Posted on | October 2, 2012 | 5 Comments
When J had his surgery a few weeks back, they needed information on me before they’d take him back for the procedure. One of the “routine” questions on the pre-op form was the formerly simple “Marital Status” question. I say formerly simple because before I was married, I marked “single” and after I was married, I marked “married.”
But then divorce entered the picture. And now I haven’t quite known what to mark.
Because invariably, there is also a “divorced” box just hovering out there on the margin. And sometimes a “Widowed” box, as well.
So am I “single” or am I “divorced”? And what does checking one vs. the other mean about me?
The more I thought about those boxes, the more annoyed I became. It’s such social commentary, such a snide elbow in the gut of all “formerly marrieds” whether male or female. Because honestly, what does it say about you to pick one over the other? If you check “single” as a 30 something, are you risking the judgy-mcjudgerson looks from the receptionist as she eyes the toddler at your side or the fact that you’re there for your post-pregnancy check up? If you check “single” in your 40s, are you getting a side-eye and a raised eyebrow while the person on the other end of the counter sizes you up to see why you’re still so very single “at your age”? And then there’s “divorced,” the check of finality, the check of “I used to be married but now I’m not and I don’t want to talk about it only maybe I do because I’m freely indicating that I am now, in fact, no longer married.”
Is there a difference, really, in how you view yourself and those around you if you mark “single” instead of “divorced?” I think there is. I think that by marking “divorced” I’m somehow buying into the notion that I need to prove I’m somehow different than “just” a single woman. I think that marking divorced on a medical form is like saying “I WAS married, SEE?” It’s the check of “I had someone once so don’t be thinking I’ve never been married at my age.” It’s the check that indicates I’m still wallowing in my past.
So from here on out, I vow to mark “Single.” Because I am single, because I’m not ashamed of being single, and because I choose how I define myself.
From here on out, I will ignore the “divorced” mark on any medical form because it’s not a medical condition and it won’t affect my treatment in any way. From here on out I will happily check “single” and let the imaginary voices be damned.
Because contrary to the lingering whisper in the public forum, there is nothing embarrassing about being a single parent.