I take out all my trash myself: Margaret Wiebe on singleness and independence

by Abby Musser – Horizon Editor-in-Chief

Margaret Wiebe, library director at Hesston College. Photo by Olivia Copsey
Margaret Wiebe, library director at Hesston College. Photo by Olivia Copsey

Margaret Wiebe imagined when she was younger that one day she would be married with children. She knows now that dream would not be fulfilled.

But don’t feel too sad for her. She doesn’t want your pity.

“I would say I have led a very good life as a single person.”

A good life, and an independent one. Without a family to take care of, Wiebe, library director at Hesston, says she can do a lot of traveling. She’s  not accountable to anyone. She can make decisions without having to consult someone else first. She can also choose when she wants to be alone.

“I’m tired at the end of a work day, and I love going home alone where there is no one depending on me to make supper,” she said.

Being on her own has taught Wiebe how to assert herself. If she wants to be heard, she speaks up.

“If I wanted to do things or get ahead…I had to be more open and more assertive,” said Wiebe.

Of course, there are downsides to being single, too.

Wiebe says people often assume older singles or any single person wants to get married or be in a committed relationship. Wiebe has experienced this in her own family.

“I know my parents prayed for me, that I would find someone,” said Wiebe. “My mom told me that once.”

So far, those prayers have gone unanswered. But Wiebe has come to accept being single, though it hasn’t always been easy. Even though there are roughly 18 million singles aged 65 or older in the US, she says society tends to be exclusive in their language towards them.

Wiebe has observed this in church, which she says is primarily focused on families. As a single young adult Wiebe struggled with going to church by herself because she did not have anyone to sit with. For her, church is one of those settings that put a lot of emphasis on couples.

“If you let it get to you then you feel left out of a lot of conversations and even things said from the pulpit,” she said.

She remembers one incident when a church was not sensitive to the singles in their congregation. Wiebe had just moved into town and was visiting a new church which served communion that Sunday.

“They invited people to come up as families, and there was a widow lady sitting next to me who started crying,” she said. “There could be other dynamics involved with that but it was right then that the tears started rolling in. So I invited her to go with me.”

Sometimes Wiebe doesn’t like being single. She wishes she had someone to come home to, even to do chores with, at the end of the day. Someone “to share the difficulties of the day… or the joys of the day.”

Wiebe says she imagines that she would enjoy marriage now if it came under certain circumstances.

“I would like to be married and have that person gone about half the week all the time,” said Wiebe. So I’d be single and independent sometimes, but they would be around to go to things with.”

Married or single, Wiebe wants to be a role model for other women.

“I’ve done a lot of things and for the most part been a very happy person,” she said.“I wanna give the picture of, it’s ok. I’ve done just fine. I take out all my trash myself.”

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