Photo: Emily Long
This past Saturday I had the privilege of holding a three-week-old baby girl. The reaction of my friends to this story is typically a combination of coos of delight and jealousy. My reaction was a little different. I wanted desperately to give the baby to someone else and run out of the house screaming.
Fortunately, I didn’t. I held the infant for the allotted ten minutes, staring at her the entire time wondering why anyone would want to be a parent. I politely congratulated the couple and observed my boyfriend closely to see his reaction to his turn holding their precious bundle. After putting the baby in the crib, I got to listen to a horrific labor story and detailed information on the delivery process. Mind you, the mother is not a close friend of mine. We first met when I accompanied my boyfriend, a close friend of the father, to her wedding.
During the car ride home, my boyfriend and I sat in uncomfortable silence. I was the first to admit my feelings and he was on the same page. We were both terrified. Becoming a parent is a huge responsibility and changes every aspect of your life. My boyfriend expressed concern that he probably wasn’t going to see the happy family anytime soon and that they eventually will surround themselves with other families and babies. This has happened to me already. My ‘big sister’ in my sorority was a close friend of mine throughout college. Then she had a baby. I still love her of course – and I’m very happy for her – but our relationship has definitely changed.
I often feel like I am the only 24-year-old not dying to get married and have babies. Most of my friends have gotten engaged and then married, and now a few of them are having children. I am happy in my relationship and in love with my boyfriend, but I’m not ready to marry him. I still have a lot of stuff I need to do. I want to be independent and somewhat successful before I commit to someone or start a family.
Now I do feel like I am on the sidelines watching my friends and family go through these major life steps. I scan through Facebook photos of babies, offer congratulations to every new engagement, and partake in the festivities. I do daydream about these things happening to me, but I also have several different dreams. For instance I dream about having a big wedding, eloping to Vegas, and an intimate beach wedding equally. I also think about having a gaggle of children, just one child, or no children at all. And because I am so ambivalent about my future, I have a hard time relating to my friends who are already making these huge decisions and who seem to have everything figured out.
I think that this is the reason I am so afraid. I have no official life plan, and I feel like I’m not prepared. But in the meantime, I am learning to accept that others think differently than me and that these changes are coming fast.
One thing I know for sure about the future: babies and marriage won’t happen for me any time soon. And that’s totally fine.