A little story: My grandmother was widowed when she was in her 40s. Initially her friends consoled her. However, after a month or so they stopped inviting her over, because it was awkward to have a single person at an event with couples. They thought she was going to steal their husbands. They thought my grandmother was going to steal their husbands! If you have ever met my grandma, you know such an idea is nonsense. She didn’t want to steal her friends’ husbands; she hasn’t dated anyone since my grandfather. But she was still suspect, as a single person. So not only did she lose a husband, she lost her friends too.
What is WRONG with the world? Is every single person out there obligated to be on the prowl, hunting for other single people? Is it so awful to be single? What if someone doesn’t want to be married?
Not only is it insulting to imply that someone isn’t complete until they’re in a stable couple, it’s also potentially very damaging. It puts pressure on people to find their bashert immediately–and that leads people to mistake mr. or ms. good enough for The One They’re Supposed To Marry. People commit too fast, and then they’re miserable for years. Or, they screw up first dates by answering questions like, “do you like ice cream?” with non ice cream related statements, like, “I want to name our first child Shmuel.”
Some people are widowed. Some people are single. Some people are in loving, respectful polyamorous relationships. Some people are asexual. Some people have relationships that only last a few years. Some people are divorced and happy. And some people just don’t want to get married!
If people are happy, isn’t that good enough? Why do we have to insist that they pair off and legally wed before they get invited to the grown up table? What happens if we just invite our friends over one at a time? Will the whole world collapse?
As I enter into the privileged world of marriage, I have a lot of joy regarding my own situation–but I have some deep qualms about the institution as a whole. I think we as a community should also congratulate people on states of happiness that aren’t about love and coupledom.
With that in mind, I have a modest proposal. I would like to challenge people in my community to validate non-wedding moments with big fancy parties and registries and blenders and presents with fancy engraved initials. Yes, I’m serious. Why not? So, without further ado, I present to you 12 opportunities to validate grownuphood by having a giant party that isn’t a wedding.
12 Non Marriage Adulthood Moments:
1. getting a job with good medical insurance
2. finishing a thesis
3. publishing an article (NOT on wikipedia)
4. discovering you can no longer have caffeine after 2pm
5. entering your 6th year of graduate school
6. publishing a story
7. paying a down payment for a condo
8. hosting your first seder
9. discovering you are lactose intolerant
10. publishing a book
11. forgiving your parents for the years you spent in therapy
12. paying off half of one’s debt
There are many more opportunities we can think of to celebrate adulthood; these 12 are just a start. But they’re a good start–from them, I’m sure we can think of all sorts of ways to celebrate adulthood that don’t involve pressuring people into traditional marriage. Hooray for flexibilitiy! Hooray for love without pressure! Hooray for more parties!
Lag B Blog, day 18.
P.S. Feel free to comment with more grown up moments worth celebrating!