I Cordially Invite You to Celebrate the Non-Traditional Woman.
I sort through the mail scattered on the countertop, creating piles of bills and pizza coupons, before coming across the pastel pink envelope inviting me to celebrate the marriage of soul mates or the birth of a child.
I post the invitation on the fridge next to the Pizza Hut coupons, and contemplate whether I will RSVP to another night of photo booths and drinking cheap wine from mason jars. While I want to partake in the celebrations marking a new chapter, I cannot help but think of the other milestones of the non-traditional woman that go unnoticed.
I have the privilege of knowing a hardworking warrior woman who lives life by her own standards and refuses to take shit for it. She earned a Master’s degree while working two jobs, preparing crock pot recipes, and supporting herself entirely. Having recently pursued her dream job, she moved across the country to begin a new journey in a strange city where nothing is familiar.
Having grown bored of suburbia, she made the unnerving decision to leave everything comforting behind for the unknown. The deafening sound of courage quieting her fears and doubts should be cause enough to celebrate her accomplishments, yet there was no pastel invitation on my counter honoring her.
Prior to leaving, she sat down with her family to say her goodbyes, before packing everything she owned into her Toyota Camry. While celebrating her new journey, her mother gently interrupted her excitement and decimated her pride by asking the question that is dreaded by the wandering and the independent:
“But when are you going to get married and have children?”
She sat blankly with contempt as her achievements were minimized due to her inability to conform to the stereotypical 1950s housewife.
Her Master’s degree, newfound career, and self-determination were overshadowed by the box she willingly checked: Single. She did not check a box of loneliness or inferiority, nor did she fit in the box that society has carved out for women between the ages of 20-35. She created her own space, and reveled in her freedom to surpass stereotypes without apology.
As an independent woman with no intention of having a husband or sex trophies, I celebrate the wanderers and the warriors — the women who charge into life as if it were a battle. I honor the women who belong to no one and live life for themselves, creating their own happiness along the way.
Diverging from societal expectations and Victorian-era ideologies to pursue a path paved with sweat, blood, and a disregard for the norm, should be revered. We continue to shackle our heroines in the chains of ancient, sexist beliefs that hold them hostage to the ideas of matrimony and motherhood.
A woman is not to be less regarded because her aspirations did not include marriage and children. Rather, let us raise our glasses to the rebels and the revolutionaries. Let us celebrate the women who rewrote happily ever after.
While marriage and the birth of a child warrant recognition, do not forget to acknowledge the women creating new milestones. The women who break down barriers, paving new roads for the ones who long for something different from the ring and the white gown. By letting the new promotion or graduation go unnoticed, we are sending the message that only marriage and children are worthy of lavish celebrations.
Every woman deserves her day, and for some, there is no white dress and baby’s breath, there is empowerment and self-worth through non-traditional means. We must stop shoving matrimony and motherhood down the throats of women who choke on the notion that they are lesser because of a naked ring finger. I cordially invite you to attend the celebration of the non-traditional woman.