Every Tuesday night two of my sisters and I huddle under blankets on my couch to chat and watch thirty women vie for one man’s attention: Clayton, a good ole’ boy from Missouri, desperate to find love.
And every Tuesday night I’m struck by the women in the confessional interviews saying all they want is to be a wife and a mother, saying that becoming Clayton’s wife, having Clayton’s children will complete them.
I get it, it’s a show about competing for love with a marriage proposal at the end. So even if they don’t truly believe that a relationship ready for the day-in-and-day-outness of marriage will come out of this “journey,” they cannot admit that on camera. Maybe they’re lying or at least drumming up a feeling they actually feel for effect.
Or maybe they’re not. Maybe, like me, they’ve held on to this belief that what will complete them is their role to another—wife, mother. Maybe they’ve been told their whole lives their womanhood is contingent on them being in relationship with others—a man, a child. Maybe they’ve been told women become good, whole, wise, purposeful, fulfilled when they become wives and mothers.
Maybe it’s this lie that caused one woman in a local mom’s Facebook group I’m a part of to write, “What do you do when you feel like running away? When you regret having kids and maybe even regret getting married?” And maybe it’s this same lie that caused more than 100 other women to write comments of agreement—acknowledging that instead of feeling completed by their kids and partner they sometimes feel weighed down, so unlike themselves they don’t recognize the their own face in the mirror; acknowledging that they wouldn’t change a thing, of course, but that it doesn’t feel like they thought it would.
Being a wife and a mother is a good thing, an honorable thing, but neither are the ultimate thing. Our relationships to others were never meant to complete us. Assuming they do places extreme pressure on our partners and children, and takes away all other facets of ourselves. The very things that make us unique. Perhaps the very things the world needs.
*originally seen on Instagram