When Everyone Else Is Married with Children
It started in my mid-twenties. At first it was a slow trickle, then the downpour exploded. Almost all of my friends started getting married. I was a bridesmaid so many times that my local tailor started offering me a “frequent bridesmaid” discount when I would arrive with a new dress to be altered. I wore purple dresses, green dresses, and a terrible, Disney princess-styled pink dress. I spent weekend after weekend going to showers, bachelorette parties, then weddings. My calendar was full of other people’s love.
Most of the time, I was glad to take part in these events. I became skilled at negotiating gift registries and oohing and ahhing as the brides-to-be unwrapped their blenders, duvets, and kitchen knives. These were big moments in my friends’ lives and I wanted to be there with them.
As I witnessed friend after friend get married, I clung tighter to the relationship I was in. I became more accepting of my relationship’s shortcomings and convinced myself that the man I was with was right for me. He had to be, didn’t he? I was almost 30 and believed that I needed to get married because everyone else was. It was time. It seems that my boyfriend of the time may have felt the same way. We got an apartment together and talked about the future. We lived together until I was 29 and he came to his senses. For many reasons, the relationship was not right for either of us. We parted ways.
At that point, I had to figure out what it meant to be completely single amongst my married friends. As I had become used to hanging out with them as couples, it wasn’t that weird. I adapted to the situation and knew that married, single, or otherwise, my friends were still my friends. When I would bring a new man I was dating into our group, they always tried to be welcoming and accommodating.
Soon after all the weddings, my married friends began getting pregnant. It started with friends I did not spend much time with. People whose company I enjoyed, but for whatever reason, only saw every couple of months. Every now and then, I would hear from one of them with the big news that they were pregnant. This was foreign territory for me, but if my friends were happy, I was happy for them.
And Then Came the Babies…
Here and there, I began attending baby showers. The first one I went to was for a friend who had already had her baby. It was more of a “welcome baby to the world” party. What I didn’t know then was that when a woman has a new baby, she spends most of her time secluded and trying to nurse. I barely saw my friend at this shower and spent the afternoon making small talk with strangers who had brought their children to the event. At this time, I was going through another breakup. The shower made me see how far I was from ever having the life that these people had. The life I was supposed to have. It all made me extremely sad. I remember quietly crying in my car when I left the party.
Around a year later, one of my best friends announced that she was pregnant. This was a friend I was extremely close with. I spent a lot of time with her and her husband and was surprised by the news. A few months after this announcement, a second close friend told me that she was pregnant. Then, a third friend announced her pregnancy, then a fourth. News of pregnancies just kept coming.
I found this overwhelming. It was one thing for friends I didn’t see that often to have babies; it was another for the close friends I spent most of my time with. At this point, I started to panic. I had been laid off from my job and was in a relationship that was not as fulfilling as it should have been. I spent hours alone on my couch, wondering what was wrong with me. Everyone else was married, had a house, a job, and was about to have a child. I had none of these things. What was my problem? Why didn’t I have anything at all? These were difficult days. Days spent alone with my thoughts, comparing myself to my friends’ lives and coming up short. Days wondering why I was such a societal freak.