Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Misunderstood

My best friend and I had the much-needed conversation that's been put off for too long. Things were allowed to fester, and there are wounds that I'm unsure will be able to be healed. We both misunderstood each other, but while I thought when we spoke that things were resolved, the more I think about it now the more I think that our relationship has evolved past the point where we can be okay.

I lied to her about this journal, that's the main part, but that's only because... well, I'll give you an example. After a day of watching our niece, my husband and I were worn out from the day, listening to Radio Disney, taking her where she wanted to go, saying "no, that's ok, Uncle A and I really wanted to go to [X], but you want to leave, so we'll leave." We humored her with her video game, endured her constant "wanna see something cool"s. And, at the end of the day, we came to a conclusion: we like being grown-ups too much.

That phrase, "we like being grown-ups too much", left me trying to explain why of course she still likes to do grown-up things too, and yes, I know people go to clubs and whatever less when they're older, but I-- but I--

Yeah, fumbling for words to explain that what I said was not meant as an insult to Parents of the World(tm). This explaining of myself, justifying my feelings and trying to find a way to do so without someone taking offense... THIS is why I have my separate journal, where I can be me and talk about things without everyone thinking I'm attacking their lifestyle.

Yet comments like "childfree people like to think they know everything about parenting" are supposed to be accepted by me. Because clearly when we talk about bad parents we're talking about the normal child who has an occasional tantrum at the store, and the mom who's clearly trying to calm him down. I'm talking about HER children if I say that, not the parents who scold their child for crying with a smack on the back of the head, or threats of violence, or the kids who run amok without supervision. No, it's the normal kid having a normal tantrum that offends me.

I was concerned that I didn't give her enough credit when she started asking a lot of questions about A's (unscheduled, merely discussed) vasectomy, and I probably didn't. But the fact is, she doesn't like childfree people, or at least that label, "childfree", and while I have double-standards for parents and kids I know and love, she has double-standards for childfree folk and me.

The question is, is that really okay? On either side, I mean.

I don't know. I just find myself wondering if I'll ever stop feeling like I can't be myself around her. She asked me what prompted me to think that she didn't support me, and at first I wasn't sure. But I think now I know.

If she saw the things I post on this journal, as innocuous as they seem to me; if she read Childfree and Loving It!, the book that's really helping my confidence with this decision, she would be apalled to think that I agree with many of the viewpoints, that many parents are selfish martyrs that feel the simple act of reproduction should give them more rights than some poor sap who never had children. I wish she would read that book, because then she'd see how I really feel, the things I can't tell her I feel, and then she'd be able to see why I find such a disconnect between us.

I honestly believed when I got off the phone with her the other night that things were going to be okay. But I'm not sure they can be. At least not the way they were. I've known her for 7 years now, and we're both different people now. Her children have changed her, and that's not bad, it's just different. I've wanted to believe we could still be "best friends", but this isn't how best friends make each other feel. I'm guilty of changing as well, and I hate to think we fall into that category of friendships broken because one person is childfree and the other is a parent. I'm just tired of living what I feel is like a double-life -- my politically correct discussions with her, and the way I feel when I write here, when I live in *this* world.

There are many more issues than the kids, by the way, although those issues seem to be influenced by the kids as well. She wants me to be honest with her, maybe I should be. The problem is, I don't know what being honest is in this context. Because I don't really know how I feel or what the actual problem is, and there's definitely no way it can be fixed. I just think we've changed, and a lot of that comes since the birth of her second son.

I want it to be better.
I just wish I knew how to make it so, but sometimes something's so broke can't be fixed.

1 comment:

Britgirl said...

I remember this post...Why should you be the one to make it better? what if you can't? If you have a friend and you are unable to be totally yourself and ACCEPTED around them, can they really be your friend? We all change, it's inevitable however I find that the greatest change happens when a women has kids. Most friendships with childfree women diverge at this point. There is no common meeting ground because we're often poles apart in how we live our lives. The kids then become the main focus and everything as you've said, is filtered (and judged) through the lens of the children. The parent makes friends with other parents and find a warm welcome. And we have to find new friends, which can be doublly hard.

Even with my friends who are parents, I can't identify with many of their angsts. It's sometimes as if we speak a completely different language - and there is no translator.