mommiedearest

OK, as a continuation of the last post, my decision is this: I’m not changing my fucking name. Fuck it. However, the clincher was not the bureaucratic hassle, the fact that my professional history would be eclipsed by a person with a name that did not exist until October of this year, or the potential $1000 down the shitter. Nay, my doing this is a response to the sinister forces of my mother.

So here’s the deal: I was raised pseudo-feminist. My mom gave up on her life, career aspirations, and education when she had kids, and she was pissed about it when I was wee. She always told us to question tradition, to do what we want and be who we want and not to sell yourself out for a dude. However, as I’m getting older, I’m realizing that she only means that shit when it comes to stuff that a) doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, or b) only matters to her. For example: when us kids were wee, my grandparents always required fancy dress at Christmas gatherings. My mom thought that it was stupid to dress up and force little kids into weird Victorian doll clothes when what they really want to do is play with their new My Little Ponies on the carpet. So she rebelled, said, “Eff tradition! So impractical!” and started wearing jeans to Christmas. Also concerning the holidays, she refuses to set a time to serve Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, instead letting it happen when it happens — when it’s all ready, and when everyone’s hungry. We also don’t eat at the table or on fine china, we kind of spread out all over the living room watching holiday movies with plates balanced on our laps. Sounds like a laid-back mom, right? Well…….

Ever since I started planning my wedding, my mom has come out with the tradition guns blazing. She was cool with me not being “given away,” but would not let me opt out of really stupid shit like expensive guest books with fancy pens and balked at the idea of donating to a charity in my guests’ name, instead of wasting money on wedding favors. All of which she conveniently blamed on trying to be thoughtful and accommodating to Mr. P’s decidedly more outwardly traditional family. But I knew it had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with her getting an early start in gleefully heaping archaic mores all over me until my spirit breaks and I’m sapped of my will to live.

Ever since I got married, she’s been riding my ass to do shit for Mr. P that he is perfectly capable of doing for himself. When I tell her, “Um, noooo, his hands are not in fact broken, he can email his sister on his own about matters that concern only the two of them, thx.” And she just rolls her eyes and smacks her lips at me and drones on about how I know that Mr. P is utterly incapable of doing anything in a reasonably timely matter. Which is totally true. That man procrastinates every conceivable thing, including urination. BUT, I am NOT about to become his personal assistant, even if his antics derail areas of my life. If I pick up any of his slack now, in a few years I’ll be carrying the entire weight of his life, personal affairs, and probably his body, too. Seriously, I can totally see myself saddled with Mr. P in an adult-sized Baby Bjorn strapped to my chest.

When I point this out to my mom, she gets a kind of demonic shine in her eyes and smirks, “I know that, darling, but you’re the woman. You’re supposed to take care of him. You’re the capable one, so every task on earth that could ever befall a living person must solely be your responsibility, because that’s the Way Things Are.”

I was hoping that the bleak, misogynist lecturing was just a one-off, or I’d caught her on a bad day. But yesterday I went to her to discuss the name changing issue, and she seemed utterly horrified that I didn’t want to change my name. “Why not?” “What will Mr. P think of this?” “What about his feelings?” I tried to explain just how big of a liability and hassle it will be for me, and she was all, “So?” My Mom, getting truly inappropriate jollies off of my confusion and suffering, says, “Life is a hassle, babe, you might as well get used to it.” Which is true, but she can’t seem to answer why it’s  so terrible that I’d like to avoid unnecessary hoopla in this decidedly hassle-loaded world. If I don’t change my name, I’m no less married. No one will die. Mr. P might be sad about it at first, but after a few months, he’ll likely forget altogether. But, that’s really not her point, actually.

The implication seems to be that, now that I’m married, what I want to do (or not do), my needs, and my happiness are completely immaterial. I’m expected to sacrifice everything to The Cause. I get slightly hysterical saying, “Well, WHY do I have to go through all of this shit, erase my career achievements, uproot my identity, and make myself unhappy to show solidarity to this marriage or whatever, and he has to do NOTHING. He just shows up, that’s his commitment.” So, my mom recruits other office ladies to back up her argument. They all swarm around me like villains in some bad movie and say: “This is just preparing you for the rest of Married Life(TM). You will always sacrifice everything for him and he will do nothing for you. He is your dependant man-child, and you his obedient proto-mommy caretaker. You no longer matter. This is the Way Things Are.”

(record screeching to a halt)

Aww, HELL naw! Maybe that’s YOUR marriages. Maybe that’s just YOUR miserable lives. You wanna know why things are the Way They Are, ladies? Because we go the fuck along with it, and because women like my mom heap ungodly expectations onto us and refuse to let us escape them. Every single tradition I question my mom takes up like a caning rod and chases me around cackling like a banshee, trying to teach me my “lesson” re: wifehood. In truth, I don’t even think Mr. P cares all that much if I take his name, but my mom keeps stopping by my desk every hour or so dropping off more name-changing paperwork, even though yesterday I was adamant that I did not the fuck want to do it. I really don’t think it’s the men perpetuating this shit. I honestly think that bitter, dissatisfied women want to make other women as complicit and miserable as they are.

My mom is totally treating me like I’m being immature about all this – like I’m a spoiled teenager refusing to grow up. It’s as if there is only ONE WAY to do things, and my refusal to STFU and assimilate makes me some kind of Peter Pan. I’m sorry, but I like to think that marriage is what you make of it, and that these “rules” are fucking stupid. Women all over the world, even in countries like Iran, don’t shoot and bury their old identities just because they got married, and no one can give me a single good reason why I should. Or, rather, the “reasons” I’m being given are more like Stepford programming lectures designed to make me commit seppuku on the altar of Emily Post.

Seriously, it’s all starting to make me question my having gotten married. I feel like I may have sold myself out. This Married Life(TM) that I keep getting lectured about is NOT what I signed up for, and now I kind of feel dirty — like I’m immediately having my free will and card-holding-feminist status revoked upon entering into it. All I did was love a guy and say I only wanted him for the rest of my life. Are they going to come for Mr. P now, and tell him How Things Should Be(TM)? What have I gotten into? What. The. Hell?

Have any of you married gals out there experienced sexist crap like this foisted upon you by other women? Cuz I really think I’m never going to be able to come to my mom with a problem ever again….

stfusoup

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