Once you’ve bid farewell to your awkward phase, those trying teenage years and young-adulthood, life as you know it is pretty much set in stone, right? You find “the one,” get married and have children.
It may sound like happily ever after, but what if you are on the path less traveled? Whether it is your choice to remain unmarried and child free or the family life just hasn’t happened for you yet, it can be hard to witness the evolution of your peers with grace, especially when the outside world is expecting you to catch up.
When the couple waves from their “Just Married” limo or your best friend is pregnant with her third, how do you cope with the feeling that you’re getting left behind?
The Friendship That Once Was
In college you were inseparable. The two of you lived together, took the same classes and sat next to each other during graduation. Now that she’s a mom you hardly see her. When you do manage to get together, you feel as though you are the only one of her friends who’s not married with children.
It may be hard, but try not to take it personally that your college bud has a gaggle of new Mommy buddies at the park or invites a crop of married couples to her dinner parties. It’s only natural that newlyweds and/or new parents will seek moral support from peers who are in the same place in their lives.
When you feel like you are the last item on your friend’s priority list, the important thing to remember is that your friend still loves you.
The New Parents
Watching friends become parents can be difficult for people who are very close to them. As “the old friend,” it can be hard to accept that your once integral position in their lives has become a less-needed role.
The feelings are contradictory, and that’s what makes it difficult. On one hand, you are happy for your friend, you love her baby, but you can’t help but feel a sense of loss. After all, you used to hang out at least once a week. Now it seems you’re lucky if you see her once every six months.
Stop feeling guilty, because your feelings are completely natural. It’s okay to allow yourself to grieve the passing of the old relationship or the way things “once were.” So maybe you aren’t gossiping over martinis on the porch until dawn. You can still bond with your friend during Gymboree dates with her charming toddler.
When your contemporaries are immersing themselves in the family life, feeling as if you are getting left behind is a normal response. Akin to the empty nest syndrome, you may feel that you are no longer needed as much in their life.
Witnessing the people you care about move on to a different life than you once had together is scary, but inevitable. But look at it this way: these changes are happy ones. These amendments will serve as evidence of how you can roll with life’s unpredictability and of the value of your relationship.
In truth, your relationships will change, but not necessarily for the worse. It may prompt a reevaluation of your life choices or affirm them. But keep in mind that everyone has his or her own timeline and path in life. If everyone around you is going in the same direction, but not necessarily your direction, it’s understandable that your confidence in your choices may waver.
But remember this: just because you aren’t subscribing to the same schedule doesn’t mean you are destined for loneliness or that you will somehow realize what you have been missing when it’s too late. Pay attention to what is right for you and your lifestyle and your goals. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right for you, right now.