Expectations – Early Marriage and Babies

Photo credit: noahslightfoundation

Felt nostalgic on a rainy night, decided to look up the friends I spent my high school years with, seems like 85% are married, 50% of them have younger siblings that are married or engaged, and most of them have at least one kid, if they don’t have a second on the way.

Growing up very fundamental, religious, and home-schooled seemed to indicate that you get married as soon as possible (can’t be having sex out of wedlock – that would present a poor example to the world and we were supposed to be role models). The rumor-mill at church was so bad that people would start surmising that you were “courting” or dating-with-the-intention-of-marriage if they saw one person talking to another person of the opposite gender by themselves after church. I was suspected of such, or rather, I heard from my mother that someone else had asked her if things were headed “that way”.

I have mixed emotions seeing pictures of my old friends following the prescribed path, and evidently loving it. I can’t imagine being pregnant. I can’t imagine getting married in my early twenties. Not to say that my friends didn’t or haven’t gone through what I have as I moved out of my parent’s house, got a full-time job, took night-classes to finish my degree, living on my own or with a boyfriend. I have had time to reflect on who I was “brought up to be” and how I personally want to be and live my life. I have had time to explore life, try different forbidden or generally frowned on activities admonished against the authorities in my life when I was young.

The opinions I had as a teenager are still pretty much the same. I didn’t want to get married young, I didn’t want to have kids (I don’t know if that was a “forever” thing or just a “not for a few years” thought at that time, but that’s not really important). But that doesn’t mean I don’t get an emotional twinge when I see baby pictures of a friend’s baby when we used to sit in classes together, sing in an choir together, and go to each other’s birthday parties. I was Expected to do what they are doing now. I have to keep telling myself that I’m not wrong for not wanting what they have. I’m not guilty of whatever for not having a toddler running around my ankles and my belly pregnant with another one. I’m not sinning if I’m not a stay-at-home mom who greets her husband with a healthy home-made dinner. I am not ashamed I’m using birth control – we all know what that allows and doesn’t allow.

Venting about this helps. I’m starting to realize that the first few years I focused on just living out of the umbrella that was my life – my family and my church. I was just trying to live and prove to myself that I could make it in the world. I stuffed the hurt, the drama, the high-expectations, and the religious oppression down deep. I’m not and have no desire to live the lifestyle that my parents, church, and community tried to get me to swallow for 21 years. I do feel that I’m in a good place in my life, what I’m doing is meaningful, and I am having an impact. Being married with a kid on the way is not the only way to feel like that, and there are other perfectly fine and acceptable ways of living my life – like the way I am.

Photo credit: Noah Slight Foundation

P.S. I’m really excited I figured out how to link for the photo credit – yay me!

P.S.S. I wrote this blog yesterday, but today found a similar post. Here is a link to another blog post by a young woman who thinks and feels the same (although she has the perspective I would have if I still identified as Christian). Nice to know there are others out there like me.

 

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6 thoughts on “Expectations – Early Marriage and Babies

  1. Have you read Bridget Jones’s Diary? I read it recently and it struck me that a running feature is that when she meets up with other female characters (her mum, mum’s friend etc) they ask about her love-life and getting her married off, how her biological clock is ticking. It’s bugged me since I read it, because to me it’s like saying women truly come into their worth when they marry and have children. Without that, we’re just career-girls, Singletons.

    I can relate to you: people I’ve known for fifteen years are engaged and having kids. I don’t want that yet – I want to focus on a career first – and I’m kind of dreading the day the marriage/kids inquisition starts. I’ve read debates of selfishness for having kids, and not having kids. It seems that either way you’re going to be judged. I agree with you – by not doing the kids and marriage thing first, you get to explore who you want to be. That, in itself, leads to the argument against marrying too young: by doing so, you risk not allowing your own identity to form more fully. Good on you for doing things your way.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • I haven’t read that book – I’ve seen the movie (a couple times) and loved it though – think I’ll read it now that you mention it – always take a recommendation on a book!

      Good point on the either way you’re being judged – damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But in the end, it’s my life to live, and I think I can put others’ expectations on a shelf and be selfish. We’ll see where life leads me (and you!). Thanks for reading!

      • I think you see in in the film too, though maybe not so much. I love the film – never really saw the appeal until I watched it for the sake of revision. I like that philosophy: take book recommendations.

        Very true. Arguably, we’re all selfish. It’s just a case of to what extent, and how it manifests itself.

        Que sera, sera. I’m off to try and compose today’s NaBloPoMo post now.

        You’re welcome 🙂

  2. Just remember that whatever your friends’ situations are now is not a true indicator of what they will be 10, 20 years from now. When you live your life based on expectations you set for yourself, versus someone else’s you come out stronger in the end because you will have learned to live on your own terms and make your own choices. Just my two cents.

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