Do we have to accept everything for the sake of cultural differences?

This title came to mind after spending two weeks with my family in El Salvador.

Usually a vacation is the time where you relax, enjoy some free time and in this case an opportunity to see the family again. Family I did see, however, I never thought I’d been justifying myself the entire time I was there.

  • Why am not married?
  • Why I don’t have children?
  • Why I don’t go to church? Why don’t I believe in God?

Growing up in Quebec, a nation that has the lowest marriage in the World, it was never something I ever thought about. The majority of my friends are in common-law relationships. Even when I was in a long-term relationship, getting married was never discussed. Don’t get me wrong; I do want to be in a relationship, but not get married. I also don’t want to settle, as I get older, I realize I have a nice simple life why complicated it with someone who’s past is not sorted? So lets put it that way. I have a nice balanced life. I have a big family, many friends, a good job, a nice apartment and a car. If I feel like going out, I go out, sometimes, with friends, sometimes alone, depending of my mood. I’ve travelled the world alone; doing things by myself has never been a problem for me. I’ve met my share of guys through the years, some nice ones, some weirdo’s, some selfish ones, but none of these relationships have worked out. It’s life. Yes, I wish to be in a relationship, but not at any cost. So why keep asking why I am not married, like it’s a disease and there must be something wrong with me? Are they projecting their fear of living a life alone to me? I know it’s a cultural thing, but shouldn’t it be a rule than to respect others people way of living? So let’s get one thing straight: I live in a city of single people. Montreal is competing with Vancouver for the number of people living alone. I live in a vibrant multicultural city. I love living close to the city center where I can go catch a movie or attend a festival. There is nothing wrong with me, just not willing to settled for an unhappy life just to fit in the El Salvadoran standards.

So let’s tackle the other question of why I don’t have children? Simple as to I never met the guy I wish to have kids with. And NO, I do not wish to go through artificial insemination. And YES, I have considered adoption, but it’s complicated for a single 40 years old. Very few country allow it to start with, it’s also very costly so I’ve decided to let go of that project. As far as I know, having children involves two people. I know some woman decide to be single mom, but it was never my intention. Don’t get me wrong, I love children and I also wanted them. I am slowly going through the process of accepting the fact that it’s unlikely to happen. I know people want to be nice to me by saying, it’s not too late, but I am realistic, I am 40 so chances are more than slim. It would be nice if my El Salvadoran family would realize that this subject is a sensitive one for me and it makes me feel horrible every time them keep asking me this question.

My goddaughter once asked me if I wanted children and when I replied I did, but it never happened, she replied maybe you’ll never be a mom, but you are a great aunt. You are lucky to have many nieces and nephews. I was surprised by her words, her maturity and her empathy towards me. She is right, maybe I’ll never be a mom, but I’ll be the best auntie I can be. I am proud that my nephew Jeffrey is a hockey player. I took him to his first game at the age of 3. I was also proud to see my friend Sophie’s kid, Zoe skiing for the first time. Nor will I ever forget Cruz’s word after we arrived to the top of the mountain: This is life! Thank you, thank you, thank you, aunty Carol.

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And lastly, why I don’t go to Church or believe in God. Once again, I was born and raised in Quebec, a secular state where religion is a private affair. I do not like discussing this as it’s irrational and like I said to my cousin we will never agree on this subject. I respect your beliefs; please respect mine.

So do we have to accept everything for the sake of cultural differences? Do we have to accept these unpleasant comments on a daily basis? I don’t think so. At first, I was being polite, just answering. However, at one point, my patience gave him. My mom said to me: you are being aggressive. I said, well, after repeating constantly, I didn’t know how else to react. I am not used to justifying myself so often, like their way of life is better than mine and to be honest, when I look around me, I don’t see that many happy couples. Holidays are hard enough as it is. It’s the only time of the year where I feel lonely, when I wish I had a boyfriend. I know I am single, childless and without a father during that time of year where you’re expected to be with your family.

I was more than happy to come back to Canada where nobody ever asks me these questions. I hadn’t realized until I was back home how much it had affected me. I spend all Friday crying. Yes, there were other issues, but a big chunk was justifying myself constantly. I didn’t even mentioned how often I was told I was fat as if I can’t see myself in the mirror. Why is it ok to say something like that in the Latino culture? Going to visit your family is meant to be happy times. When people ask me how was my vacation, I feel bad replying that I didn’t really have a nice time. I didn’t go in an all-inclusive holiday. I went to visit my family in a country that has the highest crime-rate in the world. Insecurity is a major problem in El Salvador, which I’ll talk in another blog.

I never felt I was El Salvadoran and more than ever, I felt like a stranger there. Apart from speaking their language and eating their food, I do not share their way of life or culture. I was born and raised in Quebec and this is where my identity lies. I can still see the expression of the border officer in Nicaragua when I presented my El Salvador passport. He kept looking at me and then at the passport. He obviously didn’t believe I was El Salvadoran and the same happened at the airport when I left El Salvador.

In conclusion, maybe I could have handle the situation differently, but I was taken by surprised and unprepared by those questions as they are never asked in Canada. The fact that I own a Salvador passport doesn’t give me automatic sense of belonging to that culture.

One Comment

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  1. J’aime. Jeffrey adore le hockey a cause de toi miss Lopez. Merci

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