Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Singled Out vs. Married with Children

Disclaimer: this post is not about me hating kids or hating on my friends for having kids. It is only my perspective and not the perspective from the other side of this-> what it is like for friends with kids to have friends without. Yet, this is simply about how it feels to be single, unattached and almost 30 with no kids on the horizon.

This post is for anyone who is not having babies (for whatever reason) when practically everyone you know is or will be soon. It is a weird place to be. A few years ago I wrote this post on my feelings about all my friends getting married, and while many things from that post still hold true, having babies is a totally different dynamic. For my relationships with my friends, marriage didn't really change our dynamics, or if they did it was temporary when the relationship was new, but babies undoubtedly do.

Don't get me wrong, babies are great. They are cute and smiley and say and do adorable things and bring out a different side to you and your friends. They also keep me employed, because I work in schools! But, and I am totally being selfish here, they also take your friends away from you. When babies enter the picture, your friends are tired, worried, stressed (mentally and/or financially), less flexible or willing to hang out with you due to home life being a little crazy, and their minds are all about their kids as they should or should not be depending on the level of obsession:)

My social calendar was once filled up with social gatherings surrounding alcohol and freedom...then it moved to wedding showers and Bachelorette parties (I am lucky that I still have many of these, too)...now, baby showers are taking the cake (literally, though, any excuse for cake is great). Instead of easy to purchase home items, I am looking at registries for items I don't understand (if someone can explain to me half of what people need for babies, I would appreciate it), and I am going to parties where the talk is all about babies, the birthing process, bodies during/after babies and everything in between. (Shout out to my friend this weekend who showed me her c-section scar...it looks much better than I imagined!)

The thing is, I love it and hate it at the same time. I love to see friends so happy about this new stage of their life and see them and their partners embracing their maternal/paternal instincts. It is also great to see the different approaches to parenting and the cool kids they ultimately produce! But it is also a bit of a mourning period for me when each friend starts having kids. Mourning what our relationship is because it will never be the same. Mourning the fact that I am no where near that stage of my life.  Mourning what is wrong with me that having babies doesn't seem so great to me anyways?

The dynamic towards me as a childless, single, almost 30-year-old has also changed. Where once (and still sometimes) people were envious of the freedom and different path I am taking career, lifestyle (running + travel!), and education-wise (PhD), people also judge. I have heard more and more over the past year that "you don't understand because you don't have children," or "you don't know real love because you aren't a mother." Since when do women tear each other down? Since when is my life less important or less fulfilled because I don't have kids? Since when does my choice NOT to settle with any man  or practicing *ahem* safe sex, delineate me to a lifetime of sub-par love and lack of understanding? How does anyone even know what I think or feel about relationships and marriage and babies and life goals? Why do we have to judge so much?

Fact of the matter is, I don't know if I want kids or not. I don't know if I want to be married or not. But I sure as hell do not sit around mourning what I don't have. I wasted enough of my time in my mid-20's doing that, and it led to me feeling worthless and lost. I view life as a journey with different paths, not one better or more perfect than the other. If I marry and have kids- great!- and if I don't- that is great, too! But I do mourn for what I am losing, in terms of friends and how that relationship will change. No matter how wonderful something is and how change is a part of life, it is never easy, especially if it is on a path different from your own.

My life has been a big part of celebrating other people. Engagements, weddings, babies....all these wonderful things. But, when will people be celebrating me?

Some other great posts on this topic: When Everyone Else is Married with Children, An Open Letter to My Friend Without Kids, 16 Things New Parents Want Their Friends Without Kids To Know , How to Stay Friends When Your Friends Have Kids

Please share your thoughts on this topic below.