Just three weeks to go until, according to the PCUSA and the Young Clergy Women and any number of other organisations that care about such things, I am no longer young.
I used to wonder at what point I got to be a real adult. Just a normal adult. Because the church has programs and staff and resources for "young adults" and "older adults" and honestly it seemed for a long time like the gap in between was getting smaller and smaller.....mainly because our definition of "young" kept creeping up. It used to be 30, then 35, then 40...I'll leave you to figure out why we would need to still be considering 39 year olds who have been in their careers (or their calls, or parenting, or whatever) for nearly 20 years "young."
I have been looking forward to my 40s for a long time, in a way. Though perhaps what I mean is that I've been looking forward to not being considered a "young adult" for a long time. The way we continue to infantilise people (especially women, and especially women without partners or children) who own houses, have jobs, hold positions of power in communities, etc, is so frustrating. I think much of it has to do with white Western culture's fear of growing old. So people say things like "60 is the new 30"...well, you know what? I've said this before and I'll say it again: I hope not. Let's make 60 the new 60, and 40 the new 40. We are living through new times, so why not also live our age in a new way? Just because we reach a number doesn't mean we have to do what previous generations did at that number.
As a case in point: every firstborn in my family has given birth to their firstborn by age 23. This goes back for....a few generations at least.
I am a firstborn.
As you might have realised, I have not followed this particular trend in my family system.
In fact, I realised a couple of years ago that I left home -- as in, permanently moved 2,000 miles away -- just two weeks after my mother turned 40. Talk about a terrifying thought as my birthday approaches.
Anyway, even though my 23rd birthday came and went with no children and no husband and even though I had family members saying weird things that they probably didn't even realise were related to that, it wasn't until I was well into my 30s that I realised just how HAPPY I can be as a single woman. I've had relationships, yes, including long term and serious ones, ones I thought would be forever but didn't turn out that way, for good and less-good reasons. But now, and really for at least the last....6 or so years?...I've learned how to be ME. To live alone and love it. To travel alone and love it. To use my resources differently and to bless different people than I would be able to do otherwise.
Sure, there are things I don't love about being single. Mainly, though, it's about housework. I don't love washing up after cooking, or unloading the dishwasher, or putting away laundry. I don't love that if I get sick, there's no one to help. (especially right now, when there's an illness going around that is more terrifying for single people than those I've encountered before, because of how quickly it can change into something very serious, especially at night.) That tells me I wish for staff, not a partner.
For a few years, the worst thing about being single was feeling like I was no one's priority. Like all my friends and family had people who were their number 1, who topped the list of people they thought about, worried about, etc, and there was no one who would put me on their list of priorities. And rightfully so, because they had partners and children and ageing parents, etc. It was hard work with my therapist to overcome that feeling and to build friendships where I could feel like I mattered in that way to someone else. Because you know what? It's okay to ask for people to treat you like you matter to them. And not every person who is a priority for us is related to us, and that is good and healthy.
The poem I want to share today is on a similar theme, sort of. At least of the idea of being a whole person by myself, and still being important in myself, though the author's experience is very different from mine in many ways. It's called "Today, God" by Starr Davis. I won't reproduce it here, for copyright reasons, but you should 100% click through and listen to the author read the poem!!
|Among my biggest issues being single now: no one to help me eat the dessert.|