After years of silence, a friend’s mother blurted out the other day, “You decided you’ll never get married?”
This friend turned 40 early this year, and during her late 20s (when, apparently, women are either supposed to have been married or on the verge of marriage) and throughout her 30s, her mother never mentioned, even insinuated, her single status in spite of her getting on in years, or so to speak.
This friend could not believe how lucky she was that her mother, in spite of belonging in a generation that believes one’s ultimate purpose in life is to get married and bear children, had decided to mind her own business.
Little did she know that her mother had employed all the willpower she possessed to bite her tongue until her resolve crumbled and she couldn’t do it anymore. Now this friend is under the pressure that women of “a certain age”, whatever society they come from, face – to get married and bear children.
Times have changed, though. Women are getting married later in life; some are not interested in getting married; while there are others who, even though interested in marriage, are not interested in having children. And then there are those who neither want marriage nor children. But society won’t let them be – not when they refuse to conform.
When I was 28, my father visited me. I’d been living on my own for four years, going on five, and would periodically visit my parents and maybe spend the night then return to my house the following day, even though I spent the entire Christmas holiday at home and would take off a day before the new year to ensure that I ushered it somewhere more fun.
Anyway, I had no idea that my father was worried about my single status and wondered why I had never brought anyone, (read potential husband) home, yet the 30s were beckoning. Anyway, I got to find out that my being single was giving my parent sleepless nights when he visited me one day. He had never shown interest in finding out where I lived, and had therefore never visited me in those four years, during which I’d moved houses thrice.
As I was saying, he finally visited, and I was glad that he wasn’t coming to my first house, which was a single unit that served as the sitting room, kitchen, bedroom and sometimes the bathroom when the shared ones outside were blocked and waterlogged.
After having lunch and engaging in some chitchat, something that didn’t take more than two hours, he told me that he was leaving, but before he left, he prayed. The prayer was going well until he asked God to give me my “own home”.
Where I come from, that means a husband and children. My eyes immediately popped open with alarm and panic. I mean, there I was, unperturbed by my singleness, quite happy to live freestyle and have no burden of responsibility towards anyone other than myself.
There and then, this pressure to get married, which is synonymous with our judgemental and myopic society, began to pile up. I was in a panic; in a panic because not only was there no boyfriend but there was also no potential boyfriend.
My carefree, contented single life ended that day with my father’s prayer. Was I “behind schedule”? What if I failed to get married? Would my father be disappointed in me? What would people say?
Such fears should have no place in today’s world, but I have a feeling that 100 years from now, women will still be under pressure to get married and bear children.