Within the past couple weeks, one of my childhood best friends got married, another one found out the sex of her unborn child and a mutual friend got engaged. But most importantly, Little Bear turned one and Big Bear 3 1/2 and somehow they’ve got more adorable.
All of these beautiful, life-changing events occurred and here’s Rachel, the last single friend of the group. She’s just hanging out on the sidelines, sometimes feeling like the world is passing her by and she’s trying to find a cheat sheet that will tell her where she’ll be in ten years, what she’ll be doing with her life.
When I was growing up I always knew that I would get married and have a family, from playing with my Barbie’s obsessively to pushing my cat around the house in a pretend baby stroller (yikes). I never saw myself as a stay-at-home mom, but I never really thought I’d be a career woman, either. I guess since my mom worked out of the house, I assumed that I would have a career that mirrored hers. I always knew that I wanted to go to college, even though I don’t really think my parents would have let me not go, but I never really thought about getting there. To be honest, I never envisioned what I’d do. I just knew someday down the road that I’d have a family of my own. When I was a kid I always thought I’d get married at 22 and have my first kid at 24. Like what!!!!!??? Kids have no concept of time. Thirty sounds ancient and old-age is 60. If 10-year-old Rachel found out that 27-year-old Rachel is single, I’m pretty sure that I would have given my younger self a stroke.
I may have grown up loving books, but it wasn’t until senior year of high school that I decided to become a journalism major in college. Journalism came naturally to me on the high school yearbook staff, and even throughout college. My classmates would groan about the freelance writing we had to do, but I also freelanced for my college newspaper. They would bitch about our unpaid internships and I would put in extra hours. Right out of college I got my job as a business reporter, but I was never really happy. Realizing the paper didn’t have enough money to buy decent coffee or to reimburse us for gas, I realized that the life of a starving writer wasn’t for me.
I tried to go along with the motions of cranking out stories and trying to survive on less than $400 a week which today makes me laugh because I lived at home and didn’t pay a single bill. What was I so worried about? My coworkers, some a decade older than me, always looked frazzled (and not in the cool, writer way). They all lived paycheck to paycheck and worked long hours. My editor (though I respect him now) never warmed up to the young, female writers, especially me, and I took it personally. It’s funny how with time your perspectives on a person or events change. I now realize that he saw that I didn’t have the passion to chase after stories and run to him with leads. And that’s okay. I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re supposed to do with their lives at 22….. or at 27.
Lately, I’m not sure where I fit among all of my friends. I don’t relate to the friends that are getting married and having kids but I really don’t relate to the friends who are still going out every weekend and getting loaded. I just don’t know where I fit! In my early 20s, I was more worried about dating than I was about finding “the one.” I dated men who I knew weren’t right for me because that’s what all my friends were doing. Now they aren’t. They’re getting married and having babies. And here I am, the single gal helping to raise two boys. I don’t know when it happened, but the panic of being single has slowly started to creep in, even though I know I am more than my marital status.
Two weeks ago was Little Bear’s first birthday party, and Big Bear was my unofficial date and kept leaning over to tell me that he loves me and to ask for help with building a Lego car. After dinner, I took my cupcake-covered dress (thank you LB!) and went to hang out with some high school friends. How have we been friends for 13 years already?! In-between drinking and dancing to Pitbull, how very Miami of us, we talked about the upcoming presidential election. One of my friends pointed out that none of us are in our careers like our parents were at our age. But why is this? I might not have a career, but I have my own life. I am financially independent; I have no student loan debt or credit card debt. I work hard to save for my future, even though I have no idea what it has in store for me. I do know that I’ll be okay, with or without a family in tow.
I’m an introvert and a minimalist. I know what makes me happy and it doesn’t require a lot. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why I am so simple, why do I crave the comfort of a family and growing a unit together? My dads’ life used to make me laugh. Born and raised in Miami, he never lived anywhere else. He spent most of his youth traveling, before and after he met my mom. Now he’s a homebody. And he’s really happy. I feel you, dad. I spent most of my twenties visiting friends across the country and sleeping on air mattresses. Now I want to be home. Living my life and hopefully one day creating a few fourth-generation Miamians.
I can’t help but worry that a part of me is so lost in the work world that I am settling for the hopes of my own family. But if I was a career woman wouldn’t I be out there, trying to make something of myself? I graduated college five years ago. Shouldn’t I be in the midst of my career?
I realize that this blog is less about the Bears and more about their confused nanny (sorry everyone!) Summer is officially over and Big Bear started PreK this week. I think I’m most confused right now because school started, which means another year has come and gone. Big Bear is off to prep school and Little Bear isn’t far behind him.
I think getting back into a routine will help calm my nerves. The Bears and I spent our summer bouncing between the zoo, Seaquarium, museums, and parks. Little Bear and I are back to our morning playdates, walks and stretches, but now he’s almost walking. Our routines are about to change forever! Even though it feels good to be getting back into a routine, its kind of a whirlwind. Every day I’d walk into the door this summer and none of us knew where our day would take us, which park in our Summer Park Pass we’d use that day. Kids don’t realize that structure and routine are important, but I think they are looking forward to it. I think that I am, too.