Monday, December 2, 2013

Not married? No Children! Oh My!

By Norma

When I was a teenager the expectation was that it was alright to get an education but this was to occur while you were waiting to get married.  The marriages and engagements started by the end of high school and later, most of the women in my nursing class were engaged by the time we graduated.  I came close! My fiancĂ© wanted to get married right away, but I wanted to get my degree. Since he did not want to wait, we parted.

I was a enthusiastic pupil and had always been encouraged by my parents to study. This was not the norm amongst my peers! My relatives continued to ask about boyfriends, engagement parties and weddings were a nightmare of veiled looks and questions.
The next big question was - didn't I want children?  This did have me questioning my own motivation.  But...  I guessed that if I did marry, children would likely follow.  But... did I really want that?  I have felt judged, particularly as time went on and I didn't marry or have children. I could sense that behind the questions looks there were other thoughts- is there something wrong with her since she can't get a man?  Is she just too picky?       

Feminism, MS magazine,and the "the pill", were front and center during my 20's and 30's.  In some ways that made my situation more tenable. At least there were discussions and forums on marriage and motherhood and I didn't have to feel so alone being single and childless.  There were other women out other women like me!  There were even women brave enough to admit that motherhood was not for them.
I have had my share of relationships, some brief, some long term. My common law marriage has lasted 25 years.  Marriage was not an issue for either of us and we were beyond the parenthood age when we met. My career in Nursing has spanned 46  satisfying years. I have reached the age of 70 sans marriage or offspring.

Oh my!


  1. This post reminds me of another vanguard female of your time... Rachel Carson. There is a lovely biography of her and her thirst for learning called: The Gentle Subversive. What strikes me is that you both saw that learning and growth, being helpful to the future as the highest value. While many of her peers in school made it their goal to find a husband she could not abide by it... This is a quote from page 25 of the book and your blog post reminded me of it:

    “superficiality, intellectual laziness and moral indifference were qualities Rachel condemned. For her, the waste of one’s intellectual gifts was akin to the “reckless squandering of natural resources”

    So often we overtly or inadvertently encourage girls, women and, I fear, men and boys too today, to dismiss their curiosity, minimize their intellectual pursuits in order for more shallow pursuits like consumerism or "feel good" fixes.

    Thanks for this honest and refreshing post

    1. Sorry, was trying to add a link to the book... here is one that might work

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It's important to hear about experiences like yours. So many of us have struggled with these questions!

  3. I think that was a beautful story, of how she wanted to learn, instead of getting married and having family right away.