Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh the maiden aunts

Has anybody been watching Cranford on PBS? The last episode was on yesterday. As usual with everything these days, it reduced me to tears. Even though it had a happy ending, overall. But it just broke my heart to see the women there who never managed to get married. Because even though in the early Victorian years they were starting to have some opportunities to make some money if they did not have "independent means", they were still severely limited. And of course they were very limited socially. So if you didn't manage to catch a husband, your life had to be lived on a very reduced scale. You weren't allowed to have too many aspirations in life, because life didn't very often provide opportunities. Even if you did marry, the chance was that your spouse would die early. Just so much sadness all around. And to see Judi Dench playing a spinster that had her chance of marriage taken away not once, but twice, and who ends up saying wistfully to a younger women how she feels when she sees women with babies. Ahh, it broke my heart.

In this day and age, we have an expectation that we can "have it all". Women like me think that we don't need to focus on marriage and babies at an early age. That we can go down to the sperm bank when we hit our late 30's and have that child after all. And then we get so beaten up inside when it doesn't work. Watching the historical fiction stuff makes me think about all those women through all the centuries. The maiden aunts. The ones that didn't manage to marry and who had to accept the very reduced circumstances that that brought to their lives. Did they feel any less deeply than us? Of course not. Did it matter to humanity that their genes were never added to the gene pool? Of course not. Did it matter to them? Of course it did, but they couldn't do anything about it.

Which of course brings me around to me again. As usual. It's all about me, after all! I have to accept that I am like those women. That my life is not as I wanted it to be, but I still have to stoically put on a brave face to the world and move forward as best I can. That I have to accept my lot in life and that I can't do anything about it. That I am a maiden aunt. Well, not so much of the "maiden" but unmarried. Barren. Alone. And will the rest of humanity go on with their lives around me? Of course. Will it matter that my genes aren't continued to the next generation? Of course not. Not in the grand scheme of things. It would have been nice. Boy, it would have been nice. But, getting back to the old "ego" discussion, I deserve what I want out of life no more than any of the millions who have come before me and who will come after me. This is my cross to bear. And in some bizarre way, thinking of all those women makes me feel less alone. Less like my life is spectacularly shit. More like it is just run-of-the-mill shit. It is what it is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sarah, Just before I got married I went to the 40th birthday of an extended family member. I remember feeling sorry for her a little cos her most significant ex was there with another woman, and I reckoned that had to sting a little. 11 years on, she is married to a guy she had never clapped eyes on at that point and she has a beautiful son, conceived through IVF (with her own eggs) at 45 because besides her age, her husband had had a vasectomy. I know by the way she interacts with me that she feels very sorry for me. Things change, thats all I'm saying. Thinking of you.