On birthdays and spinsterhood

“Happy birthday! Get married.”

unsolicited advice given to the writer on the occasion of her 37th birthday

That this year’s birthday had come on a Monday, my least favorite day of the week, should have been a sign. I was already anticipating a spectacularly underwhelming birthday due to the pandemic, but the quote above had shot my hopes for a good birthday, kicked its corpse a little, and fed it to carrion birds.

Yes, I just turned 37 years old. Yes, I am unmarried. Yes, I don’t have children. To be honest, these are good things.

To be even more honest, I don’t really give a hoot that I’ve reached the (too?) ripe age of 37, unencumbered by a husband and children. I wish joy and success to everybody else who have been blessed with a spouse and/or children, but I mean it when I said I don’t see myself getting married and having a kid. I never wanted that life for myself. All I wanted as a child was to wear fancy clothes, paint, and maybe move to Paris. While those pipe dreams have been tempered by time (why wear fancy clothes when you can wear comfy clothes?), I never dreamed of making my own family.

Is it jadedness? Am I just a bitter spinster? I don’t think so. I get teary-eyed at every re-watch of Pride and Prejudice, cry at weddings, consume too much enemies-to-lovers fanfiction to be branded jaded or bitter. I counter, perhaps, it’s just enough self-knowledge to know that I have never found that kind of love that would induce me to marriage. I have too much respect for the institution of marriage, too much respect for love, to sully it with a half heart. I am also too independent to want to spend the rest of my life with someone. And I have too much self-respect to get married just to escape the derision of people who think a woman isn’t complete without a wedding ring and babies.

I am 37 and single. And that’s totally fine.

Marry for a home! Marry to escape the ridicule of being called an old maid? How dare you, then, pervert the most sacred institution of the Almighty, by becoming the wife of a man for whom you can feel no emotions of love, or respect even?

– “Honorable Often to Be an Old Maid,” from Peterson’s Magazine, a 19th century fashion magazine