I turned 26 yesterday. To most people in my life I’m only 26. Far too young to understand just exactly how young I really am. I’m at that “in-the-middle” place where I just can’t quite fit in, no matter where I look. Many of the friends my own age are single, career-focused, and busy sowing their wild oats, so to speak. Not long ago, that was me. I was fresh out of college and I wanted the career, I wanted the husband, I wanted to take on the world. In that order.It is easy to understand how 20-somethings get the “failure to launch” reputation. The not ready for the real world, moves back in with their parents, working on my resume, unemployed but aspiring [insert career title here]. In today’s world there is so much pressure to be everything, and to be young and successful. Particularly for women, who are constantly focused on proving themselves with the “I can do anything better than you” mentality. The popular belief that women should have to finish college, earn a high paying salary, and have all their ducks in a row before they even consider the idea of marriage has led to, in my opinion, very unrealistic expectations across the board. Young people now view marriage as the final step in achieving “success”, as opposed to viewing marriage as the foundation for a successful life. It makes sense when that doesn’t happen exactly as planned, young people simply give up. Frankly, I think it’s a symptom of a very backwards mentality and a distorted idea of “success”.
In today’s society, the average age in which men and women get married is now up to 27 and 29 respectively. I guess that means I was married young. Most women are waiting until almost 30 to get married. Viewing marriage as that “final step”. At 25-years-old, 44% of women have had a baby, and only 38% are married. This says to me that our priorities are a bit mixed up. Essentially, in our society it is more acceptable to have a baby, than to be married at age 25. Something is wrong with this picture.
We are told from a very young age that any respectable young lady must grow up to be much more than “just” a wife and mother. Giving women the idea that getting married, having a child, and making the choice to give up her career-obsessed mentality to focus on taking care of the home-front is something to be ashamed of. Shaming SAHM’s into believing that they don’t have a “real job”. Who decided what a “real job” was anyway? Is running a daycare facility considered a “real job”? Is working for a house cleaning service a “real job”? Frankly, in my opinion staying at home full-time is so very real and is so absolutely terrifying that I’m not even sure I could do it. These days, going to work is a break from my “real job”, which is taking care of my family, and my home. Don’t get me wrong, my home life is my world. I love everything about being a mom and wife. I would give anything to dedicate every waking minute I have to my “mom duties”, but that doesn’t mean they are “easy”, and like everyone, sometimes we hate our jobs. Because the one job I truly love doesn’t come with a salary, benefits, and federally mandated break time.
So here I am. 26-years-old, a new mom, and I don’t quite fit in.
I’m too young to fit in with the local “mom’s group”, compromised of women in their early 30′s who can afford to stay home with their kids. The women who “get it”, but don’t quite see me as one of them. I am like the little sister who had her baby before she was “ready”. It doesn’t matter that Baby J was planned or that I am equally financially secure, graduate level educated, and just as “experienced” as any other mother. Somehow, the group of women who fit into today’s “age norm” for having kids always see me as the outcast. Sorry I wanted to attend my kid’s high school graduation before I turned 50. Is that so wrong?
Most of my twenty-something friends don’t really relate to me either. These are my college or high school friends who are either still in school, and hyper-career focused, or newly married with no intention of having kids anytime soon. This is the friend who finds the need to point out to you that they “plan to wait a long time before even thinking about kids”. It’s like OK, I get it, you don’t plan to get pregnant a month after getting married like we did. I’m happy for you. Not that there is anything wrong with waiting to have kids. I admire the ability to realize that you are not ready to have kids. It is a huge life-changing commitment. No judgement here!
So where do I fit in? There isn’t exactly a Facebook support group titled “Newly Married New Moms Between the ages of 25-29″. I guess maybe there should be.