My eggs hurt.

As Kevin and I watched the 1-year-old’s mom unwrap his eighth present, we looked at each other and rolled our eyes.

This party sucked.

Granted, it’s a birthday party for a tyke who can’t talk, and who was far more interested in playing with tissue paper than the group of adults circled and smiling as his mom oohed and ahhed over toys he will never touch. family1_tns

We sat in a generic Holly Springs suburban house with generic colors on the walls and generic Pier 1 decorations all over. A slideshow of child pictures played on the TV. No music, generic conversation held in quiet tones. Toys everywhere. The spoiled babe was the product of Kevin’s college roommate and wife, who don’t seem that happy.

As I looked around, I felt nauseated. The married-with-children dream really wasn’t looking so good. What if I ended up as plastic and boring as these people?  

I got a slight ache in my gut, right about where I get cramps once a month. Maybe my eggs were feeling nauseated, too.

Kevin and I were there with a few other people – the father’s college friends – all unmarried, all childless. We huddled together in a group, shunned by the family members as they played with children and talked with the mom. The father barely spoke to us, mostly blending in with the family. Once you have kids, is that it? Do you pass a threshold into a new world, losing touch with those who are unmarried and childless? It is just too hard to find time to hang out except with other couples and families?

Luckily for me, Kevin is pretty awesome. He agreed with me completely about the wrongness of the event. In our post-party rehash, we decided our 1-year-old’s birthday will be celebrated with beer, a grill and more beer. No presents. All friends, single or with children, would be offered a good time.

He whisked me away to another party, this one in Durham, for a friend of his family’s, who was turning 30. Music played, people danced. Others gathered around the grill. We brought beer to share, dumping it in the designated cooler. The house, not far from Duke University, was an older, renovated beauty with charm, character and no Pier 1 in sight. We had stimulating conversation with an array of people, grandparents, married couples with kids and single people.

“THIS is what I’m talking about,” I said. He laughed, and gave me a high five.

“You and I are going to get along,” he said.

So maybe the married-with-kids thing won’t be so bad. You just have to remember how to have a good party.