on marriage and motherhood


Wow. Serious topics today. Far too serious for a sunny Sunday morning, but that’s the way it goes sometimes, hm?
First, on being a wife. I’ve been doing some thinking about this lately, since two of my girlfriends are getting married in the next year or so (and not to each other, in case you wondered). They are better prepared for the event than I was, or at least they seem to be. They’re both older than I was, and that’s a very positive factor. I’ve noticed over the years that women tend to come into their own closer to the end of their twenties or the beginning of their thirties. They begin to develop a sense of self. They know better what they want from life. They become established, much in the same way we’ve always thought of men becoming “established” – financially, and in their careers, which I think is very useful before settling down.I’ve wondered what I would say, if asked, about how to avoid falling into the trap that ends in divorce. I haven’t been asked. I don’t think I will; young women heading down the road to marriage are in some ways like teenage boys driving fast cars. They feel invincible. They believe in the shatter-proof strength of their bond with their lovers. They don’t like to think about divorce. It’s not going to happen to them. The people they know who have been divorced – well, they just didn’t make the right choices. Probably should have never married in the first place. That’s not going to happen to them. But I think about what my response would be anyway. And I think my advice would be this: pay attention. Be ever mindful of the fragility of relationships. Nurture, water and feed every day. And most importantly, dig out those weeds regularly. Otherwise they’ll grow and take over the whole garden.
With these themes in mind, I share two excellent articles. One is recent, the other I’ve had bookmarked for ages. My So-Called Marriage weighs in on being a wife, what traps lay dormant but just waiting for an opportunity from the day you don the title “wife”. The other, slightly less upbeat story, Diary of a Divorce, is a haunting journal of one woman going through separation and eventually divorce. To say I identify with both of these stories would be an understatement. If only I’d known when I was younger and just getting married that these feelings and traps are ones that many divorced women could identify with.The only other piece of advice I’d give to a woman getting married today is to read a book about divorce. Sounds crazy. But it’s the closest thing you’ll ever get to a manual on what-to-look-out-for. When you’re young and never-married, you don’t know where the traps are. It’s easy to assume that you’ll never have those problems based solely on the strength of your love and the quality of your friendship with your partner.I wish my friends the best in their new endeavours.
Moving on, let’s talk about babies. Or maybe, let’s not. I’ve been ambivalent on the topic for a long time. Part of me wants very much to meet a special man and settle down again and make a baby. To share my life with a little person as well as a big one, through colds and fights and playing and trips to Disneyworld. The other part of me thinks I’m just not selfless enough to be able to do it. I like my life. I like having free time. I like reading books and going for walks and staying out late if that’s what I feel like doing. Grabbing a drink with a friend after work or sleeping in late on a Saturday. I am all too aware of the level of responsibility needed to have children. I don’t know if I’m up for signing a lifelong contract. Many people aren’t comfortable with hearing from that part of me. Baby Makes . . . ? takes a good stab at describing not only the ambivalence, but also the reactions of others to that ambivalence.
Marriage and divorce and babies, oh my.
Too deep for a Sunday morning. Time to grab a book and sit on the balcony. Ta-ta.

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Vikki McKay
By Vikki McKay

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