And for once I was SuperMom

Friday, September 13, 2013

Am I There Yet?

My last post started a bit of a discussion on Facebook, the women debating are people I respect and value as being thoughtful.  One pointed out that the fact that we are still discussing a girl's 'coming of age' without the male sphere of influence means that we are still very far from being independent from that sphere.

My heart sunk as I read her words, I know that she's right.  We're still talking about this crap.  Men don't have to defend their autonomy.  We still seem to need to.

I reflected on those few years after college where I came into my own, I do remember how much I longed to be in a relationship.  Makes me sad that I wasted so much mental energy on that desire.  But aren't we made that way?  Aren't we made to be in relationship?  Do men crave it just as much women?

I remember a moment where I was completing a backpacking training course, one of our teachers asked us if we felt like we were adults yet.  My hand went up half mast, bent at the elbow, a question waving in mid air.  I was dating the man that I knew I was going to marry.  I was 24.  Shouldn't I be an adult by now?  With my hand still aloft I decided that by the end of that summer I would be an adult.  Not because of that man that I would marry, but because I felt like getting married was a pretty adult decision and shouldn't I be one before I make that commitment?

The more I read the responses that people send me the more I wonder about much our focus on individualism has hurt us.  So many young adults don't know when they become an adult.  We crow so much about making our own journey we forget that we all journey, and that we are still in this together.  America is not a group of random people all sharing the same borders, we are a community.  Whether we realize it or not.  It should be the role of those in the community to say, 'Yes, you are an adult now.'

In Romania you are not considered an adult until you are married and have children.  In our culture we can't say something like that, because that excludes people that have chosen to stay single, or stay in a relationship but remain unmarried, or gay people who cannot get married, or those that have chosen not to have children, or are infertile.  So what are our markers?  A few mentioned 'work.'  Being tired after 'work,' or 'working' in a cubicle.  Does that make us adults?  We are so work focused in our nation that being dedicated to your work surely does make you an adult.  That seems to be what we value the most, considering our unfriendly policies towards paternity and maternity leave.  We don't value children much because they don't make money and they get in the way of our individual autonomy.

My husband worked with an organization in Kenya that led rites of passage for youth in the city of Nairobi.  As Kenyans have moved into urban environments they were missing out on their tribal rites of passage, causing youth to go morally adrift.  So this organization stated that the church should be the 'new tribe' and provide youth with meaningful rites of passage into adulthood.

I keep thinking about the public deconstruction of these girls becoming women, I know that some of my friends certainly experimented sexually and I doubt they would say that made them an adult.  Most of the responses I've seen were similar to my own; realization of self, and financial independence.  I see a happy disconnect; art is not imitating life nor is life imitating art.  Maybe the media is not as powerful as we think it is.