“Allllll the single ladies, allll the single ladies, allll the single ladies…” L enthusiastically belted, wiggling in her seat to her own music.

“Lowen, stop. We’re not all single ladies.” K interrupted.

“We’re not?” I inquired wonderingly.

“Big Lowen, don’t tell me you forgetted about B!” K sighed. She then continued in a matter-of-fact fashion, “You guys kiss lips. You’re not a single lady.”

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Not There Yet.

March 8, 2013

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I just returned from a retreat hosted by women from the States for female missionaries in Paraguay. I am usually not one for women’s events as I find myself largely deterred by gatherings of hormones (I’ve got plenty of my own), sparkles, and girly princess jargon, so I was wary. Very much so. But everyone I knew who was somebody was attending, so what choice had I but to jump off the bridge too.

I wish I could say that my worries were for naught, but the truth is my skepticism did not prepare me even an ounce for how extremely traumatic the experience turned out to be. As it were, I was one of the only single ladies (sing it!) in the group; the other woman was about 90 years old. For a retreat that felt like one long Lamaze class, let me tell you, the discomfort was palpable.

I admit, sometimes I exaggerate a bit for the noble cause of humor, but scout’s honor, no joke, 98% of all conversations that occurred Monday through Wednesday were graphically detailed ones centered around labor, birthing, midwifery, pregnancy, home delivery (and I don’t mean pizza), and obviously, children.

In the dining hall, it would be all “How many children do you have? Do you want more? Why not?” On the stairwell up to the rooms, it was “Oohh! Who was your midwife? Home birth is, like, totally my dream!” During after-hours mingling, various groups made sure to cover the gamut of pregnancy ailments, detailed descriptions of the most recent labor process, child temperaments…anything related (but nothing else) was discussed in appalling detail. Heck, even the chick flick my roommates and I watched during free time one afternoon was What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

It wasn’t even like I was disproportionately younger than the mean age. People just seem to start a lot earlier in these circles. And it’s not that I am by and large against baby-making, growing families, and children (I think it’s obvious by all the Schell pics I put up that I love kids…the cute ones anyway–ha), I’m just not there yet.

Sure, the bloody mental images shared again and again did not do my stomach any favors, but I was most disturbed by how my own lack of stories came to define me at this conference. It was as if I had no identity in this mass group of females because I didn’t have children or these shared experiences to bring to the table.

Nobody asked me about my ministry or why I was in Paraguay or what my hobbies were and why. If anything, it was generally “Do you have a boyfriend? Are you planning to get married? When is that going to happen? Are children a possibility in the future? When do you think you’ll start?”

But at the end of the day, I know who I am–glitter deficiencies and all–and quite frankly, I am supremely relieved to be where I am too. Little chubby chums will come someday, later than sooner I hope, and then I will regale other girls with my own terrifying stories, but until then, I get to enjoy my bachelorette freedom–how I sleep and rise as I wish, how I cook for my palate and cravings, how no one yells “WILL YOU WIPE MY BUM BUM?” at me across the house yet, and how everything on my body is still more or less intact.

After a year and a half of moaning and groaning about “Are we there yet?” because I miss my boyfriend, I am glad to finally grasp that “I’m not there yet” because where I am is good and that is enough.

Cheers and Happy International Women’s Day!

Doing wild jumping jacks for the duration of the microwave time to get exercise in.

Consuming your seven-hundredth cup of coffee for the day and as a result, jabbering inconsciently to yourself knowing full well no one is around to judge you.

Glancing at the overflowing sinkfull of dishes and eating a[nother] brownie instead.

Certainly not shaving your legs for months.

Snickering at your own discordant off-key singing and purposefully mangling the rest of the song at a higher volume.

Frantically cooking up buttered pasta with fried garlic and onions because the latest food memoir on your Kindle has driven you to a voracious hunger frenzy. At midnight.

Dying for even a little good cheese and instead settling for a sprinkling of iodized table salt.

Forcing yourself back out of bed at the last minute to grudgingly brush your teeth even though no one will be around to suffer your morning dragon breath.

Drifting off to blissful beauty sleep in brown tights, crew socks, woolen foot paddles (with pom poms), high-water sweatpants, and yesterday’s wrinkly t-shirt.

Counting the days until a roommate banishes the glorious albeit absurd freedom and instates in its place instead, something worth its weight in gold and then some, SNUGGLES.