I have five married brothers and sisters. With no mortgage, more stamps in my passport than financial assets, and a serious relationship only with my Netflix account, it’s fair to say I’m the odd one out. My mom recently coined me the “family spinster” (thanks, Mom) and the title comes with its highs and lows.
I’m surrounded by partnerships. To be honest, I’m never jealous of my siblings’ relationships. Plus it’s not like they’re super couple-y and sitting there canoodling (which, thank God, because gross). Yeah, at times I think it would be nice, even just a novelty, to have a special someone sitting at the table next to me. It also wouldn’t suck having a designated driver for after all those Christmas cocktails. But for the most part, I know I’m better off being there stag then being there with someone I’ve settled for, so I’m happy to sit tight for now.
I get more quality time with each family member. I love not having to worry about what my kid is doing or check that my partner is okay. I get to bop around to each person and actually spend good, one-on-one time with them. The best part is our conversations don’t involve poo-y diapers or how many nights in a row little Jimmy has woken up dry.
I default to the “crazy drunk uncle.” Sometimes I wear the title like a badge of honor, like at weddings and birthdays. Other times I resent the label; why does being single and childless make you the trainwreck of the family? It’s no secret I like a drink, and yes I’ve shown up to the odd Sunday family gathering slightly hungover, but the concept that having your life together involves a partner and kids is outdated AF.
I’m on the fence about being a mom. I’m the proud auntie to 12 nieces and nephews (and counting). Occasionally, I contemplate the novelty of having one in the tribe that’s my own, like when they’re being cute or hilarious. But then when I see the bags under my sisters’ eyes from getting two hours sleep or one of my nephews loses it because his sandwich was cut in the wrong shape, I revert swiftly back to my “I’ll pass” stance. I love them to bits, but for now, I think I’m good being just an auntie, enjoying the kids when they’re in good spirits but being able to peace out when they turn into the spawn of Satan.
You learn to make fun of yourself. I’ve copped more single jokes than Bridget Jones. I’ve found beating them to the punch and a little self-deprecation is the easiest way to deal with it. After all, I know refusing to settle isn’t something to feel self-conscious about. I know the reason I’m single isn’t that I wear awesome novelty bed socks or can quote “The Grinch” from start to finish. In fact, anyone who can’t get on board with that is simply not up to scratch.
I can be one of the kids. I’ve been lumped at the kiddie table for more than one Christmas dinner. Mostly I’m good with this (except when their developing motor skills result in spilled drinks and liquid shooting in my direction). Being child-free means I can be a child; I can play tag, get the gossip from the older kids and I’m not responsible for disciplining them if they decide to go all Dennis the Menace.
I get home-envy. As with most perpetually single gals, I’ve had more random housemates then Pap smears through my twenties. And despite the luck (and fun) I’ve had with most of them, as I get older, the desire to control the decor and spread my food beyond one measly shelf in the pantry becomes stronger. Seeing my siblings with their own homes does bring out the green-eyed monster in me—not just because they have their very own space but because they only have to pay for half of it.
I appreciate my freedom. I’m never more grateful for not having to answer to anyone than when I see my siblings and their partners bargaining for time away from the kids. A simple movie invite will result in a game of tit for tat, where no fun activity comes without a price. I would hate to need permission to go overseas, let alone to stuff my face with triple butter popcorn and Raisinets.
There’s extra pressure to make a good choice. Being the last one left to introduce someone to the family, there’s extra attention on potential candidates. It doesn’t help that the last person I brought home was kind of awful, but now more than ever I feel the pressure to make good judgment calls. Although with the dating game being about as fun as a bikini wax, I’m in no rush to go looking for the next guy to bring home. So for now, it’s the spinster life for me.