Monday, July 26, 2010


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?


Another Outspoken Female said...

And not to mention that you are a parent, a step parent, and that is not considered valid to those women either. Perhaps a stepmother, just the mere concept, is inherently threatening to such women, that someone else could co-raise your child and love it too, your possession.

The saddest thing is they don't get any lives different to their own and that cycle risks being perpetuated with the next generation.

Lucy said...

Well, parent to one very scruffy dog...but yes, I think the fact that my choice of living is something they have no experience of is at the core of their (very real) concern. Step-parenting is no less rewarding; I love both of my step-sons in a unique way (good gawd, that sounds sinister...but you know what I mean...). Afterall, a child, as they say, is raised by an entire village. Who really cares if not all of the participants actually gave birth?

When I think about the richness of my life, I am saddened for them, too, simply because I know how interesting life can be. To pass up opportunities just 'cos they might be outside of my experience would have robbed me of many of the things that make me, well, me!

Boganette said...

That is so sad. And the worst thing is that it's common too. I've had similar remarks to me. When every conversation isn't about how my long-term partner hasn't made me an "honest woman" (as if I live my life just waiting desperately for him to do so *headdesk*) it's about how I'm upsetting my mother by not being pregnant. At baby showers I'm often asked if I'm pregnant even though (I think) I don't even look like I could possibly be pregnant. I have only had a few comments from men (though I definitely do get comments from them) but mainly it's the most insensitive nasty comments from women. Women who I think should know better. I don't know how to deal with it, I'm sorry I can't give you advice. For years I've tried different things - laughing it off, yelling, trying to educate them etc. And nothing really works.

Some women will always look at you and judge you and presume to know what is best for you. No matter how often my partner and I say we talk about marriage and are still deciding how we feel about it - there will be women who think I spend every sunset screaming on the beach wishing I wasn't wasting away "my best years" being unengaged and un-honest with an empty cob-webbed filled womb.

Just know you love your life and you're happy and they can't take that away from you.

Another Outspoken Female said...

Boganette, I'm having a Mrs Haversham moment with my "empty cob-webbed filled womb" now :)

K_Bom said...

Oh. OH! My heart just aches - unfortunately I can relate to equally as ill informed and thoughtless comments (I'm married but "denied" my family a wedding; am denying my parents grandchildren, etc).

All the very best to your brother - but also to you and your partner. I'm sure your union will continue to stand the true test of time!

Lucy said...

Hi Boganette - can I please say how incredibly happy seeing your rather wonderful screen name has made me this arvo?

The thing is that yes, I see myself as lucky and happy and...well, the list goes on. I've not had any comments from blokes yet, but you know, I'm pretty sure that they don't get that sort of conversation directed their way. On "looking pregnant"? Me three. Must be something about reaching a certain age. My next strategy is to tell them, as straight-faced as I can, how deeply hurtful those things are - wish me luck...

Hi K_Bomb, and all my best goes out to you! Thanks - it's good to know we're not alone in this.