Today's Episode, In Which Heather Laughs in the Face of Cat-Ladydom
I learned yesterday that another one of my cousins is getting married. This led to a moment of some hilarity while I was talking with my mother on the phone. Another of my cousins, apprently, commented, "I suppose this means that just Heather and I are going to end up old maids."
Perhaps a bit of background is in order. I am the eldest of seven first cousins, all girls. A majority of us are what is often kindly called "big girls," as are most of the women in the distaff line of my family. Despite the fact that nearly all the women in my family have worked their entire lives in some fashion, most of the family is possessed of somewhat traditional, conservative ideals about gender roles. Every once in a while there is a little weird competitiveness between the women of my mother's generation and, currently, this is often played out among their children. So and so is smarter. So and so is prettier. So and so is, well, so much more whatever.
Now that the women of my generation are all adults, except for one who is a teenager, there is this undercurrent of competition about who is getting married, what quality are they marrying, etc etc ad naseum.
Anyway, I am the eldest, at the ripe spinster age of 33. I don't talk a lot about my personal life with my family. I learned not long ago that most of my family was quite convinced that I was a lesbian because I never talked about any of my college boyfriends or my sex life and I tended to bring my female friends home for visits. I've never really cared to disabuse them of their beliefs, because it doesn't really matter to me. I often do wish I were a lesbian, but I am sadly not. I didn't have what I considered to be a serious relationship until I was almost 30, only to find out 18 months into it that he was having serious relationships with several other women. And so that ended. I have dated sporadically here and there, but have come to the conclusion that I don't have the energy and patience to deal with a relationship right now. To be brutally honest, I don't honestly think I would be where I am today if I had been focused on finding a mate, getting married, and having babies. I am fully aware that many successful women have to forge a path for themselves that involves things other than traditional female pursuits. And so, right now, I have an intimiate relationship with Netflix and go out occassionally with two very handsome junior faculty men friends from the college. I am pretty at peace with my state of singledom, although there are things I do miss *ahem* But, I figure, if I find someone to share my life with, I find someone. If I don't, I am fully prepared to go it alone, with good friends and a chosen family and no more than two cats at any one time. Perhaps I will be like Gloria Steinem and not find anyone until I am in my 60s. Statistically, I have about a -125% chance of ever being married. I am too smart. I have an advanced degree. I am fat. I am radically independent. I earn more than many men. And I won't put up with any crap. And that is perfectly ok. I actually find it to be not such a bad thing. Because I am independent and able to take care of myself, I can be choosy about my partners. I don't have to let anyone into my life unless they bring something wonderful to it. I don't ever have to worry about "settling" just because I am a big girl.
I am not sure why my cousin made the comment about how she and I will end up being the only old maids in the family. I know why it is important to her. Real women, or so the messages she has received have taught her, are supposed to want to get married and have babies. It's terrible if you don't do that because there's something"wrong" with you and it is truly a crime against nature if you have no desire to do that. I think she assumes that she and I will both remain unmarried because we are fat. The remaining cousins are slim and delicate and pretty. I fear for her that she thinks this way as I fear it means that she will settle for someone who doesn't treat her as she deserves to be treated. And that would truly be a shame.