In just a few days I will celebrate the birth of my marriage or mourn its death, depending on how you look at it. It would have been ten years. Instead it’s been two and a half years since my divorce. I am reminded of this as the left turning signal on my vehicle is out. There are quite a few other things on my ‘honey do list’. I have learned to do a lot of them on my own but I refuse to clean the garage solo in the aftermath of last week’s snake sighting.
I remember the first time I ever took the trash out. I was the military wife of a deployed soldier. Having three brothers, I was always taught that there are male specific chores and female specific chores. Growing up with a mother and father in the household affords you that knowledge. When I married, I was fully educated on how to live with a partner. I was not educated on how to live alone.
No knock against my upbringing, but my parent’s generation, just as the ones before them were dedicated to the idea that daughters would one day grow up and marry. Checking divorced or single in response to questions that have no bearing on getting a root canal or pap smear was unheard of. I was prepped for washing dishes, cooking and decorating for the holidays. I was not prepared for mowing the lawn, changing a flat or cleaning the grill. Ironically, boys are taught to live alone. Mothers are often overheard advising their sons to learn how to cook and do laundry so they don’t have to depend on a woman. Girls are taught to depend on a man, be it their husbands or fathers. I am teaching my sons how to coexist in a healthy relationship as a respectful partner but I am also teaching them how to exist by themselves.
Gender roles have evolved. The family unit does not consist of a mom, a dad and two and a half kids any longer (which is morbidly disgusting because I often visualize the bloody upper torso of a toddler when I hear that term). But as much as things change, they stay the same. While it has become the norm to be single or a single mom, it still isn’t completely acceptable as evident by the stares in PTA meetings and doctor’s visits. I am often asked by teachers and the like “What is your last name.” Experience has taught them to ask. I live in a community where unmarried mothers are automatically assumed to be “baby mama’s” not divorcees. I think. Or maybe that’s my own insecurity talking out of discomfort from feeling like the only single mom in the play group or at the school play. I am sure there are others. The statistics say so. I am also sure that some of those wedded mothers wish they were not.
I have chosen to celebrate the union that brought forth two incredible little beings.