Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Puppy Teeth: An Essay On Marriage And Motherhood from A Single Woman With No Children

Five fallen puppy teeth from my 4-month-old puppy, Sota

For approximately a decade and a half I obsessed over wanting to be married with children. Throughout college and young adulthood, this was my primary goal: Meet a Man, Get Married to Man, Have Children with Man.

Then, my thirties hit, and I snagged "a man" I thought I - no, I was certain I was going to marry. We did not get married. Then I met another man, and I married him.

We stayed married for five months. And then we unmarried. I moved from Chicago back to Minnesota after my father died and I (you guessed it) met another man. Planned on maybe / potentially / hopefully marrying him, too.

I did not marry that man. Meanwhile, I have had the joy of being an Aunt for almost five years. I have two toddlers and a newborn in my life (my brother's children) and time spent with them is sheer joy. I know that I am my Best Self when I am with those kids.

Now I am 35, soon to be 36 this Fall. One would think that it is time to try once again. Get the hubs, get the kids, buy the house, "settle down."

But...No. For the first time in my life, this - the tried and true path of 75% of my friends (Married with Children) is actually not what I want. 

Now, before you get hot under the collar ("she's just taking a break!" "she hasn't met the RIGHT man!"), hear me out.

Obviously I have this new puppy and, if you follow me on Social Media, yes, of course I post about her, make jokes about her, etc. etc. Having a dog is a great (huge responsibility) addition to my life. I've spent enough time with my nephews and niece, however, to know better (it is even borderline offensive to some) to compare pets to kids, so I won't. But I've also spent enough time assisting with the kids in my life to know that there are some parallels with the aspect of sacrifice and time spent raising any type of "baby." Sota is technically a baby (and she poops and pees and wakes up and loses teeth all over the place).

The reason I wanted to write this piece is because I wanted to pause and think through (aloud) what I really think about Married with Children and explore why it is that I so suddenly no longer want that life.

I am not sure if this is true, but it feels true, and it is a big, bold statement. It has nothing to do with my ex-husband, and it has everything to do with me...Are you ready for it?...

In general, I did not enjoy being married. And I think it has something to do with the c-word. No, not that one, this one: Control.

For the microcosm of a moment that I was married, I did not like it because I felt as though I lost Control. Lost Control over my Time, my Money, my Needs, my Dreams. 

One could argue that, had I spent more time getting to know my beloved ex before we married (we dated for about one month before tying the knot) that this would not have been an issue. However, I disagree. The other men I thought I was going to Marry with Children with I spent years dating, and I think the same issue then would be true that it is for me now which is:

Call me Selfish, call me Crazy (people do, occasionally, anyway), but I think that Marriage would stand in the way of me following my Dreams.

What are my dreams. I have several!

- Become Debt Free
- Become a Published Author
- Become a Professional Musician / Actor

Those are my Top 3 Dreams, but I have other, smaller and more immediate goals, like doing more Triathlons, traveling the world (again), and having more unusual hair colors (I finally ventured into Pink hair, as a start).

Since my father died, I have spent almost two years now living closely with Family, and, even though I am not married to them, I find myself holding back from some of these goals because, well, I think I lack Confidence in others' confidence in Me.

Part of that is due to my open-book policy on talking about Mental Health and my journey with Bipolar Type I Disorder. I have been fairly open about that for over a decade. Sometimes I regret that, and other times I am OK with it. Either way, there is no turning back now, cause, um, the Internet (this blog, Social Media, etc).

More and more I am venturing outside of myself to find Mentors who can help me discern what it is I am supposed to do with this life. Funny enough, most of these Mentors (Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, Leo Burnett) are dead, but, no matter. I think I need extra help in the mentorship department because, I am still growing and I am minus one parent. My Mother helps a ton, but she is only one person and she is also still on her own journey of what it means to be a "Widow" a "Mother" and a "Grandmother."

Despite this growing, mysterious, sometimes disturbing, other times liberating certainty that I want to remain a Single Woman for the remainder of my life, I feel uneasy.

This is sort of Norwegian of me, but I feel uneasy because I harbor a lot of Guilt.

List of Guilts:

- I Should Be Married with Children ("you'd be such a great mother, Suze!")
- I Feel Bad when I see Struggling Marriages
- I Feel Ashamed when I see Moms in Minivans (shouldn't I be driving my kids to dance recitals, too??)
- I Am Too Selfish with my Dreams

And I have no resolve for this List. I suppose that five years from now I could be 40, still writing on good old Brand New Sour Milk, and I could have two kids and a hubs. I suppose. But, I don't know. I do know that Sota will be 5 by then and hopefully not the holy terror she sometimes is today. At least by then she will have lost all her puppy teeth.

I do need to close with assuaging a tiny, daily guilt I have by telling you - You Married with Children men and women (and, of course! I am including Same Sex with and without kids) that I say BRAVO. I have a small sense of the sacrifices you make each and everyday in order to make your families WORK. Make it work, that is what you do.

With that, I am going to end with my new Girl, Coco. She, like Leo Burnett, has so many damn good quotes. 


I hope that you - whether single or married with eight children - continue to think for yourself aloud. Have a great day.

Susan Marie Andersen
aka Susan B. Agony
August 2, 2016

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