”
Of course, this is ridiculous. I can’t even begin to break apart how ridiculous this is, because “the ol’ ball and chain” bit makes me queasy. My husband asked me, “How do I even respond to that?” Even though the joke was insulting to our partnership, mentioning that to someone gets an eye roll and a “lighten up.”
Maybe it’s just the way these jokes and comments and questions stacked up, but it doesn’t feel like I can just “lighten up.” Any confidence I had in myself to ignore what people were saying quickly dissipated, and one of my newest and biggest worries was born. As I grow in my relationship with my husband and future family, what’s going to happen to my identity?
The plan was to have kids ASAP, which looked like one-to-two years for our current means, but now I’m biting my nails about it. I want to have a kid, but I also want to be a published author. I understand, again, that these two things are not on opposite sides of reality, but I can’t help but feel like I’m somehow going to diminish in value the more I fall into traditional roles. I mean, you’ve seen what happens to lady authors, right? Now imagine adding a “Mrs.” to the mix.
Will people still take me seriously? Will new people meeting us see me as a separate being from my husband, or am I doomed to be an “and Mrs…”? Will my cooler, more progressive friends tire of me? And what about my writing? When does my blog cease being a blog and start being a “mommy blog”? Are people going to still want to talk to me about social justice issues when I have a lip-wobbling one-year-old strapped to my chest?
My husband doesn’t have to worry about being pegged as a father first, because society will never ask that of him. He’s not going to be a “daddy accountant.” Instead, like every man who has ever had both a family and a career is allowed to do, he’ll just be an accountant.
It’s not like I’m in denial here. I know that, as a mother, you have to give a large part of yourself to be a parent, but so does anyone involved in raising a child. Logically, I understand this is not gender exclusive, but my jaw clenches when I start really thinking about it.
I can’t pretend that just because I make jokes about it, I feel fine. I don’t feel fine, but I also don’t feel like the odds being stacked against me means I should just give up or become resentful about my marriage or becoming a mother.
I’m going to try to publish a book next year, I’m going to have a kid while still acting as an annoying Social Justice Warrior, and I’m going to be with my husband and be happy. When you come face-to-face with the patriarchy, sometimes the biggest middle finger you can give is just to live the way you want.