Growing up never gets easier

By Kristina Jackson

There are moments in life when you realize everything is changing.

I had one of those moments this week when I received a baby shower invitation for a friend from high school.

It wouldn’t have been quite such a shock to my system if it hadn’t arrived less than a week after a bridal shower invitation for a friend from college.

And both showers are in April.

Next month, I will attend showers for two friends who are both going through major changes in their lives.

We’re adults now, and that is very weird for me.

I made a major change in my life last year by moving to Manhattan and into my own place for the first time.

I was self-sufficient for the first time in my life. It’s a big transition, but that seems minor when compared to the changes my friends are undergoing.

Like my friend who is pregnant with her second child, and having a baby shower in two weeks. We’ve been friends since we were 12 years old, and I still have trouble thinking of her as someone’s mom – let alone a mother of two.

SHE WAS the first of my friends to take a major life step like this, when she got married 3 1/2 years ago. We were 19, and I couldn’t believe then that my friends and I were old enough for something like that.

Then we were 21, and she found out she was pregnant with her first baby. I was a junior in college and, again, I had a hard time accepting that someone my age felt mature enough to choose to become a parent.

Now that’s she’s getting ready to have a second baby, it’s another reminder that we’re not little kids anymore – especially when it comes on the heels of the engagement of a college friend.

She’s involved in one of a rash of engagements that have popped up on my Facebook feed in the last year, but the only one of my close friends to get engaged in that time.

This is a girl with whom I extensively discussed “Harry Potter” and “Glee” during sophomore year. We had late-night movie evenings with our other friends on the floors of our dorm rooms.

We’ve done so many silly, childish things together – and now she’s making a lifelong commitment to a guy who, I admit, is very nice and probably perfect for her.

My friends are at points in their lives where they are independent and mature enough to make huge life commitments.

OF COURSE, different people reach these stages at different times, but I have to admit, I’m nowhere near ready for that level of responsibility.

I’m comfortable with where I am. I have my own apartment. I feed myself every day. I get myself up in the morning and get myself to the newsroom. I pay my bills on time.

And that’s about the level of responsibility I’m prepared to handle at this point in my life.

That’s probably why I’m shocked that my friends are actually ready to put others first in their lives. When you get married or have kids, you have to consider other people’s needs along with your own. And that’s not something I’m prepared to do yet.

It’s enough effort to make sure I give myself more than 15 minutes to get ready in the morning. I don’t think I can get a child ready to go to day care, too.

The older I get, the clearer it becomes that everyone is different and has a private path. My friends are ready for certain steps, while I’m not. We’re just at different places in our lives.

It’s also much more obvious that nothing stays the same. People move.

People get married. People have kids.

And that’s great. It’s just incredible when you realize it for the first time.

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