I'll Be Just Fine

“It’s not like you’re ugly,” she says. “I don’t understand.” I’m in my mid-thirties and unmarried. It is source of contention between my mother and me. 

I will admit that I at one time I had a wedding binder where I kept magazine cutouts of dresses, flower arrangements and so forth. I imagined my groom as 90s Denzel Washington or Brad Pitt.  My groom and I would dance to Always and Forever by Heatwave and we’d live forever in a colonial with a bright painted yellow door. I threw that binder out nearly 20 years ago. 

My mother’s concerns about my dating seemed outdated to me. Although, when I think about her generation and the fact that she was married at like 25, I could see how her 37-year-old daughter not being married is strange to her. 

I remember shocking my mother when I told her that I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get married and how I believed I’d be better off if I didn’t. I’m at an age where almost all of my friends are married and little by little, I see how they have changed. They have to ask permission to go out, there are things they can no longer do, and of course, places that they are no longer allowed to go. Some have gone as far as only wearing their hair the way the husband likes, even if it is an inconvenience for them. 

In some ways I see this constant need to have me paired with a mate as telling me that my self-worth is tied to whether I’m in a relationship or not. I think the “concern” could be an unintentional way of continuing the notion that a woman isn’t enough without a man beside her. 

I finally had the chance to be in my first “adult” relationship. There were things about being a couple that were great, but I felt myself letdown by the reality of it. If you narrow it down, it’s just food and binge-watching Netflix. It wasn’t the romantic long stares and candlelight dinners I envisioned. Men born in the 80s would never be Cary Grant. 

This is not to say that I don’t get lost in black holes of romantic movies and wanting to go to a bridal shop just to see what I would look like in a rhinestone encrusted mermaid gown. I do, but I often wonder if I was conditioned to think that way.

Now, at 37, I don’t get as up in arms about what my mother, (or any other baby boomer for that matter), says anymore about my unmarried, childless status. Some of these women that have never lived on their own— these women barely tolerating their husband but stay because of the pension or they are afraid of the stigma of being divorced.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept, too.  I am over 30. I’m not married. I have a life with no script.  I am looking forward to checking off things on my bucket list and just enjoying life. 
My trajectory will never mirror theirs. 

Cherry Hill, NJ, USA. Pietra Dunmore is a writer, photographer, and cosmetologist. Pietra’s writing has appeared in Hippocampus Magazine, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Athena Talks,  Phati’tude Literary Magazine, Human Parts, and Let’s Mend.