I was taught that independence is defining. “Be your own woman, Farrah. Never let a man make decisions for you.” Those are the words that my mother repeatedly emphasized for as long as I can remember.
When my parents divorced, my mother’s emphatic cries only became more frequent (and slightly more extreme), “All men are scum. You have to be able to take care of yourself.”
And I agree — I believe that it is important to be independent and that I shouldn’t have to get married to ensure safety and comfort for myself. Then again, I also believe that my dad should live forever so I can continue to depend on him (but that’s a story for another time).
I always thought that my parents would back me up on my decision to put off relationships (specifically commitment to another person) until I felt ready and settled in my professional life. But then, I turned 26.
At 26, I’m straddling the line between young and “torshideh” or pickled (if directly translated). In the Iranian culture, once you begin to “pickle” then you can forget about any and all marriage prospects. It’s every Persian mother’s nightmare for their daughter to be pickled.
By your late 20’s, if an Iranian man hasn’t claimed you yet then forget about it.
On the day of my birthday — my grandmother called me from Iran and said, “Farrah, I have found you a husband.”
Even my mother, the independence promoter, has essentially sent out a “husband request” to all of her friends who have eligible sons (meaning doctors, lawyers or engineers).
“Farrah, he bought his last girlfriend a Meeeer-ceh-des. He is very good. You should date him.”
I’ve never met this man you speak of.
I feel torn. I don’t feel pickled, or rotting, or past my prime as my grandmother would “gently” put it. But at the same time, all this talk of finding a man before it’s too late terrifies me. That little voice in my head is constantly nagging me that I better start my search before I’m too torshideh for my own good.
And I resent that. Screw this BS that a woman is somehow less worthy because she doesn’t have a man standing by her side. If I don’t have children or a husband, will that somehow define my value as a woman?
And if so, then why? Because it’s “normal” to have a husband and a family? How can we define “normal” these days anyway? Living in the 21st century, our images of a “happy family” have dramatically changed (if you’re educated at least…).
My point is — normal doesn’t exist. Everyone has their own image of what a normal life is like and, frankly, I don’t think that attaching myself to a man to define me is normal. It sounds like a prison sentence. I would much rather a man had to attach himself to me instead.