I Swear, This Just Keeps Coming Up

Awhile ago I posted a mini-manifesto on marrying young (w/some reservations, I'm for it). Then Frederica Mathewes-Green agreed. And now Danielle Crittenden. I swear, it's not a hobby -horse, these pieces just come to me. Tell your children. RTWT, it's meatier than this, but this is an intriguing anecdote to get you started.

I remember congratulating a young woman upon her recent marriage to a friend of mine and commenting perfunctorily that both of them must be very happy. She was 24 at the time. She grabbed my hand, held it, and said with emotion, "Thank you!" As it turned out, I’d been the only woman to offer her congratulations without immediately expressing worry that she’d done the wrong thing. Her single female friends had greeted her wedding announcement as a kind of betrayal. A few had managed to stammer some grudging best wishes. Her best friend nearly refused to be a bridesmaid. They simply couldn’t fathom why she’d tossed away her freedom when she was barely out of college. And she, in turn, couldn’t convince them that she really had met the man she wanted to marry, that she didn’t want to keep going out to bars in the evenings and clubs on the weekends, postponing her marriage for half a decade until she reached an age that her friends would consider more suitable.

What the heck, one more piece. Does this make you mad? Because it's true?

A woman’s decision to delay marriage and children has other consequences–less obvious than the biological ones and therefore harder to foresee. It is not simply the pressure of wanting a baby that turns those confident 25-year-old single career women you see striding through busy intersections at lunch hour, wearing sleek suits and carrying take-out salads to eat at their desks, into the morose, white-wine-drinking 35- year-old executives huddled around restaurant tables, frantically analyzing every quality about themselves that might be contributing to their stubbornly unsuccessful romantic lives.
By spending years and years living entirely for yourself, thinking only about yourself, and having responsibility to no one but yourself, you end up inadvertently extending the introverted existence of a teenager deep into middle age. The woman who avoids permanent commitment because she fears it will stunt her development as an individual may be surprised to realize in her 30s that having essentially the same life as she did at 18 – the same dating problems, the same solitary habits, the same anxieties about her future, and the same sense that her life has not yet fully begun – is stunting too.