I hid this weekend, as much as I am capable of doing. After running my errands on Friday, I settled—yes, settled—into a weekend of reading. Yes, there were a number of parties I was supposed to attend, and I managed to go to two, but I really needed a weekend to myself. So Perl and I laid out a blanket in the backyard and I began my adventures reading Katie Crouch’s “Girls in Trucks” while Perl stalked unsuspecting squirrels.
I’m not sure how I heard about the book. I assumed it was mentioned on NPR, but I can’t seem to find a…no, I thought I knew where, but I can’t seem to find the reference. Well, when I saw it in the bookstore Friday, I used some of my store credit to get it. And it was worth every sold book.
It is about relationships. The sexual relationships between women and men, and the societal relationships between southern women. Katie introduced me to Sarah Walters as a child in Cotillion class and follows her until she is 35 and still single.
I won’t tell you how the story goes, you should read it for yourself, but I will tell you how familiar the storyline seemed to me. It wasn’t my exact life, but I could relate to Sarah’s trials and tribulations of dating. The flings. The love of her life that she just can’t release, no matter how bad he is for her. Trying to settle. It is all there.
But it is the settling part that is most interesting to me. The other day, a friend sent me a link to an article in The Atlantic by Lori Gottlieb titled “Marry Him!” and it is subtitled, “The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough.” My friend has been anticipating my reaction, and I think it is because he believes that I will start ranting and raving about how this woman is a lunatic for writing this article.
Because she is right.
And I started to believe her with this paragraph.
To the outside world, of course, we still call ourselves feminists and insist—vehemently, even—that we’re independent and self-sufficient and don’t believe in any of that damsel-in-distress stuff, but in reality, we aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle, we’re women who want a traditional family. And despite growing up in an era when the centuries-old mantra to get married young was finally (and, it seemed, refreshingly) replaced by encouragement to postpone that milestone in pursuit of high ideals (education! career! but also true love!), every woman I know—no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure—feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.
She goes on to say that yes, there are exceptions but if you are the exception at 30, then by the time you are 35, you will understand.
As much as I love my life, as much as any number of people are jealous of all the crazy things I do, I would give it up in a moment for kids and a husband. For someone to help me make the day to day decisions and endure the monotony, and for kids who would make that monotony all worth while.
I’d do anything that is, but settle.
She continues on to recommend settling when you are younger. Before you have kids. Before you lose your looks. Before the pool of eligible bachelors dwindles to just kindling. If having a family is important to you, then knock it out of the way before it is too late.
And I can’t disagree. She makes some fabulous points. One of which is that she and her friend went to a sperm bank to have their children. So now, they are single moms. At least if they had settled, even if they had gotten divorced, then they could ship the kid to Dad’s once in a while and have a night off. Not so when you decide to do it all on your own.
So why won’t I settle if I agree with her view? Because it is too late for me. I’m past the settling years. I’ve resigned myself to knowing that I probably will never have children of my own. I might get to share parenting of someone else’s children, and I will always adore my kids from school, but I probably won’t ever pass down my own genes. My brother, Sparkles, has admitted that this has been his plan all along to keep me single and childless so that I will spoil his children as if they are my own and pay for their college education.
I’m also working against a stereotype. As I read once in Maureen Dezell’s Irish America: Coming Into Clover, being the oldest female in an Irish family, we are known to be headstrong and independent. And this often leaves us unmarried. I’m difficult, and I know it. And I need someone who can deal with that. As much as many guys would like to try, very few have succeeded. Some think that I’m broken and they need to fix me, which just pisses me off. Others let me get away with shit because they can’t tell me no. I can’t tell you exactly what I need, but I know it when I see it. There have been a couple guys that I’ve truly loved. These are the guys that make me soft. Expose my feelings. And it isn’t because they treat me like a girl instead of one of the guys. It is because there is something about them that makes me want to expose my vulnerabilities. That is rare.
And I know you all think I’m too picky, but I’m really not. I don’t let my brain make the decision when it comes to love. One of the last guys that I fell for is nothing like what my brain thinks I should find. But my heart says yes. That is why it is so hard to explain who I’m looking for—my brain doesn’t know.
One last quote from the article. Who can argue with this?
But then my married friends say things like, “Oh, you’re so lucky, you don’t have to negotiate with your husband about the cost of piano lessons” or “You’re so lucky, you don’t have anyone putting the kid in front of the TV and you can raise your son the way you want.” I’ll even hear things like, “You’re so lucky, you don’t have to have sex with someone you don’t want to.”
The lists go on, and each time, I say, “OK, if you’re so unhappy, and if I’m so lucky, leave your husband! In fact, send him over here!”
Not one person has taken me up on this offer.