Sunday, July 29, 2007

see also Woman

"You'll make someone a good wife someday," said Bob after I made dinner, washed the dishes, and cleaned the kitchen. At the time I was a whole sixteen years old, and I took his comment as a compliment. After all, what right-minded girl wouldn't want to be a good wife someday? The thought never crossed my mind that one day I would be thirty-three and not a good wife, not a wife at all, actually. I mean, I was the one who at eight insisted my sister and my friend Anne participate in a pretend wedding in which I was the bride, of course, complete with a white, frilly dress and veil. There was even a miniature paper bride and a handsome, yet soused-looking, groom for the top of the three-tiered cake.

That childhood rehearsal has yet to become a reality. In fact, it's not now and never has been even close. In my twenties I learned about feminism, and realized that treating singleness as a curable disease is downright absurd. What right-minded woman would want to be (just) the good wife? Of course, now I'm in my thirties, a successful graduate student, writer, and teacher, but at every turn I am reminded of what I lack...a husband and children, which without reason equates to the life worth living. I recently read an article that said if I don't meet someone before I get my Ph.D., forget it. Spinster-city.

That idea got me thinking. What does my singleness say about me? Am I a neurotic bitch? A crazy cat lady? A commitment-phobe in dire need of psychoanalysis? Well, not exactly. After some deliberation I can see that I'm complex and a little fruity, like a good Shiraz. I'm also independent and intelligent. I'm successful and financially stable. And I believe that a good, solid, and positive relationship is worth waiting for. As Mae West once put it, "Marriage is a great institution. But I'm not ready for an institution yet." Photo credit: Pauline Clarke