Monday, 5 September 2016

Do We Still Call People 'Spinsters'?

Friends, I can't believe we've come to the final post in the Mombies Unite series. 

From practical ideas to heartfelt recounting to powerful truth, I am consistently blown away by the brilliance of the tribe of women surrounding us, both in real life and in virtual reality. I want to take a moment and say THANK YOU to every contributor, the women I cajoled into posting and those who submitted work for consideration. As a language arts teacher, I know that sharing your own words is always valuable but I underestimated how much curating these words would impact me personally. From my heart to yours, thank you.

Motherhood can be an all-encompassing part of life and so far we've heard about the funny side, the trials, the victories and the hurts... but motherhood's not a reality for every woman and whether or not your path includes motherhood, you impact every person you meet. When it came to the final post for Mombies Unite, I knew that I wanted to hear from Crystal. 

She does an incredible job of introducing herself, so without further ado, here's Crystal with a powerful reminder for every woman

Contentment is possible in the circumstances you find yourself in today... and when you feel like you might be missing out on something, remember this: You're not missing the party. You are the party. 


 Do We Still Call People 'Spinsters'?

When Abbie asked me to write a guest piece for her blog – back in February, sorry Abbie – I was equal parts terrified and excited.  I write fairly amusing statuses on Facebook so writing something longer could be really fun.  Then I tried to start writing, and it didn’t go so well.  Then I read her recent post about how you should write, even if you feel like you don’t have anything to say.  So here it is.

My name is Crystal Martens. I’m 34 years old and I work at a Funeral Home with my brother and my parents, who own the business.  I have two dogs (Lady and Schroeder), I love Marvel movies, and Sherlock, reading, watching football, and cross stitching. I’m what I call “indoorsy.”  Camping in a tent is my personal version of hell, but that’s a rant for another day.

And I am unmarried.  Most of the time that doesn’t really bother me, but since moving back to Swift Current last year I’ve come to learn that it’s very important to a lot of people.  Because they’ll always ask me about it.

I’ve experienced these questions many times but one recent incident in particular stands out.  A well-meaning (or maybe nefarious, who knows) person asked if I was married yet or had kids.  When I answered “no” on both fronts and “not that I know of” to her follow up question about any prospects on the horizon, she clucked her tongue in disappointment and marveled that she “never imagined I’d be a spinster, especially after spending six years living in Regina.”

Still not sure how to properly respond to that one, I think I mumbled something slightly resembling words and just stood there in the bakery section at the Coop.  As I held my loaf of bread, I wondered: Do we still call people spinster?

My other personal favorite is when someone sees me holding a child, usually one of my nieces, and says “That looks good on you, you should get one of those.”  Sure, excuse me while I update my PayPal account and hit up Amazon.  It’s similar to signing up for Netflix, right?

I know that marriage and children are good things, and I wouldn’t object if God brought them into my life someday.  I don’t want to sound calloused or cold, but is that all there really is to life that counts?  Women who are wives or mothers are more than those roles.  Am I deficient if I never unlock those two life achievements?  What about the people I love or the things I’m interested in?

For starters, I am blessed to have three beautiful nieces (Adalyn, who’s 5, Sloane and Ira, they’re 2 year old twins) who I love more than my own life.  It was a powerful moment when I held them for the first time, feeling that maternal instinct rush through me for someone whose physical existence I have nothing to do with.  I love those girls with all my heart and I would kill for them without giving a second thought.  If fighting a bear will save your life, always remember that I love you.

My biological clock gives a few loud ticks every now and then just to remind me it’s there, and I have grieved the children of my heart.  Those I did not have the chance to bear but hoped for, prayed for, dreamed about, named, and dearly loved.

But when Sloane or Ira (or sometimes both of them, I’m working on my arm strength) come up to me and just raise their arms because they want to be held, I turn into a giant puddle of mush on the inside.  Or when Ady runs up to me and yells “AUNTIE CRYSTAL!!!!” and wants to tell me all about her new favorite thing.  Oh, my heart.

I have little people to love and cuddle and squish and read stories to and play with.  My mother-heart is content.  I love watching them grow and learn and figure things out for themselves.  When they grow up, I will continue to love and support them.  I want them to always know that I’ll be there for them.  I will be the crazy auntie that lets you have a Disney marathon all night while eating your body weight in sugar.  I think we all need one of those aunties and I have every intention of wearing that mantle with pride.

Bottom line, if I can share some truth with you, is that you need to find contentment with where you’re at.  You’ll be so much happier.  Not that we shouldn’t hope for things or have goals, but enjoy this moment.

When I was a kid I marched to the beat of my own drum, and as an adult I can still carry that tune.  And I’m pretty ok with that.  In fact, I love it. 

I love looking after my nieces, but it can be exhausting chasing after children and keeping them alive.  Sometimes it’s only the love for a child that gives you the strength to answer “why?” one more time.  Kudos to moms and dads who do it every day, it’s a huge and important job.  When I come home, I love that everything is exactly where I left it.  My dogs are happy to see me and it doesn’t take much to keep them alive or happy.  And it’s quiet. 

I love that I can commit to doing things like leading a junior youth care group at my church and not have to worry about if that will take time away from my family.  I can go to a movie whenever I want.  If I eat Fruit Loops every meal for two days because that’s what I’m hungry for, no one else’s dietary needs or taste buds are being overlooked.  If I want to hang out with my nieces, I call and see if they’re free for some auntie time.  Being able to come and go and do what you want without consulting someone is pretty rad, not going to lie.

While this may not seem significant to anyone, I recently took five days off and went to Regina to see as many of my friends as I could and also have a bit of a break.  I stayed in a hotel, by myself.  Which felt a little weird at first but I got over it.  The king size bed I had to myself certainly didn’t hurt.  I went water sliding.  By myself.  That felt a lot weirder, but I did it anyway and shot out of that waterslide like I’d been launched from a cannon.  And it was fun.  And no one pointed and laughed.  Probably because I was the only one in the pool, but that’s not the point.  I came and went at my own leisure and went for coffee with friends and saw movies and wandered through some of my favorite stores and it was awesome.

Sometimes it feels a little scary to do things like that by myself, but what an amazing time I would’ve missed out on had I not gone.  I don’t want to sit around and wait for life to be perfect before I venture out and do anything – I want to live it now in all its glorious messiness.

The moment that brought this whole blog post to be was when I commented on one of Abbie’s Instagram posts back in February.  I said that sometimes I feel like I missed the party (because I’m not married and don’t have any kids while most of my friends do) but then I look at all the blessings and awesome things in my life, and my life is pretty wonderful the way it is right now.  She replied, “You didn’t miss the party.  You are the party.”

Yeah, I am!  And it’s okay to be content with my life, even if it looks nothing like what others think it should be.  Especially then, because I don’t want their pity.  I’m doing just fine. 

Did this beautiful and wise gal strike a chord with you? 
Let Crystal know in the comments below and why not give her words a share?

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