It seems to be quite bizarre that my group of friends are entering our thirties without children. It's something that has made my life, up to this point, easier. I knew the tide was approaching, but I didn't expect the tides to change quite so rapidly.
While I still have a handful of childfree friends, they do seem to be dropping like flies. My childfree sista, the girl who gave me a word for what I was, the one who started a controvery with a mutual mom friend by joining a community that was labeled a "hate group"... she's dating a man with kids, something she swore she didn't want to ever do. But you can't help who you fall in love with, I guess. But that's not even that big a deal.
The bigger deal is Lori, who just announced her pregnancy. All of my other parent friends are people I've known only as adults. My best friend was a newlywed when we became friends. But Lori… I've known her since we were 5 years old, she's my not-my-sister, my lifelong friend. The fact that she's going to be a mom… It's just especially weird.
I am ecstatic for her, but there's something about this pregnancy that's affecting me more than most, making me feel more out of the loop than most.
It reminds me of high school… wanting to be popular, but having no desire to do the things that were required to be popular. Shallow, vapid, slutty… words that I used to describe the "cool" kids at school. I never wanted anyone to use those words to describe me, and yet there was something about the acceptance that I always wanted.
All of my other friends with kids — or friends who are trying to have kids — are people I've known only as adults. But Lori is different. She's like my sister. Knowing that she's going to have a baby is like a reality check that I really am growing up.
I'm okay with that. Relationships change when kids come into the picture, and I see the end of my relationship with Lori as I know it. Hanging out with Lori is drinking and dancing and getting crazy. It's an excuse to deal with Wrigleyville bullshit. It's high-end martinis, the expensive restaurants that her husband works at, it's partying but in a different way than my other friends party. It's watching her kick ass at roller derby and impress boys with her muscles, talking like a sailor, sharing Army stories and shooting the shit with her union buddies (she's an electrician).
And she's going to be an amazing mom. But this is necessarily going to change a big part of who she is. She plans to stay at home, and I anticipate Lori's rough edges that make her Lori softening. I miss her already, and she only announced that she was pregnant this afternoon.
And I see this world that she's approaching, the world other friends are in or dying to be in, and I wish there was a way to join the club without joining it. I think about Lori & Jer's baby and how I want to be a part of its life, but at the same time babies make me so uncomfortable. This child will be my niece, if not by blood, and it's taking me back to when my oldest niece C was born, my first husband and I looking at the child terrified, knowing that we loved her but saying my god, who would do this on purpose when no one could get her to stop crying or she threw up all over the backseat of the car and started choking and I had no idea what to do and I was screaming at my mom to pull over NOW because I can't handle this. It's things like this that force me to admit it: I don't like babies. I may love the child, but I don't like babies.
Why do I feel this horrific rush of guilt by saying that? I already feel inhuman enough when people at the office bring in new babies. The women hear the words "baby in the office" and they coo and giggle and rush off to wherever the baby might be for the chance to hold it, to smell it, to nuzzle and cuddle with it, and I can't get far enough away. I don't see a new baby, even my newest niece Josephine and say "gee, I want one of those." Family looks at me strange when I say I don't want to hold her. And while I loved touching my best friend's newborn's soft little head, as soon as he started crying all I could think is "get it away from me". And it's not the child's fault. I'm just not maternal, not wired that way.
I feel like accepting this as fact, that I'm just different, makes me a freak. I'm back in high school and I'm the freak in the flannel shirt and the heavy metal t-shirt and the combat boots beside the girls with their cute hair, expensive shoes and Guess? jeans. I'm the smart kid who finds high school boys annoying and immature, and the girls too for that matter. I'm the yearbook geek.
But I took some pride in that identity. In this identity, this childfree woman who doesn't like babies and is creeped out by the idea of touching your pregnant belly and feeling the alien baby kick… in this identity, when I'm surrounded by these thoughts as my little sister begins softening and becoming "Mommy"… I feel only shame. A fleeting moment, to be sure, but still...