A couple of years ago, I was informed that one of my preschool friends was pregnant at the age of 22.
My reaction was predictable and disgusting.
My first thought was: her life is ruined. She is forever attached to this being that will suck up all of her time; she’ll never be able to finish University; her long-distance relationship won’t last.
Afterwards, I gossiped about it to my fellow former-classmates, with unbelieving hushed tones. We judged, we tsk-tsked, we said things like “this better never happen to me!”.
Now, as I look back on this, I see that that was exactly the problem.
I saw my friend’s pregnancy through my Gabby-glasses, and was appalled because I’m definitely not ready to have a kid. How is it fair to judge other people’s very huge life choices through the prism of our own experiences?
After reflecting on the situation a little bit, I figured I would pay my friend a visit. My first friend to have a baby! That’s huge; I shouldn’t miss out on that. So I bought a huge storybook for the baby and headed out to the suburbs.
I can’t really explain what it felt like sitting on that couch with one of my oldest friend’s kid in my arms, surrounded by “Welcome Home!” balloons. It definitely felt surreal, but nothing at all like those despicable feelings I had when I first heard the news. It was wholesomeness and happiness woven in the intricate love that’s found between a mother and her child.
I’m at a time in my life when a lot of my friends are reaching the typical milestones that line a mid-20s’ lifepath. Some are engaged, three of them have babies, at least one couple has bought a house together.
That first experience of shock and subsequent acceptance now guides my thoughts and behaviors whenever I hear one of my friends has taken “the next big step”. It’s now to a point where I’m genuinely happy! When one of my very best friends announced her pregnancy to me, I was ecstatic because I know that this was something that she truly wanted. My role as a friend, then, is to be there for her, and squee at all the baby pictures she sends me.
If your friend announces something she knows is a “big deal”, chances are she’s already pictured all the possible “reaction scenarios”, from the angry and bitter friend to the super happy one. Do her a favor, and try getting to the latter; life is already hard enough as it is. Being a friend comes with its load of responsibilities, most important of which is being part of a support system. That means exulting support whenever needed, even if your own opinions don’t exactly align with theirs. Judging and gossip are hurtful, and I, for one, truly resent my part in propagating that negativity.
In fact, I got to see exactly how wrong my prejudgments of my preschool friend were; she graduated from her Bachelor’s with honors and is now in her second year of law school. Her relationship is still going strong, and her two year-old is absolutely gorgeous.