The Pressure of Cultural Expectations

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Towards the end of this past year I found out that my younger sister was having a baby….A BABY! Now, you would think that I would be ecstatic given that I was going to be a first time aunt and my sister a first time mom….NOT! Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for her. Yet, as I was sitting at work reading the message, “I’m pregnant,” I started to cry. & trust me, they weren’t tears of joy…

I was so angry at myself for being upset at such a joy filled moment, but I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. I had so many negative mixed feelings. How could I be so selfish? Why was I so upset? Why was I angry? Sad? Scared and anxious even?

The truth is, I felt like I had failed! What?! That’s right, you read it correctly…I had failed. Failed at what you may ask? I failed at being the eldest and being a woman (a married one nonetheless). As stupid as it may sound to many of you. That’s exactly how I felt.

Growing up as a Hispanic woman, you are taught that there is a way to do things right. You date, you get married, you have kids. I always strived to be the perfect daughter (regardless of my nights of endless partying). & for the most part, I had been! I had good grades, earned a bachelors degree and lived at home until I got married. I only had one thing left to do…be a mother/give my parents their first grandkid. Yet, here I was, getting news that my younger sister was pregnant and I wasn’t.

Along with all other feelings, panic started to ensue. What we’re my relatives and friends going to say? Would they start pressuring me to have kids (AGAIN)? Would they make fun of me? Pity me? Talk behind my back?

I had turned what was a moment of happiness for my sister, into a moment of dread for myself. Of course I was allowed to be happy and sad at the same time…but what kind of person was I for taking away from another’s joy? Sadly, I had let an old school culture get the best of me and I stole from my sisters joy.

Why did I feel the need to write about this you may ask? Honestly, because I know I am not the only person out there who has felt like they have failed, all because of something our culture instilled in us. I’m not the only married woman who has been asked time and time again when she was going to have children? Why she chose to have dogs instead of children? Told how much joy kids bring, as if my life wasn’t filled with joy already.

The point I would like all women (and men) to take away from this, is that we need to stop being so hard on ourselves. Stop trying to meet stupid old school expectations! Live your life happily how you want to. & stop asking people when they’re having kids! No one needs to have kids to make them happy, to make them whole or to fulfill a life purpose. That’s not what kids are for.

For anyone wondering, yes, my sister is aware of how I felt upon the baby news. We have very open communication. & even though I already apologized for my immediate reaction, I’d like to publicly apologize again and express to her how thrilled I am to be, “cool aunty Jay.”

 

cool aunt

PS. If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, comment below. I’d love to hear all about it. This is, after all, a no judgement zone ❤️

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