Thursday, June 14, 2007

Decisions

I caught up with my friend Tiffany last night and we talked about many of the issues that concern (see also - bother) us on a regular basis.

As women, we are stuck in very difficult situations. We are forced, rather encouraged, to consider so many different and conflicting influences before making decisions that concern our lives. The key word there is our lives. The decisions that I choose are mine and mine only. At least at this juncture…

Whatever we, as women, choose to do is met by scrutiny, admonishment and scorn by one side or another. If I choose to get married, I am subscribing to archaic rules and values. Wasn’t I aware that women could make it solo? Perhaps I was, but didn’t want to go it alone…perhaps I wanted someone to share it with a long the way. And if I don’t want to get married, well, then naturally I am a career-ambitious bitch who doesn’t value family or family values.

Then there is the issue of children. Do I want them? Does he? If I decide I don’t want them and he does, is that a deal breaker? I tested the waters the other night while having dinner with my mom and dad.

“I don’t think I want to have kids,” I said to my mom.

“Sure you do, sweetheart! You’ve always wanted kids!”

“Yeah, I did. But I was younger then. Maybe I’m just not cut out for them. What if I’m a bad mom? And isn’t the world already populated enough?”

“Sarah, you’ll want kids when the time comes. You’re just in a phase right now.”

Yeah…that’s it, I’m in a phase. I think what she meant was, “Sarah, you’ll want to have kids…because I want you to have kids…and I’m your mother and mother knows best…”

Perhaps.

I don’t know. It sometimes just seems that no matter what side I choose, someone winds up disappointed. And I wonder, why can’t people just back out or pitch in and just make the decisions for me.

It would be a lot easier.

Sometimes I long for a simpler time. When there was only one car, a Ford, and it only came in one color, black. A time when women got married and had children early and they were “happy”…at least on the surface.

But I think they were happy. I think, maybe they didn’t know any different…maybe they didn’t know they were unhappy. Being married and having kids was what they were supposed to do and that was supposed to make them happy. They didn’t have a choice. The grass can’t be greener on the other side if another side doesn’t exist, right?

These days women actually have to figure out what makes them happy amid swirls of dissension. Thanks, women’s lib! Thanks a lot.

And this makes me think about my job and what I do, toiling day in and day out over what really are absolute frivolities.

I work to have money because I am scared to be poor. I work five days a week so that I have money to do something on the two days that I have off. I am working to contribute to the “system” because that is what I am supposed to do…this is what is supposedly good and respectful.

So then I think, what I really want to do is finish my degree, move to Seattle, work in a coffee shop and be a yoga instructor.

But I’m told I am too educated for that now. Silly me, here I was thinking that getting a Master’s degree would open up more doors.

I don’t want to be “wealthy”, I just want to have enough money to do the things that I want to do…to afford the things I want to afford. That’s it. I want to be comfortable and happy. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for, really.

I look up to my philosophy professor from Belmont. She never told us much about her personal life, so what I know about her, I have pieced together to make my ideal Dr. O.

She is in her 40’s or 50’s, never married but had, in her life, encountered and possessed many loves. She has no children and this sometimes creates a void, but she knows that if she truly wanted a child, she could have one.

She has a fantastic body, one that has not by spoiled by age and unhappiness. Life hasn’t gotten the best of her, her spirit or her body.

Which is more than I can say for people half her age.

She has fabulous salt and pepper hair and doesn’t attempt to hide it with colorings and dyes. She expects people to understand and accept her for who she is…not for the person she used to be or wish she would become.

Dr. O taught me that the important questions in life, the questions worth asking, are the ones you can’t answer. The questions that dig deep into your soul and, upon investigating, allow you to discover who you truly are.

For some reason, to me, she embodied both the conservative and the modern view of women. Somehow she was able to reconcile them both…in theory and in practice.

I think what made that possible is that she had found who she was, who she wasn’t and, in turn, was infinitely happy.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is a decision you ultimately need to make for yourself.

True, the whole Women's Lib movement has made it confusing to say the least, but the fact of the matter is women will always be the ones to get pregnant, carry the child and are best equipped to raise it (men can't breast feed).

Just realize you are given the ability to create life and a family as a gift by design. While education and exploring the world are nice pursuits, they are ultimately selfish and not completely fulfilling. Money or personal success will not completely or permanently leave you happy and satisfied.

Further complicating matters is the fact you can't exercise that option "down the road" at any time you want since humans have biological clocks ticking away, even as I write this...

Life is precious and finite, so make the most of your time on Earth. You don't want to end up single and/or moving through your mid 30s facing this topic on an increasingly frequent basis, do you?

Trust me, you don't...

Anonymous said...

There's a quote somewhere that says, "The main obligation is to amuse yourself."

Because life is "precious and finite," it's your responsibility to make sure you had a good time doing it. YOUR responsibility. That's what makes life both harder and better than our female forbears had it. They only had one approved avenue to happiness, so most took it, but they were certainly no different from us...some found happiness, some found a stifling domestic prison from which there was no escape.

Now, all avenues of happiness are open to you. So OF COURSE you're going to get flak no matter which decision you make. There will always be those who took the opposing course and will wonder why you didn't go with them, or ponder what would've happened if they went with you.

I'm your age and in the exact same boat, but I know this much. Women can't have it all. So you have to choose--you have to choose what's right for you, and if you pick wrong, the blame rests with you alone. The choice is both a blessing and curse.

But I'm glad I have it.

And believe me, there are a lot worse things than roaming around single and in your 30s. Being stuck in a dysfunctional marriage while attempting to placate a passel of screaming kids springs to mind.

One more quote, from Chris Rock: "You're either single and lonely or married and bored. There's no happiness anywhere."

Anonymous said...

Good point, but who said I was a woman? :)

bobuster said...

There are so many things I could say in regards to your post, too many to list.

There certainly are things that you need to remember though, (1) the decision is YOURS, (2) you will NEVER make everyone happy with the decisions that YOU choose, no matter how hard you try, (3) you may second guess your decisions, but don't ever regret them!

The decisions that you make throughout your life are what sculpt you as a person!

As I've been "reflecting" lately, I've second guessed a lot of decisions (i.e. moving to TN), but I don't regret those decisions.

Just make the decisions that are right for YOU!

Scott said...

I want kids, but I think chemotherapy just killed my poor testicles!