I am single (as in never married). Additionally, I have no children. I am a middle aged adult on my own, though I live with/care for my 85 year old father. Despite the fact that my Dad often acts like a 6 year old, I am not a mother. In fact, very far from it, or so I’m told.
Over the past few years, I have experienced episodes of being overlooked and treated as insignificant, and sometimes openly ignored. You see, my friends are all mommies, and when they have the opportunity to spend time without their children, they flock to other mommies for sympathy and support. Other mommies relate well because they face the same daily struggles. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who understand, or so I’m told. I’m left out of conversations, activities, and events because I’m not at the mommy hangouts: picking up a child from daycare or pushing a little one on the swing, and I’ve learned that when I do see mommies, they have no interest in current events that do not involve their children. It’s like I woke up one day and the women with whom I have been friends for decades suddenly have nothing in common with me, and there is nothing I can do about it.
I’ve tried to relate. I listen to the endless chatter about their children, and I share stories about experiences with my niece and nephew, but I always get a look, or a smirk, or an “Mmmm” (non-committal acknowledgment that I was speaking) and it tells me, yes, that’s nice, but you don’t really understand because you aren’t a mom. Some people have actually said these very words to me, highlighting my insignificance in midlife. I’ve made no biological contribution to the future and as a result, there is no room for me at the table. I’m the one who eats lunch alone in the corner which is especially hard for me because I was never that girl as a child. This game is all new for me.
Several of my friends (and other members of my own family) have aging parents, but they allow others (doctors, assisted living facilities, other family members like me) handle it so they can remain focused on their children. It sucks for me. I want to jump up and shout, “Hey, singles are people, too!” but I’m pretty sure no one would listen because that kid over there just skinned his knee, and everyone is looking for the first aid kit, and deciphering whose fault it is, and discussing if needs to go the the ER, and…