We’ve all been there: Those mixed feelings you get when a friend announces her engagement. Or when another reveals she’s pregnant. Or when one gets a promotion on top of already having a great job. Of course you’re thrilled for them—but after, you can’t help but wonder if those major life moments will ever happen to you.
But you know what’s ironic? When I’ve been in those situations, my friends never would have thought I was feeling that way. Sure, I vented and complained about my own situations when they called for it, but never in their moment of happiness would I let on to feeling so far behind. Why would I? As women, we’re taught to support one another, raise each other up, and celebrate our victories. And, yes, we know to listen and be there when things are tough, too. But rarely do we get the chance to wallow in uncertainty with our friends.
Maybe that’s the problem.
How do my friends know I’ll find the right guy? How do they know I’ll always succeed in my chosen field? How do they know it will all work out? Sometimes, in an effort to make those we love feel better, we neglect to just…listen, to let those feelings be, to offer support but not guarantees.
In the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory, what started out as a rare girls’ night out trip became a therapy session of sorts in a book store’s parking lot. New mom Bernadette left Halley in the care of honorary uncles Stuart and Raj to hit the club scene with Penny and Amy. When the trio realized that the club had actually closed and been transformed into a book store, they sat in the car wondering if it was even worth it to go out at all.
And then, Penny admitted she was sad that Bernadette had a baby.
It’s not that she doesn’t love Halley or her friend, but seeing her welcome a new life in the world made her rethink her own situation. “I didn’t think it would make me have all these feelings…[specifically the] pressure,” Penny confided. “She’s [already] looking at preschools! She has a minivan, even a 401k! Before she talked about it, I thought it was a race!”
What’s ironic is that Bernadette never felt comforted by any of those things. She wasn’t that mom-to-be who plans out everything from nursery decor to mommy-and-me classes. Penny knew that, of course. It was just the idea that Bernadette’s life is changing in a way that society pushes as “the norm” while Penny’s hasn’t exactly been the one she dreamt about.
“Leonard and I have been married for two years, and we’re no further along than when we were dating,” she admitted. Sure, she has a well-paying job in pharmaceutical sales, but as we’ve seen in previous episodes, it doesn’t offer the fulfillment or creativity she hoped it would.
Bernadette was quick to shut her friend down—and try to make her realize that just because she (Bernadette) has a husband and child that doesn’t mean life is figured out. “Being a parent is terrifying,” she exclaimed. “I’m constantly worried. I’m always tired. And in a few minutes I’m going to milk myself in a book store parking lot.”
Bernadette also called attention to the fact that Leonard is so in love with Penny that he married her twice. While true, that didn’t exactly sit well with Amy, who is unsure of what the future holds with Sheldon. “I’m not even engaged once! I don’t even know if Sheldon thinks about marriage. I’m not getting any younger. Honestly I thought by now…I’m sorry, I can’t help it,” she said through tears.
What no one pointed out was the fact that Sheldon did almost propose to Amy; that in the span of 14 months they’ve slept together twice (a monumental feat for this couple), moved in together, and have actually become closer than ever. While Amy’s concerns aren’t unfounded, they aren’t as dire as she made them out to be. Neither was Penny’s.
Every couple and every relationship moves at their own pace. Even the time we spend being single! What’s important is that we take time to realize that. Myself included. That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel annoyed because that’s fine, too. That’s why what was different here was that even though all three women tried to offer up support at first, they eventually just let things be. There was no very special lesson, no moral of the story, no neat and tidy end to the scene. Just tears and a joke about Bernadette lactating.
When has a sitcom done that before?
A new episode of The Big Bang Theory airs next Thursday at 8 P.M. ET..
By the way, check out the adorable Lego-inspired vignettes that Warner Bros. TV created for The Big Bang Theory: