The other day I got together with some girls I’ve known since middle school. It had been quite a few years since we were all together and so we did what all old friends do after a significant time apart.
“So and so got married.”
“This guy has a baby. But not a wife!”
“They’re on their third kid in three years!”
“I heard they got divorced.”
You know, that kind of wholesome catching up we do. And then everyone shared their recent romantic downfalls and triumphs, awkward first date stories, “he had a baby mama the whole time” stories, and “he is straight up crazy” stories. (But also, “he’s amazing and I love him” stories.) I laughed at all the appropriate times, reminded myself not to make everything about me, and did my best to avoid any one-upping.
It was a really nice afternoon and I enjoy being able to essentially pick up where we left off with each of these friends. But I must admit that running around in the very back of my mind all day was the truth that I had no such stories to share. No dates of any kind stories. No “we’ll get married soon” stories. Not even a “I thought I was going to marry him but it turns out he’s a manipulative man child” story.
Last night my friend’s 20 year old brother got married. I was invited to the wedding as “baby wrangler” which is my new favorite way to be invited to the wedding. While my friend was in pictures and in the ceremony and dancing the night away, I was holding her five month old baby boy! And sometimes the diaper bag and the bubbles and always the binky. I was very surprised at how wonderful it felt to be able to give this wonderful hardworking mama a few minutes to herself to sit in the same sanctuary where she married her super great husband just a few years ago and watch her little brother promise to love this girl forever.
During the ceremony I sat in the back of the church with baby Lincoln, Lincoln’s dad and older brother (not yet two years old), Lincoln’s aunt and seven month old cousin, and Lincoln’s second cousin and her parents, I was first of all really proud of Lincoln for winning us the coveted quietest baby award (he didn’t make one peep!) and second of all really really glad I didn’t get that husband and baby right out of college I had wanted so badly.
Here’s the thing about marriage and babies. There’s no going back. Once you’re married you can never ever go back to a time before you were married. I’m planning on marrying for life, which means that after I say, “I do” I will never life another minute as a single, unmarried lady. Once I pop out (or adopt!) that first baby (or child!) it will be impossible for me to go back to not being a mother.
This all hit me last night as I watched people my age missing a wedding ceremony because of their (super precious) loud baby. It hit me again last night as I watched people my age missing out on a wedding reception because it was baby’s bedtime and they had to walk their (super precious) babies up and down the dark hallway, rocking and humming and bouncing and feeding. It hit me last night as I sat across from my hardworking mama friend as she fed her baby and said, “I’m exhausted.”
Last night I was able to sit in a dark room and unashamedly read a children’s chapter book (take that Ruth Graham!), getting up every other page or so to check on sleeping baby Lincoln so that my hardworking mama friend could enjoy a night with her husband and family (and other baby, but I can only do so much). If I had a husband and babies of my own, I wouldn’t have been able to serve my friend in that way. I would’ve been the one rocking and humming and bouncing and feeding. I would’ve been the one exhausted.
And while I pray maybe more than I should that one day I will be that hardworking mama, I am so glad that day is not today. And I’m even more glad that I’m learning how to not only be content with this date-less life but grateful for it. One day I’ll say, “I do” (she says in faith). One day I’ll be a hardworking mama. No going back. But that day is not today and that’s more than okay. Amen?
It’s easy to look at the 20 year old getting married and the 24 year olds buying houses and having second kids and think that I’m falling behind. That I’m missing out. That because I don’t have an awkward first date story to bring to the table that I have nothing to bring to the table. If you’ve ever felt that way it’s not true. If you’re 24 or 34 or 64 and you’ve never said, “I do” or you haven’t bought that house or had that baby, you’re not falling behind. You’re not less than. You have just as much to bring to the table. (She says to herself.)
In the past two years since I’ve graduated college I have been on zero dates. I have been in zero weddings and mothered zero children and bought zero houses. But I’ve been busy.
In the past two years I’ve lived in Brooklyn, San Pedro de Macoris, and Indianapolis. I’ve managed seventy children between the ages of 2 and 12 along with a dozen or so high school helpers. I’ve managed a staff team who in turn managed seventy high schoolers serving and learning in Indianapolis. I’ve translated and taught and tutored in two languages. I’ve watched so much Netflix. I’ve read so many books. I’ve organized and executed a trip to the mountains of Jarabacoa for visiting friends. I’ve ridden so many buses and motorcycles. I’ve driven so many miles. I’ve learned that I can cook and actually kind of enjoyed it. I’ve moved six times. I’ve midwifed at a cat’s birth (more than once). I’ve asked for forgiveness and forgiven in two languages. I’ve learned and loved and encouraged and been encouraged and grown. I’ve sweat a ton.
I’m not falling behind. I’m just doing different things. Which is not just okay, it’s great.