Saturday, November 15, 2014

On Feeling Left Behind

In mid-September, I'd been sitting at my part-time work's desk and had just logged into my personal e-mail when I saw an e-mail from Younger Sister with this subject line:

"New Keys"

That meant only one thing: She'd bought a house.

Let me explain something about my sister: she wants to check things off her list.  She needs to accomplish things, drive ahead, or she will lose her mind.  It's not that she lacks patience; it's more that she wants to dust her hands together and say, "Ah, that's done!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for her.  To a point.  I don't know how good idea it is to put your name and your not-yet-husband's name on the title to a house.  Because there's still no wedding date.  Things seem to be closer to a conclusion on YSF's paperwork, but it's not settled.  And so no one is scandalized, please understand that they're not moving into the same bedroom--he is in the basement apartment and the housemate/good friend with whom she'd been renting a place for the past several years is occupying the bedroom next to YS.

Anyway, as I was saying, I am happy for her.  But I felt a twinge as I read her e-mail and looked at all the photos of their preparations to move in.

The twinge said two things to me.

  1. She's starting to settle into her own place, her own world, with her future husband, with plans for their future, probably their future children's futures, too.
  2. She beat you to getting engaged, she beat you to owning your own home, she'll beat you getting married and having a family, too.  You're going to have nothing in common anymore.  She'll have her friends who are married and/or have kids, not to mention Older Brother and SIL, to talk about married people things and parent things. Oh, and homeowning things, too.

Is there some envy there?  Sure, a little.  But even more so, it's just this sense that I am falling farther and farther behind everyone I know.  Even my little sister.  And everyone has always put us side-by-side for comparison for as long as we've been sisters.  And I've always been the different one while she's been the standard.  Homeowning is another benchmark to which I do not measure up.

I may be the older one, but she's never let me lead the way.  Maybe it's better she hasn't followed me, come to think of it.  But even if she doesn't look up to me, at least I don't get the sense she looks down on me, either.  Not anymore anyway; she knows and is proud that I've come a long way.

Other people, not so much.  I'm not looking forward to the questions and noises of pity, or having to explain.  

It's a guilty pleasure, but I do watch 19 Kids and Counting occasionally, and I just felt for poor Jana, the eldest sister, during the one episode in which all the sisters and other women in Jill's wedding party did a trial hairstyling at the salon.  Jana was (is) not married or even engaged.  Also the maid of honor, like me.  (At least she's like 15 years younger than I am.)

Hairstylist: Are you dating anybody right now?
Jana: Mmm-mm. (shakes her head with a little smile, almost rolling her eyes) 
Hairstylist: Just livin' the single life. 
Jana:  Yep. I am good.
[Cut to side interview]
Jana: I'm good.  Whenever that time comes, hopefully I'll be prepared.  But I- I'm good with just waiting right now.

Gracious in her responses, but you can tell she was tired of being looked at a certain way and asked questions like that.  

I have to practice doing that.

I know it won't be the same after YS is married.  At least not until--unless--I catch up.

I miss her already.




Julia said...

I hope you don't mind my taking the opportunity to rant here a bit. (By the way, I think you used to comment over on Seraphic Singles, which is how I found your blogs.)

I really, really hate that women are shamed for being unmarried. I'm 24 and totally completely single, and luckily for me no one hassles me about it, but perhaps that's because I'm in Australia and not North America, where I think that young marriage is more common. But I've heard the sort of rubbish that's said to North American single women, and I'm really very angry about it.

Since when did being married/engaged/dating become the CENTRE of a woman's life and worth, excluding any other achievement or attribute? I heard someone say that for men, falling in love and getting married is an episode in life, and that for women, it's the main event. I'm inclined to agree that that is how the world does see it. And the rampant insanity surrounding weddings (since when do we have to have FIVE events to 'celebrate' a couple - you know, engagement party, kitchen tea/bridal shower, hens' night, bucks' night, wedding, nearly all of which require financial sacrifice for guests) only intensifies the focus on women's marital statuses.

I don't watch the Duggar show (no idea if it's broadcast here), so I know basically nothing about it, but if what I've gathered is true, Jana is being used by her parents and siblings as unpaid labour and babysitting and should get out now and live her own life.

And if I hear one more time that single women are, by definition, 'selfish', I think I'll just point a finger at the wedding insanity that has gripped our culture.

Mari T said...

Oh yes... my younger sister (and the one who's always been competitive with me)got married last month. Which meant that everything this year revolved around her wedding. It's insane, and wasn't made any easier because my mom would rant/rave about every little thing. I actually had to tell her to not talk about the wedding at all anymore because I couldn't take it. Now I get to go through the holidays, dreading all the times that my parents will comment on how she's "grown up" now. Because all that counts is getting married if you're a woman.Ugh.

Kate P said...

Julia--yes, I remember you as well from Seraphic's blog! Welcome!
Very interesting to have the perspective of another culture, but you're right: all the built-up wedding stuff overshadows the actual MARRIAGE. But being married is being in the club here. I'm on no one's radar because I'm not married or raising kids. Invisible. Or, you know, still playing at being a grown-up.
And all the events! I can deal with a bridal shower. ONE. Maybe TWO, I guess, because YS has a "family" where she lives, she's been there so long. Also, we call them bachelor/bachelorette parties here (or sometimes stag/doe nights) but it just seems like an excuse to spend money, possibly get trashed and in trouble. I backed out of one because it mushroomed into renting a beach house. Too much!

Mari--Ah, you are a survivor! You probably have a lot of stories to tell about the past year. I'm hoping I won't mind the talk, because I'll be helping out as Maid of Honor (Old Maid of Honor), but it's going to be quite the ride, I am sure.
I hope maybe talking here or over at my other blog will be some sympathy for you as the holidays approach. You are not alone! :)

Julia said...

Mari, that sucks. The thing is, NO ONE cares about the wedding aside from the bride and the bride's mother. The rest of us just want the whole ordeal to be over as quickly, not-boringly and cheaply as possible. Also, do you HAVE TO go to spend time with your family over Christmas or whatever? If they make you feel so terrible and don't care, why go?

Kate P, renting a beach house? Do people just have money to throw away or something? Sheesh.

Kate P said...

Sometimes, Julia, I think they make it really hard to attend something so that it excludes the people they secretly don't want to be there--"just us girlfriends from college," or whatever.

Mari T said...

Thankfully the wedding wasn't as bad as expected. There's two other sisters that are single, although younger (I'm oldest) and that has helped a bit. (Moral support during the trauma of THE WEDDING.)

I think the thing that got me was how YS repeatedly stating that she wasn't going to have a large wedding, when she had NINE bridesmaids!

The parents try not to make too big a deal about her being grown up because she's married, but it does slip out here and there.

Mari T said...

PS- I used to comment over at Seraphic's old blog as well, and that is how I found Kate's blogs. Julia, are you the one with Babcia and all her bon mots?

Mari T said...

Julia- My family really is nice, but the wedding stuff was over the top at times. They don't usually make me feel bad,and the comments are almost always unintentional. :-)

Julia said...

Hi, Mari T, yes, I am the one with the Babcia! Haha! I saw her today but there were no gems from her unfortunately.

Nine bridesmaids...oh dear.

Well, congratulations for surviving the wedding. Actually, I don't envy my married/soon-to-be-married friends. Weddings, marriage and family life add up to a lot of financial stress.