There comes a moment, as you’re becoming a responsible, independent adult, when you go online, browse through Facebook, and suddenly realize, “Heavens to Betsy, who are these people and why do they have children and how do they have that life?” You find yourself stalking people you barely talked to in high school who now have two kids. You look up names of the kids that landed themselves in jail early in life, just to see if anything’s changed. You find yourself looking through travel pictures of that girl you went to school with who somehow managed to become a DC think tank member before she even graduated.
It’s a great moment, except when you realize what your life looks like in comparison. Then things seem momentarily horrible. Especially around the holidays.
Let’s begin with travel.
Some of my friends are baby geniuses who have managed to not only get full-ride scholarships, but visit and live in at least five countries within a three year period. The last fifteen of their profile pictures are from fifteen different places in the world.
“Me in Germany! HashtagLookAtMyBeer.”
“Me in France! HashtagParisHoldstheKeytoMyHeart.”
“Me pushing over the Leaning Tower! HashtagHardyHar. HashtagAren’tIClever.”
Meanwhile, I sit at home and take pictures in my backyard.
They are seeing all of the things I’ve always wanted to see.
Meanwhile, I can sometimes not afford to leave home, which isn’t always bad, but, you know.
See this? UNREALISTIC. Plane tickets are not for poor people.
At my age, travel stories are the least of the crap I get subjected to online. Let me rephrase that: travel stories are the least of the wonderful magic of life that I get to inactively observe online.
It starts with the “Your friend is in a relationship with this guy” post. You’ve never met him, you barely talk to her anymore, and suddenly, you know, from just a few awkward photos Facebook pulled from the deep abyss to flaunt, that she must have picked up a penchant for men with greasy sideburns and double chins somewhere in her life, and knowing her (or who she was in high school), you have no idea how, but you’re only being judgmental because deep inside of you, envious, uncalled for resentment is yawning awake through it’s massive jaws.
But it’s sometimes understandable. Now it’s all kissing selfies while lounging in a love seat — let’s have a talk about that someday, beginning with, “WHYYYYY.” —
a museum’s worth of flower vase Instagram pictures, HashtagMyBoyfriendIsBetterThanYours, that you want to do mean things to,
and overly-sentimental, way too cliche’, mildly braggy couplets about having the best, loveliest, greatest man-friend for a boyfriend you could possibly ask for.
Meanwhile, I’m just sitting at my desk with a cup of milk, overwhelmed by it all.
I don’t mean to be a snarky brat, but love, when you’re not in it, is kind of uncomfortable.
My whole family and the people I work with voice their concerns about my dating life all the time, and I have my reasons. coughexcusesthatmakethemfeelbetteraboutaskingmetofixsomethingthatobviouslytakestwopeoplecough.
But they keep prodding.
“What’s it like seeing all of your friends getting hitched?”
“How does it feel to be single at your age?”
There’s nothing wrong with being single. I like to think it’s the magical journey of finding out how awesome you are on your own.
But with dating comes engagement and engagement photos and photos of the ring, and then marriage, and with marriage comes a slew of pictures, cards, cakes with tacky ribbons on them, colors, and sentimental feelings on the Interwebs that remind you of just how alone you are.
First it was travel pictures. Now, every single profile picture for the past year is from the wedding, the bridals, the reception. It’s like social media suddenly becomes the figurative bridal bouquet that the girl next to you catches every time.
They go down like flies, one by one. You graph search “my friends’ fiances” and realize that engagement is like a contagion that everyone has except for you. Should you feel left out? Should you cry? It’s beyond your control, really, you tell yourself. That’s not what all of your hometown neighbors keep telling you, though.
You watch as the young couple suddenly has their own home, a beautiful (usually quite ugly, actually) little apartment stuffed full with DI furniture.
Meanwhile, I’m just like:
They’re posting pictures of their first Christmas tree as a couple.
They’re posting pictures of their attempts at DIY home decorating.
They’re posting pictures of them doing the laundry, cooking breakfast, cleaning their bathroom.
They’re showing off Pinterest recipes that they recently made for their spouse. Thousands and thousands and thousands of Pinterest recipes.
Most of which turned out something like this:
And then they’re trying to do things couples do, like making Christmas cards and hanging strands of lights from the mantle and making initialed stockings.
It suddenly becomes a competition in your puny little mind.
I do those things, too! You protest in your head.
See, I get to do this crap ALL OF THE TIME:
SEE! LOOK! LOOK HOW FUN MY LIFE IS!
LOOK HOW HAPPY I AM!
YOU KNOW WHAT I DID YESTERDAY? CLEANED MY ROOM AND WENT INTO TOWN ALL BY MYSELF. AND I WORKED FOR FOUR HOURS. AND I READ A LOVELY BOOK. AND I WENT AND SAW “THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG” ALL BY MYSELF AND IT WAS GREAT.
SEE HOW FULFILLING MY LIFE IS?! LET ME POST PICTURES OF ME DOING FULFILLING THINGS TO SHOW YOU.
SEE THIS PICTURE?! I SAT HERE FOR TWELVE HOURS TO MAKE MY FUTURE BETTER.
People don’t seem to get how awesome my life really truly is. They don’t truly appreciate how independent I am.
By the time I’m actually doing something fulfilling with my life, the babies start coming. Oh, baby, do they come. All at the same time.
Instagrammed flowers and bridals are replaced with pink and blue things. Cakes that are different colors on the inside, used pregnancy tests, pictures with a haunting pair of empty baby shoes, signs that turn babies into blockbuster hits. “Coming to a family near you!”
And these. These black and white, abstract blobs that really aren’t cute, but still prompt older women in the family to scream, “A BAYBAY? IT’S ADORABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1”
Meanwhile, I’m like, “That’s a baby?”
While I’m making money and making progress with school, my friends are making strange-looking HUMAN BEINGS INSIDE OF THEMSELVES.
They start using language that I don’t understand to prep for baby.
Then baby comes.
Someone finds the time to Facebook, “DARLA’S WATER BROKE.” There are immediately pictures of the mom looking like a tough customer in her hospital gown. Sometimes there are pictures of the birth that no one wants to see.
There are sentences like, “And in the southwest corner of the ring is baby! Weighing in at 9 lbs. and 3 oz. Called “The Cutest Child of All Time” by its associates.” There are lists of names that either have to do with fabric patterns, trees, or variations of the names Bryce, Brandon, Zack, and Kazakhstan.
With that, baby has arrived.
Meet Brazakhstandon Paisley Willow Jones, World!
With the dawn of new life comes the death of my ability to relate to anything its parents say.
Every concept of TMI is immediately lost as my Facebook page is assaulted with talk about baby puke, baby poop, baby urine, adult puke, adult poop, adult urine. It’s like you have a baby and you no longer have social graces.
Conversations about breastfeeding and burping are everywhere, flooded with advice from moms of all backgrounds.
I’m sitting here like, “Hey, did you guys hear about Syria? Hey, did you guys hear about what Harry Reid said? Hey, did you guys hear about the attack against free speech in your nation?”
Remember when that stuff was important?
I’ve now worked out a plan of what to say to get the attention I crave.
“Is it so hard to be a parent?”
“Is it really that bad to have to play with your kid instead of putting him in front of the TV?”
“Is it so hard to not give your kid a name that will be bully fodder for the rest of his life?”
And like I’m cow meat in a piranha pond, new mothers attack.
That baby and the way it’s parented is suddenly everywhere. In dark corners of the internet, in profile pictures, in threads, in comments. Every time a child is born, a biographer is, too. I could tell you what time that baby goes to bed, the bowel movements of that baby, and what its parents want it to grow up to be just by looking through my newsfeed.
“Remember that one time when you pooped all over the place and your mom posted it on Facebook?” Kids will one day say. “Oh, wait. You were two months old. Of course you don’t. Hahahaha.”
I am watching the exploitation of young children every day of my life.
Baby’s life suddenly becomes an advent calendar.
Brazakhstandon is two hours old!
Brazakhstandon is four days old!
Brazakhstandon is a week old!
HOLY FREAK. Brazakhstandon is three weeks old today! Here’s us celebrating his three week old birthday.
Every single twitch of baby’s facial expressions is put online to prove that he is, in fact, a living, breathing, adorable baby.
Meanwhile, I’m like, “Look how cute my sister’s dog is!”
This is what blogs are for, people.
I try to be in awe of the wonder of babies, but mostly, I worry that a baby messing its diaper for the first time is worth publishing online more than the details of my own life. It makes me question my existence.
Just like that, my unexciting world is brushed under a rug. Nobody knows how to comfort my deflated ego when there are babies and young mothers to comfort.
My Facebook friends have passports and husbands and boyfriends and babies and houses and a new-found tendency to tell bathroom stories for everyone to read.
What do I have?
This, beautiful this:
professional selfie-taking skills,
and all the time in the world.
And come our five year, real-life, non-virtual class reunion, I plan on bringin’ it.
_Small print: Ari really adores babies and weddings. As the old saying goes, though, all things in moderation. The post you’ve just finished is a product of her pent up snark and should, by no means, be taken personally or taken as offensive. _