A text: "I've done what you told me not to and got knocked up."
I'm thrilled for my friend, of course, despite vague (likely drunk) recollections of telling her she'd be dead to me if she did what everyone else in my life seems to be doing lately — having a baby.
It comes as no surprise. We're at "that age," and given the majority of my friends are in long-term relationships or married, they're at that stage; a baby is the obvious next step. I don't begrudge them their joy — at all. But with each new bump that crosses my Instagram feed, I feel an inkling of an emotion I can't quite put my finger on.
Am I jealous? Not exactly — I'm not even sure I want kids. Annoyed? A little. Maybe. Selfishly, I think of all the parties they won't be coming to now, even though I hate parties and never go myself. Am I feeling left out? Sure. Although, you can keep the morning sickness.
Perhaps, most accurately, I'm feeling left behind.
The women (and men) I hold most dear are going through profound changes and having an experience I'm not. Unlike big life moments that came before this and seemed to happen concurrently for my peer group — first loves, college, the job hunt, that one breakup you were absolutely sure you wouldn't survive — I've dropped the baton on the baby front. In fact, I'm still standing on the blocks without a serious partner or even a spare room that can be turned into a nursery.
Which makes me feel what, exactly? Inadequate, honestly. Somehow not enough or not "normal" (that old chestnut).
Because having a baby is what you're supposed to do when you're a woman in your 30s, isn't it? It's tempting to think we've surpassed prescribing women outdated societal norms, but the question of when you're going to have kids is often hinted at, if not outwardly asked, and single women of a certain age sit through many well-intentioned musings about egg freezing and sperm donations. These expectations burrow and nestle inside you.
I can't deny I feel a certain sadness, too. I look at my friends and their relationships and apartments and designer bassinets and see a life that, for various reasons, hasn't manifested for me. I'm sad because a part of me does want all that — has been conditioned to want it since I was a kid and learned the rhyme "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!"
I'm sad because no one tells you how disheartening and lonely being a single woman can sometimes be.
Of course, my confusing, ever-shifting emotions surrounding the great baby bonanza of 2017 have absolutely nothing to do with my friends and their offspring and everything to do with how I view myself and the choices I make.
It shouldn't, but witnessing my inner circle's changing lives occasionally compels me to focus on where my life lacks — and if anything is going to induce the blues, it's taking a little trip down comparison lane. While my friends are tasked with keeping a small human alive — a daunting responsibility for sure but one that will (supposedly) pay dividends in old age — I'm still dating the wrong types of men and drinking like I'm 22, not 32.
Then this: Is there something wrong with me that I haven't found the right man yet? Will I ever? Am I going to miss out on becoming a mother altogether? Do I care? Why can't I just double tap your ultrasound pic and get on with my day?
Perhaps my feelings are pointing me in the direction of where I want to go; perhaps it's just anxiety about the passing of time. I'm still not sure.
What I do know is I am genuinely happy for you (I promise) and I won't mention any of this at your baby shower.