My Mother Forever Wins at Being Awkward
I’ve finally hit the age where my mother is certain that she can feel my biological clock ticking.
It’s taken a month to formulate the best possible rebuttal against my mother. But I think I’ve finally done it.
It’s Christmas Day, 2015. It also happens to be my only full day off before I leave for a twenty-one day adventure around Thailand. I’m anxious, rightfully so, as this is my longest trip abroad, my first time to SE Asia, and due to a series of events (or rather, one baby-making event) I am going solo.
As my mother is settling in, I mindlessly babble about 100% cotton tank-tops and chaffing and whether or not I should bring my American flag swimming suit. Yes, I know it’s not the smartest idea to show your patriotism while abroad, but it is, after all, the only swim top that holds the girls in. I need to be prepared for anything, ya know, in case beach volleyball, or kayaking, or even, Buddha forbid, a footrace against a pack of rabid dogs were to occur. (That was a real thing people told me to be worried about in the big cities of Thailand: roving gangs of wild dogs taking down innocent tourists after dark. It’s an absurd notion. Don’t believe everything you hear.)
She politely ignores everything I stream-of-conscious word vomited all over her and goes in for her own version of a takedown.
“Are there any marriage material men on the horizon currently?”
Now, as the 27 year-old daughter and granddaughter of fiercely independent women who broke the gender role mold before “gender role” was even a coined term; I was floored.
For me “settling down” is synonymous with “procreating”. I know that not every married couple feels the pressure to have children. But my mother’s question about “marriage material men” had an underlying tone. I know she edited her inquiry in her head. I think what she really wanted to ask was:
“When are you going to slow down long enough for a man to make an honest women out of you, and a grandma out of me?”
I think the key to my mother’s acute interest in the happs of my ovaries and marital status is that I’m 27. For her, 27 was the year she joined the nesters and the breeders. I guess I can see why she thinks it’s time that I join those ranks.
But that’s just not me. Yet.
It’s a multi-faceted issue that boils down to a few expensive hobbies and one personal flaw: traveling, motorcycles, and I’m growing increasingly selfish. All of those things smashed together equate to feeling like nobody is capable of keeping up with my chosen lifestyle.
Seriously though, it’s a really good life. Occasionally, it’s lonely. Usually, it’s liberating.
I’ve dated only one man that I thought I could marry. He inspired me to be a more kind, gracious person. But best of all, he fostered a love for motorcycles that isn’t really something you can explain. It’s a type of love that can be only understood through first-hand experience. It’s also not cheap. Even for someone who can perform their own maintenance, it’s a pricey endeavor. And only in Asia is it acceptable to ride a motorbike with an infant strapped to your chest.
Even during the most fleeting moments of thinking about having children, the first thing that comes to mind is how selfless one must become the moment they realize they’re growing a human. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to not be free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I know I’m not alone in that.
Frankly, I’m just learning how to be selfish, and it’s been amazing.
Spontaneous weekend trip to the Oregon Coast?
Day hikes that turn into overnights in a random small town in Northern Idaho?
Drive five hours on my Grandma’s birthday just to put flowers on her grave, then turn around and drive home?
I’m in, I’m in, one-hundred times over, I’m in.
Having a spouse or a child should not hold one back from our God-given gift of freewill, but it will change one’s priorities. And I’m just not ready to give up being my own number-one priority.
I know I’m not alone in that, either. It’s no secret that family dynamics have made a dramatic shift in the last twenty years. Women are choosing to start families later in life, and therefore, later in their careers. It’s truly genius. Why have a baby when you can spend all of your hard-earned extra money having fun? I actually remember learning in my 7th grade health class about the incredible financial burden that goes along with having a child.
My health-teacher-by-day-football-coach-by-night used the fear of having to spend monetary values that are completely lost on 12 and 13 year-olds as a segue into our next topic: Boater’s Education. It was far-fetched, but I think many of us were able to make the connection our teacher was trying to make. (Only in Idaho would you ever have a curriculum for one class include puberty, safe-sex practices and boater safety.)
I’m aggressively single. At Thanksgiving dinner a fee months ago I drunkenly said I was “…thankful for being a single, American, female…” That moderately bigoted rant came from either the raw emotions one gets from a full day of foodin’ and boozin’. Or it was me trying desperately to convince myself that being in my late 20's, childless and very single is truly a blessing. (Stand down psychology majors! I don’t care to know which one it is.)
My mom has officially become just as unsure as I am if there is anyone out there who will get me and my no-person-will-ever-be-allowed-to-stifle-my-creativity-and-spontaneity attitude.
Maybe I’ve been too busy going to all-women motorcycle campouts, getting lost in the woods with my best homegirls, racking up as many frequent-flyer miles as possible and being a professional bruncher to be slowed down by awkward first dates, and nice guys who end up being terrible kissers? (Dudes of the world: if she’s stopping to wipe your saliva off of her chin, you’re doing it wrong.)
Or maybe I’m just a complete commitment-phobe? Only time will tell if a globetrotting, scuba diving, motorbiking, lumber jack, powder hound, hippie made of grilled cheese sandwiches and puppy snuggles exists.
While I await this mythical man, I’m going to do my part to up the average age of women in youth hostels all over the world, and ride my motorcycle until I can’t feel my butt.