Hetero-version... I can only authentically write my own experiences... However, I want to make sure in this post that people don't assume that by writing "marriage", I mean hetero = normal = marriage. It's 2016 ya'll.
I'm a firm believer in modeling behavior for children... so when my oldest said to me "mom I never want to be married" I couldn’t help but feel a bit like I’d failed her… like we failed her. I can't blame her. I never wanted to be married (you can read more in this post I wrote on “Broken Homes”), but when I did get married, I wanted to give it a fair shake. I didn’t want to enter with the idea that it would ultimately fail. I wanted to be wrong about my feelings and what I’d known to be true. But I was right. Marriage is not for the selfish at heart.
It's no secret my marriage has had it's questionable moments. We separated for years and then recently have tried to give it another go. Our second go-round hasn’t been perfect, it’s a work in progress. I had hoped that by living honestly, my daughter may think that relationships require work, not magic fueled by a dystopic 1950 Disney “happily ever after”...
After joining forces with their father again, there were moments of regret. When it was “just us girls”, I had silence and freedoms; I had my own space, my own rules, my own domain- my law was the law and there was no compromise. Now I work with their father to set boundaries, reward behaviors, and teach life lessons... it's exhausting. Sharing and cooperation is exhausting. And sometimes it doesn't really work out the way you envision it. Some days I wish I were on my own again. Some days I’m glad he’s here. I think that’s fair. I think he probably feels the same way.
There are moments when I ask myself, ‘Do I even want this life for my daughter?’. Would she be held back if she were married? Would she feel more empowered if she were on her own, living a life on her own terms? Would she be lonely? Could she help more people if she didn’t have to worry about childcare, good schools, compromise, carpools… Am I showing her the fullness of my own potential by being her mother? Am I failing her? Is her father failing her?
There's an historical notion that women will make career, relationship, and wellness sacrifices for the benefit of their families. But lately that trend (thankfully) is slowly dissolving. With this movement toward empowering women, I wonder if we've failed our daughters because we've empowered them at the expense of dehumanizing and discouraging straight cis men. They are our allies. They are not our enemies. If we become stronger so must they. By ignoring the role of our male counterparts, or even encouraging them to be more feminine, we aren’t tapping into the idea that balance is what makes life livable; relationships work; and people happy. In a cis utopia, we don’t want to have all these power cis women walking around and no cis men to respect them as partners or see them as equals and not competition. As women have become more liberated, the archaic ideas, practices, and opinions of men continue to eat away at the fiber of institutions such as marriage. Should a mom have a job and do more housework? Is that fair? Should a mom get up more in the night for their crying newborn? Should a dad be able to take time off to help when they have a new baby? Is there a way to balance female liberation with the need to compromise and cooperate in a heterosexual partnership?
The best part of parenting is slowly allowing your child to live for themselves; explore their own beliefs; and grow in their own understanding of how the world works and how they can make it work for them. So all these questions I have may fade away, as my daughter begins to build the world around her, that she wants to live in. It’s not my place to tell her, what’s best for her. And although it would be amazing to see her in a loving relationship with someone, I just want her to feel complete and whole. The best way for her to know what “complete and whole” looks like, is for me to live a life and convey the message that I am.
Read more about my marital journey:
Making My Own Lemonade- resurrecting a relationship after trauma
Broken Homes- figuring out love from a single parent experience
A Philosophical Discussion About Love, Heartbreak & Hate- a discussion about forgiveness
Divorce-ing... 7 Helpful Things to Remember
Relationship Advice: What I Learned From My 4 Year Old
To the Red Sox... Ruining Lives Since 2004
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.