Dig Baton Rouge

The Bitter Lemon: Birthday Party for One

By Holly A. Phillips

Every year around my birthday, I do a lot of reflecting. For me, July 2 is New Year’s Day, minus the peas and cabbage — a time when I can look at the past, and set a few goals for the future.

I’m turning 29 this year, and until my friend pointed it out, I wasn’t thinking about it as the last year in my twenties.

Now that I’ve done the math, I’m feeling a little bit of pressure.

As a child, I always wondered why my mom wasn’t excited when her birthday rolled around every September. She would announce her new age with a tone of gloom in her voice.

I always thought of age as nothing more than a number, until I turned 25.

Since then, I feel stressed to act a certain way, or to have certain goals.

And it’s not about crow’s feet or what’s on my driver’s license (I still get carded, so that’s a positive), it’s more about what I’ve accomplished.

In Baton Rouge, we judge people on where they went to high school, and then we judge them on their wedding, their spouse, and their kids.

With none of those things (I didn’t go to high school in the South), I start to wonder about my checklist.

For starters, I’m not sure if I really want to get married. There are less than a handful of marriages I’ve seen that are decent, so I’m not sold on the idea yet.

A few years ago, my mom asked me what kind of couple I pictured myself being in — a power couple? An independent couple?

“I’m not really sure I’m ever going to be a part of a couple, so I try not to think about it,” I said. I really am The Bitter Lemon, aren’t I?

But it was true. I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to be looking back on my 40th birthday, disappointed.

There are days when I’m really happy being single, but there are other days when I wish I had someone to share things with.

Of course, I’m not hoping that I’ll be 65 and single, but I feel like it’s not out of the question. If this does happen, I most definitely need a plan to avoid any further cat-lady tendencies.

As far as children go, there’s only been one time in my life when I pictured myself as a mother. I was in a serious relationship with a man I wanted to marry, so badly. I could see him coming home from work, me putting dinner on the table, and our kids running through the house.

But many birthdays have passed without any part of that image actually happening.

I don’t love the idea of being a mom so much that I would have kids on my own. I know I need a partner, a partner who really wanted children, for me to be a good mother.

Single and no kids at 29; is it a failure? Of course, I don’t think so.

But I’ve noticed as I get older that I’m starting to feel a certain way about these rites of passage I haven’t reached.

A few weeks ago, I saw a “We’re Pregnant!” post on Facebook from a guy I went to high school with. I don’t even want kids, yet seeing his news made me feel without.

For now, I’ll just blame Mark Zuckerberg for making me feel unnecessarily crappy about my pretty awesome life.

Really, the only measurement I can hold to my life this far is my happiness.

Happiness, right now, isn’t about walking down an aisle, or taking care of a child.

One day, perhaps it will be. But today, happiness might be a great workout, and the next day, it could be an order of pad Thai. Some days, it’s a great date.

And while couples might view my happiness needs as petty and selfish, that’s the one right I have as a singleton. My good moments don’t need invitations or black ties, just an RSVP of one.

Read more about Holly’s life as a singleton on her blog, TheBitterLemon.com. 

For the Birthday Girl

A Wish List for the Single Woman:

1. Drinks: Be it wine, a lemon drop, or a bottom shelf bottle of whiskey, every woman needs a birthday buzz.

2. Chemical Reactions: Chocolate and love release the same chemical in a woman’s brain. So if it’s not love, get thee to Godiva, stat.

3. Compliments: Even the most confident woman loves to hear something nice, especially when she’s one year older.

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