Monday, July 26, 2010

Family

A few weeks ago I attended a dreaded interstate "celebration of family", one focused on my brother and his pregnant partner, and the fact that they were announcing, to the "family" that they were, indeed, pregnant. I should, perhaps, have popped in here to this quiet, family-free space to think aloud about it sooner, but I needed to sit alone with my thoughts (and the houseplants (and a whisky)) for a bit.

Now, nothing makes me happier than the fact that my brother - long unhappy and troubled - has met such a vibrant, delightful woman and that they are, at long last, procreating. The news has made my mother in particular ecstatic as a baby brings a whole bundle of new shopping opportunities and potential baby-and-grandmother outings. The planning has already begun. I too am happy, because despite the Barren nature of the writing here, I think children - and having them in your life in some capacity - are vital to a good life. I'm looking forward to being an aunt immensely.

Halfway through the (microwaved) lunch, my brother dropped to one knee and proposed in front of her HUGE family (and our much smaller one). The Honest Woman comments that followed were appalling, but to be expected (for some reason, vast amounts of people seem to think that marriage makes a woman honest and insist upon repeating it, in joking fashion, ad nauseum).

What I wasn't expecting was the following comments, made to me, by two incredibly lovely women who would be devastated to know I was upset by them.

"At last", they said, "your parents have something to be happy about".

I took the comment on the chin - it was my brother's moment, afterall - but it smarted. These women ARE lovely people, but their experience of life is limited; small and very, very suburban. My partner may not have been invited (another post, that...) but we have been happily co-habiting for 9+ years. We are interesting, we are well-travelled, we are creative and can converse with anyone and everyone equally well. To think that all of that is irrelevant - and that out-moded models of behaviour are all there is to life - is absurd.

My question is this: why do we women do this to one another?