Muse for All

the course of daily musings never did run smooth.

Month: November, 2014

Why I need not be defined by marital status

Today, I had a student come up to me and the conversation went as such:
Her: Who you be married?
Me: Pardon?
Her: Who you be married?!
Me: I am not married.
Her: WHY?
Me: Because you do not need to be married.

When I was younger, the song Independent Woman by Destiny’s Child was just a song I sung and danced to without much care. Now, the lyrics ring true to my own life:
“The shoes on my feet, I bought ’em / The car I’m driving, I bought it / The house I live in, I bought it / ’cause I depend on me.”

Even taking a stroll down the senior hallway and having a peak into their classroom, listening to their discussion, I hear things that amaze me:
“You need to get married. That’s your purpose in life.”
“What do single people do, alone? Are they happy? Isn’t it boring?”
“I am going to get married, eventually.” “Why?” “Because that’s what you do.”

How is it that we have progressed towards eliminating so many old-school mentalities but this is one that is still instilled in the minds of the young? How does a 12 year old feel that your purpose in life is to get married and not to travel the world, be involved in social justice, succeed in a career they’ere passionate about, love without expectations…

My heart is tied down. I have a love that I want to grow old with, we have started a family of animals, we live happily as a pair, but is the big wedding a requirement? No. Who do we need to prove our love to? Why must we make a spectacle of our union? Why is the formality of an expensive ceremony, followed by the Facebook photos to rub in the faces of the masses, close up shots of a diamond ring, or thousands of dollars spent on a single day the only way to truly solidify our commitment to one another? Who is the marriage for?

I see many make a spectacle of marriage. I see many turn marriage into a social media show, a rushed dance as a way to prove to the world that a couple is “serious” or “for real”, an attempt to perform a song and dance for the masses that takes stressful months to prepare and hours to complete. And for who? And for what purpose?

I always say that so long as marriage is a privilege and not a human right, it’s not something I really want to partake in. One day, I will have a very inexpensive white dress where I will perform commitment rituals in front of very few close family members, but again, who is that for? I will partake in this when it feels like it is for the “us” and the “us” alone, not for people saying, “When are you going to get married, already?” or for the individuals who feel marriage is the only public way to proclaim your love to the masses. There is nothing personal about that. There is nothing intimate about it. There is nothing loving about it. It’s a show, and no matter how much money you invest in it, that’s all it will ever be. And if you get married on pretense, your marriage will also just be a play on a stage.

I don’t need marriage to define me. Marriage is not an aspiration or a goal. It is not a stepping stone to greater things. It is not a relationship climax. For me, eventually it will be a mutually agreed upon event that doesn’t represent something greater or more true but a personal celebration of love, on our own comfortable terms, when we feel the need to go forth with it. Like a grand anniversary that we choose to share with those closest to us.

I am an independent woman. I do not need marriage to feel complete. I do not need a man to hand me his name. I do not need to bear four of his children in four years so he can present me around like a luxury car to all his friends, posting photos on social media, “Look, life completion, be happy for me/jealous of me/envious of my life.” My life is not a show. I am not a prize to be paraded around. I am an self sufficient, self-made woman. I own my house, I own my car, I adopted animals that I take care of and who rely on me, I feed myself, dress myself, created a career for myself, made an image for myself that does not include a marital status and doesn’t need a marital status to improve it.

I think parents should worry about their children growing up with a purpose to be good people who are happy and feel self-sufficient and successful, not whether or not they will be married.

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Pets are not Presents

Anyone who knows me knows I am a passionate animal lover, saving mice from the hallways of my work, bunnies from abandoned nests, and birds with injured wings. They also know I am an advocate for animal adoption whether it be for a puppy, kitten, dog, cat, bird, bunny, guinea pig or more. But one thing I am not an advocate for is giving someone  you love an animal as a gift for the Holidays.

Owning an animal is not a walk in the park; take it from me, owner of two dogs, a cat and a bird. Animals are living, breathing things with emotions and needs. They are not a disposable object like a doll off a WalMart shelf. Getting an animal is a process that should be thought out and considered by all members of a family.

By giving an animal as a gift, you are immediately associating the animal with something that is as temporary and disposable as a Christmas Fruitcake. You are not allowing the individual you are getting the animal for consider the animal that is best for them (all owners should meet and interact with an animal prior to owning it because compatibility is not something you can force) and putting a financial burden on them against their will.

Owning animals is a stressful thing and by no means a clean and easy one. By gifting an animal, you are forcing an individual into a stressful situation that they did not agree to (despite the excitement they might have in the moment which blurs the reality of animal ownership).

Often, after the initial excitement of receiving the animal, the accidents, the cleaning of cages and the expenses of vet visits often shakes people up, and the stress becomes too much to handle. Sometimes, it just ends up being that the animal and the individual simply aren’t compatible; maybe they are too high energy for their busy lifestyle, perhaps there are unexpected allergies, or maybe they simply don’t have the time to spend with it. There are many factors that could mess up a parent-animal relationship, and giving a pet as a present increases those chances.

So many animals who end up in a shelter were a “gift” gone wrong. So many people give pets as gifts without truly recognizing the responsibility, the time, the money, and the potential chaos that comes with pet ownership. Some people receive these gifts with love and excitement, only to find that it is way too much to handle or simply doesn’t work for them.

Yes, the thought of a fuzzy animal sitting by your Holiday fire is a warm and beautiful thought, and one that certainly increases adoption and sales of animals, but it’s not one that truly puts the pet first, as all animals should be in these situations. So if you’re considering adding an animal to the family (and I definitely suggest adoption; you can ask me more about this if you have questions about it), wait for the “holiday shopping rush” mindset to fade, discuss it as a family or with the individual who you think might be interested, and go together to meet the animal, weigh the options, consider the financial and stress impact, and then make a decision. Pets are live, pets are precious, pets should not be presents.