My friend last week said, “Ministries and media often focus on families and motherhood, which sends the message that women can’t fulfill their purpose outside these roles”.
After interacting with so many 20-Something women, I’ve come to realize that we are a mess. No one knows what they want to do with their life; their jobs are meaningless, their relationships pointless, their sense of self haphazardly stretched. My friend may have pointed out one of the main culprits: we teach women they don’t really have a purpose until they become a wife or a mother. In church, we hear all these sermons about “serving your husbands” and “loving your children unconditionally”. We grow up watching t.v. shows where the mom’s are cooking, cleaning, and solving civil disputes for their family members (even shows like Modern Family perpetuate these stereotypes). We even receive these lessons through social media–I can’t tell you how many “cookie exchange” party pictures that popped up, and I feel like, if I’m not participating in these wifey-motherly events, I’m missing out on a grand experience. If these are the only messages we are receiving, when we look at the fact that the average marrying age is 28, that leaves us single-ites a very, very long time to feel purposeless, void, and unimportant.
But, alas, there is hope. As an unmarried, un-childed woman, there are plenty of other JUST AS important roles I can fill:
Social coordinator: One of my most favorite things to do in the world is watch people connect. I’m naturally very social and I love to make friends. In Victorian times, this was important, because the man served as the outer center, and the woman, the inner center; my job is to make sure my husband dresses appropriately for his company party, that he responds to that e-mail in a socially acceptable way, and that the gift he gives his mom (which is really from me) is meaningful, and wrapped neatly. However, just because I don’t have a husband doesn’t mean the social coordinator roles slips; perhaps I play social coordinator for my group of friends, and I put myself in charge of making sure we get together once a month. Same very important, meaningful role; different set of people.
Party Planner: As a female, I’m wired to be organized and creative. Our Pinterest feed will flood with pins of “creating a pirate themed birthday party for your 6 year old” and “Elf on the Shelf ideas”. That all sounds really fun, and just because I’m not a “wife” or “mother” doesn’t mean I can’t fulfill my creative itch in some other venue. Just last week, I went to shop for bridesmaid dresses for my friend. She wants everyone to wear different hues, and we decided which bridesmaid would get which shade based on their place in the line up (I mean, you want to make sure nothing is too detracting in the pictures). It’s like planning a really fun birthday party for my child, except my friend reaps the benefits.
Protector: I watch shows, like Once Upon a Time, where Snow tries to protect Emma from all physical and emotional harm’s way; that’s Snow’s role as her mother. But, just because I don’t have a child to protect does not mean I can’t serve that purpose somewhere else. I never realized how protective I was until my brother got into a fight in the McDonald’s parking lot a few years ago (don’t worry, he actually turned out to be fine). As soon as I got word, I dropped everything I was doing, hopped in my car, and drove to the parking lot; whoever beat him up was going to hear from HIS SISTER. I also get overly protective of the girls on my dance team, my friends, my friend’s siblings, Oscar Wilde, etc. Or, perhaps its just my dogs that I’m protecting. That’s a pretty important role too.
Nurturer: There’s no doubt that women have some kind of innate inclination towards taking care of people. It could be culturally constructed, but Oma always knew how to warm my hands after playing in the snow all day, how many jelly beans I could eat before my stomach got upset, how fast to trot the pony before I got too scared. I certainly do not have a grand-daughter to trot around on the Shetland Pony, but I certainly carry these nurturer tendencies into my unmarried life; when a student needs a band-aid, my sister is sick with the flu, the dog gets stung by a bee, someone slips on the ice–playing the nurturer role is still very necessary.
Counselor: A couple summers ago, I spoke with some parents who were sharing how the car ride home from activities always turns into a counseling session; this is when their children talked about being bullied, or their self-esteem declining, or what they should do about the boy they liked–and the mom would play counselor. People need all different kinds of counselors in their lives, and just because we don’t have a daughter to chauffeur around doesn’t mean we still don’t hold a very important role in listening to others. I personally live in la-la land, I’m a dreamer, and I’m really good ignoring the harsh realities of the world. So, if you need that kind of counseling, step right in. Other times, people need a good, sturdy kick in the rear, and they need someone to give them a reality check. They need someone to tell them to stop spending money, that their relationship is abusive and going downhill, and that they probably need to shave their legs…the great thing is, each of us fills one of these counselor roles differently; we do not need to be THEM ALL, but that, at some point in our lives, we will need one of each kind.
(To prevent this post from being 10 pages long, I’ll let you fill in more just as important un-married, un-childed roles–feel free to comment with your thoughts).
I’m the kind of feminist that believes, while women should always be given equal opportunities, we are biologically constructed and hormonally wired differently than men. Should women be allowed to enter combat? Absolutely. I believe women should have the option to do whatever they want. Would I choose to enter combat? No, because it took me at least three days to get over the chicken massacre in my backyard. Should women be allowed to propose to their husband? Absolutely. Every relationship is different, so there’s no dictating how customs should be handled. Would I want to propose to my future husband? No, because he probably can afford a nicer ring than I can (I’m a teacher, remember?) Should women be allowed to hold political positions? Absolutely. I’ve met just about the same amount of brilliant, hard working, able-bodied women as I have men. Would I want to hold a political position? Perhaps someday (I like to argue, and I’m always right).
…No, my options should not be limited because of being a woman, but I do believe my experience of the world is different than a man’s, and therefore, my roles will be different, but also just as important, whether I’m married, un-married, I have children, I have no children. Like, my room mate hits a golf ball WAY harder than I will ever be able to. My brother will ALWAYS be able to withstand the cold longer than I can. And, my dad thinks much more logically than I do. But, I’m also better at matching, looking at the fine details, reading social interactions.
So, just because I’m not married, and I don’t have any children, does NOT MEAN I’m not important. I’m just as important, and just as necessary for a society to revolve.