Typically, I’ll write here on Medium about topics that are interesting to me, but it’s rare for me to write about something that’s intensely personal. I decided to finally take the training wheels off and just go all in.
So — what’s the “it” that I’m over? Marriage and child pressure. Oddly enough, the pressure isn’t coming from my boyfriend, or ANY members of my family. Instead, it’s coming from people who are my friends. Mind you, not every friend and not all the people who have known me forever. The age of the friendship varies, but the message is the same: when are you getting married? Why does it seem like you’re “settling” with the guy you’re dating? You’re young and don’t you want everything you DESERVE? Don’t you want to have kids? Doesn’t your MOM want to see little Yvonnes running around? Then, of course, there is my all time FAVORITE: you’re not getting any younger, you know. Yes, because reminding me of my impending and eventual DEATH is the single best way for me to become motivated to hurry up and pump out kids tomorrow…it’s like these people who are commenting don’t know me at all.
Some backstory before I continue on to my point: I wasn’t raised to sit around dreaming of the fairy tale wedding and the prince on the white horse. My mother worked because my father suffered from cancer and couldn’t go out to earn a living. Yup — the big C dictated our lives and how they were going to function for the better part of 12 years of my childhood. Specifically, he had multiple myeloma, which is a particular bitch of a cancer to have.
Basically, your body is producing both blood and cancer cells at the same source: your bone marrow. The cancer cells are formed in your white blood cells, or plasma, which makes fighting infections like the common cold extremely difficult (sometimes impossible) without proper treatment. At later stages, this type of cancer can destroy the bones and lead to fractures. That’s if the cancer doesn’t spread to other weakened parts of the body first. In my father’s case, the cancer went to his liver before he passed.
During the years prior to his passing, I was exposed to doctors and chemo and emergency all night hospital runs…things that other people don’t see usually until much later in their lives. Needless to say, I had heavier topics on my mind than the typical young American-born female. Other girls were all into Malibu Barbie and the Dream House; I was reading old magazines in hospital waiting rooms to pass the time.
Now, add to this situation the fact that I was raised by the stereotypical strict Asian father who didn’t even want me to look in a guy’s general direction. Hell: this is the same man who made me quit my role as the boys’ wrestling team equipment manager and stat tracker when I was in seventh grade. When my contemporaries were figuring out dating, flirting and the like, I had to be head down, studying and getting good grades or face my father’s predinsone-fueled wrath. By the way: go look up predinsone and its side effects when you have a moment and you’ll get a glimpse of what we had to live with on a daily basis. Since my mother had to be the breadwinner due to my father’s health condition, I didn’t have an “out”…it was my father’s way or the highway.
So — given my upbringing, it’s tough for me to feel any kind of sentiment or “pull” toward marriage and bearing children. Instead: I doubled down on what I was good at, which was school, learning and writing. Along the way, I developed some public speaking skills, television production credits, computer and technical skills and started to get a better grip on investing and finance. I got better at cooking after setting a kitchen on fire (once) and had the opportunity to start visiting other countries besides my own.
So here’s my question: why in the fuck does none of that matter unless I’m married with kids? All of these people giving me grief are essentially saying that I’m somehow not complete or missing out. And yet — aren’t these the same people who will just as easily say that their kids, husband or wife are driving then up a wall and pissing them off? Before you cry sexism or double standard, know that my boyfriend is also getting it in the neck from his family on this same subject. Having gone through some shit for himself, he’s not exactly racing to the altar and I can’t say that I blame him for that attitude toward the subject. Getting your heart ripped out and stomped on by the one person you entrusted it to is absolute Hell to recover from and it takes time.
Here’s the dirty little secret about me that I don’t think any of them understand: their opinions and concerns are not the arbiters of my life. And if they want to STAY friends with me, they would do well to back off. I am ALWAYS, 100%, unequivocally and without hesitation going to keep “doing me”. Everyone else is totally free to “do them” and go with what makes them happy. My happiness is central to the core of my being. It has never come from “owning stuff” or “other people”. I own it, I control it and I choose how to deploy it.
This means: if I get to a place in life where I want to get married to the guy and the guy wants to get married to me, then we go for it, in the way that we want to do so. If that never, ever happens, it’s not the end of my world. Same with kids…growing up in my particular neighborhood, I got to see a LOT of unwed mothers and the struggles and stigma they went through. I got to see a lot of kids whose parents didn’t go all in on being parents to them. I’m the type of person who would never want to phone in something as important as being a parent and raising a child. I would want to be in a position where I felt I was giving a child their best possible opportunity to make something of their lives. Given my current set of responsibilities with being a caretaker to my mother, who is elderly, right now, I can’t see where I would be able to be all in as a parent. That may change in the future, but this is the situation as it is and I’m at peace with my life as it is right now.
Apparently, being content is overrated. We always have to keep grabbing for the brass ring and get more because what we have “can’t possibly” be enough. I think some people are confusing my contentment for a lack of ambition. I’m always pulling at both ends of the spectrum, even if it seems like a contradiction. There are times where I have to flip on the afterburners and go hard after something I want to achieve. At the same time, I’m pretty happy with the major things of importance to me in my life, so I’m not going to try and fix what isn’t broken. That, to me, would be a waste of energy and effort that I could spend somewhere else.