They say that when a girl wants to find someone to settle down with, she will look for someone who is like her father, and when I was little, I wanted just that. I wanted to marry a man who worked hard, enjoyed his time with his family, and put his family first. I wanted someone with a sense of humor, a sense of adventure, and someone who would be my partner in life.
That’s about as far as my daydreams went though, and I really never thought beyond those things when it came time for me to actually settle down and get married. I fell in love and everything I had planned for in my adolescence went out the window and I got married for all the wrong reasons.
When I think about my own daughter and her future as a wife, I worry. I worry that she will have the wrong impression of what a marriage is supposed to be. I worry that she will see the marriage between her father and I as an ideal one and aim for that. I worry that growing up here, her natural fieriness and character will be somehow watered down and she will not fight for what she believes in. But today she calmed my fears a little bit.
As we slurped up our spaghetti, the lunchtime conversation flowed from talks of music, time travel and galactic portals, to marriage. She’s always said that she never wants to get married because when a woman gets married she has a baby and it hurts, so she doesn’t want that to happen to her. I tell her that she can marry or not, it’s her choice. I’ve never discussed anything further with her. I’ve never told her what a marriage is supposed to be or what she should expect from a husband. It’s all too heavy for an 8 year old, so I let her share her ideas and I smile along. Her talk today went into a little more detail and my smiles turned into nods of approval and silent prayers thanking God that I’d done something right so far.
She says when she is ready to get married, she will make the man have a meeting with me so I can make sure he’s a good guy. She says she wants me to tell him all the things she wants and make sure that he accepts it all before she will marry him. She’s a strong woman. Here’s her list:
1. Someone who will treat her as an equal. He will need to do nice things for her just as she will do nice things for him. She will not be waiting on him. He will need to help out with household chores and children. He must also talk about how to discipline the children with her, not just go and yell at them.
2. Someone who doesn’t sleep all day
3. Someone who will take care of her when she is sick, just as she will take care of him. And he will have to take care of the children when they are sick (and he’s not allowed to wear a face mask and rubber gloves)
4. Someone who will care for her family, just as she will care for his
5. He must let her work, study, travel, visit family and friends, and will not be allowed to give her a curfew
6. Someone who will listen to her ideas, not just want to do things “his way”
7. Last but not least, if they have cats, HE must be the one to clean out their litterbox
I’ve done something right, right? I’m raising a good human. I’ve never once discussed any of the above things with her, and much to my relief, my daughter recognizes good from bad, right from wrong, and fair from unfair.
I know someday she may fall in love and a lot of her 8 year old expectations may go out the window, but I hope that if and when she does decide to get married that at least a few of these things stick. She’s so much smarter than I was at her age, so much more thoughtful, more perceptive. I couldn’t be more proud.