“You knew then what you knew how to do. And when you knew better, you did better.”
I came across this quote from Maya Angelou last night and it reminded me of something a friend of mine said to me just after I was divorced. We were talking marriage and divorce –we had both married young, regretted our choices, and both later divorced.
But mostly we were talking about how women our age, who had grown up in the South in the 70s and 80s, had been taught that what a girl did was MARRY. I know, it sounds crazy that at this late of a date, young girls were still being primed to do one main thing: marry and reproduce. This is what we were taught to do.
In my case, it wasn’t so much that my parents ever said this to me, it was just a cultural understanding–and they never refuted it. How strange it was for me then that when I got older, I learned that a girl didn’t have to marry. She had a choice–and it wasn’t just those weird, unattractive women who didn’t marry, it could be anyone. It could be me.
I think this is a southern thing. I’m trying to instill in my own daughter that she has a choice. She doesn’t have to marry or have kids. It’s not required. There’s not some rule book somewhere that says that southern girls must marry and start popping ’em out. It isn’t so. But I’ve noticed that even today, our culture is still geared strongly this way. And no matter how many times I tell her that women don’t NEED men, she doesn’t seem to believe me. Sure, it’s nice to have a good man around but it isn’t NECESSARY. We girls are FINE on our own.
So when people ask me why I married so young and so badly, I’m going to tell ’em, “I knew then what I knew how to do. And now, I know better.”