“But each one must carefully scrutinize his own work [examining his actions, attitudes, and behavior], and then he can have the personal satisfaction and inner joy of doing something commendable without comparing himself to another. For every person will have to bear [with patience] his own burden [of faults and shortcomings for which he alone is responsible].” From The Bible, book of Galatians 6 verses 4 and 5
At one point in my life (a long, long, long time ago), I used to believe that the primary purpose of being a woman is to get married and have children. A few years afterward, my thinking metamorphosed to a bias against women who got married and started having children right out of their teens or in their early twenties. After all, I reasoned, what’s the point in getting an education when the end result is to grab a man, race to the altar and start breeding babies?
In essence, I used to expect other women to live according to my standards and thinking at different stages in my life (that is so twisted). I now know that this is not only unfair, illogical and wrong on so many levels, but it can also lead to depression and give one a nasty attitude (personal testimony).
Which brings me to my current pondering – why do we expect others to want what we want and be satisfied with the things we are satisfied with?
A few weeks ago, I was at the salon getting my hair done and trying as best as I could to look human and presentable what with my ongoing pregnancy ‘trials and tribulations’. I had to go to the toilet a few times as I was being sick and the ladies could hear me retching. They were very encouraging with their comments and all was well in salonville until I heard someone say…
“Pregnancy can be tough but it’s all part of being a woman and something every woman should experience”
Now you all know I love Jesus and I try to meditate on His words to keep me sane and nice such as – ‘Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry’ – Book of James 1 verse 19.
However, I couldn’t help but scream in my head “I disagree!” while simultaneously singing ‘Holy Spirit you are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere…’ (ain’t nobody got time for a shrieking looney Sista!)
I tried joining the conversation by explaining my two cents as to why I do not believe every one of the female species should/must bear children. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize the futility of washing the stripes off a Zebra, so I let it rest. Still, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at the prejudice and selfishness of it all.
I remembered when I turned 30 and the onslaught of ‘when are you getting pregnant‘ increased. I was reminded of my infernal ticking biological clock, I was reminded I had been married long enough (4 years at the time) and it was high time I started contributing my share to the multiplication of humanity, I was told over and over that I would make a great mother, I was told to consider my husband and marriage, and let’s just say that at the time, within my social circle, there was (and still is, cos’ folks are taking the Lord’s command to be fruitful and multiply very seriously! Mmhmm) an apparent baby boom that made not having a baby very obvious.
Interestingly, these reminders and encouragement (who are we kidding? I believe the correct term is ‘pressure’) was from well-meaning, good-natured friends who just automatically assumed I would/should want what they want or felt that the ‘standard’ they know and have accepted would be best for me as well (You all know I still love you. Mmuaahh!)
This brings to mind the popular debate on ‘can a woman have it all?’
I am of the opinion that the answer is Yes for the simple reason that ALL is relative. One woman’s ALL may be another woman’s SOME and the next woman’s NOT. Contrary to popular belief, ALL does not necessarily equate to a husband, some cute kids, a high flying career and a Nobel prize recommendation because you can give mother Theresa a run for her money in the ‘charity and Proverbs 31 woman’ department. In my travels and quest for knowledge (in my mind, I am Simbadini the sailor), I have observed that some women just want different life paths to what is normally expected of a woman. I have also observed that in our need to maintain social standing and acceptance, some women tend to consciously and subconsciously give in to socially acceptable norms and behaviour which may not be true to their individual self. Although, some would argue for the benefits of such shared societal behaviour (don’t ask me! I’m just a lowly mother-to-be).
Growing up, my father used to say ‘no one has the monopoly over knowledge’ to encourage us to study harder. Now that I have acquired some years (cos I ain’t old), I can say with conviction that what I know to be good for one goose, is not always good for another goose (sorry ladies, we are chickens for now).
Some women would like to be stay-home mums while others would like a career. Some would like to get married in their teens and 20s while some in their 30s and 40s or not at all. Some women would like a house full of children while others would like none (and for women who can’t have kids, let’s show some love rather than condemnation – just saying to my African brothers and sisters).
Being of the same gender, the same age group, the same social circle, the same marital status, the same race/nationality, or having the same abilities and interests, does not mean we want the same thing.
I guess the message is: in this big, beautiful and trouble-full world we live in, can we stop trying to push and squeeze women into the boxes called marriage, pregnancy and motherhood? The world needs all the help it can get. Let people do what they can without the chains of the limited, flawed, narrow and restrained convictions of our man-made standards.
‘If I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go‘
(Lyric excerpt from ‘How far I’ll go’ from Disney’s Moana)