I knew that becoming a mother meant I would be opening myself up to some questionable commentary. After all, I spent enough time walking around as a pregnant person (listening to people say extremely inappropriate things and/or feeling the need to touch my body without permission) so I didn't think anything I would hear or experience as a mom, would be a surprise. Turns out, I was wrong. There are some creepy things people feel fine saying to moms who aren't married, and as a mom who doesn't wear a wedding ring and doesn't call her partner her "husband," I have heard 'em all. (Hint: they don't get any easier, any less creepy and any less shocking.)
I thought, as it is 2016 and I had my son in 2014, we had progressed enough as a nation and a culture to put "traditional" views of marriage and family behind us Nope. I guess people are still hanging onto the "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage," way of thinking. People are still asking me if my partner is going to "make an honest woman out of me," (ew) and if not wearing a ring on my finger means I'm "available" (also, ew).
For the most part, I've become somewhat accustomed to the shocked faces when I tell people that my partner and I don't plan on ever getting married, but it's the comments that I'm still having a hard time getting used to. In fact, I'm not sure I ever will. The majority of them are creepy in a very literal sense, but they're all creepy in the sense that no one should feel entitled to such personal information. So, with that in mind and in the hopes we can just kill these questions and comments dead, here are the creepy things people feel perfectly fine saying to moms who aren't married. Like, enough already.
"Is Your Partner Your Kid's Real Father?"
I honestly can't get past the world "real" in this extremely condescending question. Like, what does that even mean? Is this person standing next to me and holding my son's hand a robot of some kind? An alligator person wearing human skin as a suite? I just don't follow you.
There are so many different "types" of families, and the differences between families certainly don't separate the "real" ones from the "fake" ones. Marriage definitely doesn't make a parent "real," just like biology doesn't either. An adopted parent is real, a stepparent is real, and a parent that isn't married is real. Hush your mouth, now.
"Are You Guys Exclusive?'
That's honestly no one's business, and even though I have had people ask me (on more than one occasion) if my partner and I sleep with other people, each time that question is posed is just as shocking as the last. How a couple decides to handle their relationship, sex life, or anything else for that matter, is between the couple. Furthermore, just because a couple isn't married doesn't mean they aren't committed to one another. A piece of paper and a few rings aren't the end-all-be-all of romantic relationships.
"Are You Going To Be OK If You End Up A Single Mom?"
Well, sure? I mean, plenty of women are single mothers and they're handling it like bosses. So, yes, if my partner and I went our separate ways, I would be fine and so would he.
However, can we just stop and talk about how horribly rude it is to assume a couple won't last, just because they aren't married? After all, there's this little thing called divorce and plenty of married couples have experienced it, so it's not like marriage automatically equates to a life-long, unbreakable commitment.
Sadly, I had someone ask my mother if she would end up helping me the day I inevitably became a single mom. Yeah, that person and I don't talk. Shocker, I know.
"Why Are You So Afraid Of Marriage?"
I, personally, don't mind this question as I have been vocal about my own thoughts regarding marriage, and why those thoughts exist. However, not everyone who doesn't want to get married is "afraid" of it. Some people simply don't believe in the institution of marriage. Some people don't want to go through the hassle or spend the money. Some people are perfectly happy in their committed relationships, so marriage just doesn't seem like a necessity.
To each their own, people.
"Aren't You Afraid They're Going To Cheat?"
I'm no more afraid infidelity than a married woman in a committed, monogamous relationship with her husband is. Again, marriage doesn't mean that you need to just throw your hands up in the air and say, "Yep! Nothing to worry about here! That certificate has bound us together forever so we're not flawed human beings anymore; we're just two married people who will never hurt one another or make any sort of mistake or fall out of love. Nope. Not us!" That's, just, not a thing. So many people want it to be, but it isn't.
So, no, I am not afraid that my partner will cheat. We trust one another and respect one another and if we felt like we no longer wanted to be with one another, we would sit down and have a conversation that would ensure that no matter what happens with us romantically, our son would come first and he would be in a happy, healthy environment. Honestly, I think that's about as adult as it gets.
"Well, I Guess You're Technically Single Then, Huh..."
Nope. Not how it works. I mean, yes, when those government forms come around and I have to fill out my taxes, I check that "single" box, but I am committed to my partner.
"...And This Means Your Partner Is 'Fair Game' Too, Right?"
Can we just get rid of the "fair game" thing? I think that needs to be our top priority, first and foremost.
I'm not "territorial" or controlling and I'm not going to tell anyone what they can and cannot do. If someone was going to "make a pass" at my partner, hey; more power to them. I trust my partner to do what is best for our family, but also what is best for himself. Having said that, I know a wedding ring doesn't keep people from hitting on other people, nor does it keep people from cheating or having an affair. So, assuming that I have "something to worry about" just because my partner and I aren't married, is ignorant at best.
"I Guess Nothing Is 'Sacred' Anymore..."
Plenty of people still get married, and still believe in the institution of marriage, even as a religious and spiritual act. So, yeah, things are still sacred. I just don't participate in them.
I don't like this prevailing notion that "the world is going to hell in a hand basket" just because we aren't living life as it was lived in the '50s. I, for one, love the fact that same-sex marriage is a thing and having children without ever getting married is a thing and what was once considered "traditional" is now considered "outdated," because it is.
"Your Parents Must Be Really Disappointed"
My mother isn't bummed that she can't see me in a wedding dress or dance with me at some fancy wedding reception. All she cares about is seeing me happy and seeing my son happy and healthy and thriving. Thankfully, she gets to see that every day, as my partner and I are able to provide ourselves and our son with the things we need and want, even though we're not married. Crazy, I know.
"What Will You Tell Your Kid?"
That his father and I love one another. That his father and I love him.
I mean, that's basically the gist, and no matter what ends up happening with my partner and I (romantically or otherwise), that will never change. I will love my son's father whether we live together for the rest of our lives and turn old and wrinkly and grey side-by-side, or if we go our separate ways eventually and parent separately. He will always be the father of my child and that means something to me, marriage or not.