I am 32 years of age, and a lot of things make me feel old. For example, I occasionally teach classes to high school students, and the fact that they were born in 1999 recently came up. Hypothetically speaking, I am old enough to be their mother. That is… unsettling to say the least. But when you’re a mom among a lot of friends who aren’t parents, that “holy crap, I am effing ancient” feeling is not a new one. Bring it on, high schoolers. I had kids before most of my friends — I’m awesome at feeling prematurely elderly at this point.
About five years ago, I was the first of my closest friends to get pregnant. In the years since, we have all grown a lot as people, but in terms of our day-to-day lives, mine looks a whole hell of a lot different than it did before my son was born. Theirs? Largely the same, give or take a few details. There’s absolutely no value judgment in the different paths our lives have taken, but the difference can often be stark. Moreover, those differences often translate into them perceiving me as being “a real grown up” while they (correctly or not, depending on which specific friend you’re talking about) view themselves in a state of suspended adolescence, as I suspect so many people do in their 20s and 30s, especially if they don’t have kids. I have to think this is because, for all the strides feminists have made in addressing how we define womanhood and female accomplishment, we still have plenty of messages out there conditioning us to equate “having a baby” with “being a grown-up lady.” (Way to go, society, you’re still the worst.) This, in turn, makes me feel like an old fogey who’s rapidly hurtling towards the grave.
So what are the other ways having a baby makes you feel so much older than your friends without kids? Let’s journey through this mess:
You Always Have At Least One Friend Who Never Fails To Mention That You Have A Kid
Sometimes I can’t believe I’m allowed to have kids, because I feel like I’m still a senior in high school. I don’t know if this is a quirk of the millennial generation or what, but I know a lot of my friends feel that way, too. But whenever I voice this feeling, there is one of them who brushes that aside with, “Oh please, you have kids.” And I’m like, “Ummm, yeah, I assure you that only makes this feeling weirder.” It’s not as though you can show some government official your baby and get a certificate of adulthood. But somehow your friends seeing you in this light can, indeed, make you feel older.
You Don’t Understand How They Can Sleep Or Stay Out So Late
Ever since your baby came into your life and you started keeping a farmer’s hours, you are deeply concerned not only with your sleep, but with everyone’s. Your child’s sleep, your partner’s sleep — everyone’s. So when you hear about your friends staying out until 4 a.m. and sleeping until 2 p.m., you’re like, “What… how is this… but I don’t… why do you…” and then your brain explodes. It explodes because you can no longer understand such a schedule, and it explodes because you realize you have turned into ~a mom~ and you suddenly feel like a crone.
You Are Not As Hip To New Music Or Trends As You Once Were
Wait. OK. So what the hell is a “nae nae” and why should I watch you do it? I don’t know what this is and I’m confused and mildly scared. Is it anything like getting jiggy with it? Or perhaps like the macarena? I know those!
Seriously, my cultural references basically stopped in 2011. So I’ll be like, “Hey guys! Have you seen that new movie Bridesmaids? I just watched it last night. OMG! It’s hysterical! That Melissa McCarthy is going places, let me tell you! In other news, I can’t wait to find out how the Twilight saga ends!” Meanwhile, my friends are looking at me the way the villagers looked at Rip Van Winkle has he descended from the Catskills with his long-ass beard.
The Mom Uniform Struggle Is Real
When you meet up for a Saturday afternoon out, your childfree friends’ clothing is unadorned with butternut squash purees and leaked breastmilk. They can wear clothing that is tailored, and crisp, and probably freshly washed. These days your clothing (which is old because you probably haven’t had a chance/extra money to go shopping for since before your kid was born) has to allow for uninhibited floor play, bending, crouching, and possibly breastfeeding. It also has to fit, which your old clothes might not anymore if you actually birthed the child in question. So the result is you looking dowdy and your friends looking remarkably on fleek in comparison.
Your Shopping Priorities Have Shifted
Your friend: “I went to this trunk sale the other day in SoHo and it was amazing. I got a $750 dress for $75. I am so excited about it.”
You: “That’s awesome! I know how you feel. Yesterday, I was in Buy Buy Baby and all the Melissa & Doug toys were 75% off. Plus I got a humidifier that looks like an owl with a coupon, which took off, like, $25, and a whole bunch of accessories for my stroller with a gift card. It’s basically the most exciting thing that’s happened to me ever…”
And it’s a combination of hearing those words out loud and your friend’s blank but vaguely pitying look that makes you feel approximately 7,000 years old.
Let's Be Real: Your Body Might Be Different
If you have given birth, your body has probably gone through a lot of changes. Even if you immediately lose every pound you gained and fit into all your pre-pregnancy clothes again, you’re still different, and as well you should be, because you’ve been through a ton of physical and hormonal changes. And while I recommend every woman love and honor her body in all its wondrous variety, I recognize that sometimes it’s difficult to look in the mirror and get used to something sort of new, especially when your friends are all looking pretty much exactly the same. It makes you feel… kinda old sometimes.
Images: Harsha K R/Flickr; Giphy(6)