Friday, April 11, 2008

Just a simple question

I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that it was a rhetorical question. She’s long been befuddled by me not wanting a baby, but as she bounced her six-month-old daughter in her arms as I paged through her admittedly adorable baby book, she mused about already wanting another, and another, and another. She pointed at a particularly cute photo and said,

“Seriously, how could you not want one of these?!”

I chuckled and moved along and nothing more was said, but the comment stuck with me more than I wanted it to. I had a thousand reasons why, a big one from just an hour earlier as we sat down for our amazing dinner cooked by her chef husband. Delilah got fussy, and we had a hard time sitting through dinner without her dominating the table. And while I hadn’t seen my friend since her baby shower and she excitedly referred to our visit as some much-needed grown-up time, it really wasn’t. Sure we all shared a bottle of wine, ate fancy food and hung out as adults, a great deal of the evening was about the baby.

I expected that to be the case and embraced it. I wanted to get to know her daughter – we’ve known each other since we were 5 years old. My husband and I had fun watching the baby while she and her husband went out on the balcony for a smoke, but were left thinking “my god, how would we possibly entertain this child for even an entire day”. Hell, even an hour would have been challenging, because Delilah is still at that stage where she’s, well, not terribly interactive. There’s only so much you can do with an exercircle and, well, while it was super adorable when she started mimicking our faces and the way we clapped our hands, the novelty eventually wore off and we got bored.

And there is a bit of a rift there, the unspoken awkwardness that I usually feel with friends who are new moms who haven’t really seen me interact with kids. It’s subtle, possibly imagined, but it’s there. It’s there and it makes me wonder if her question, “how could you not want one of these?”, was her reaching out to see if there was a connection. Perhaps it was the accusatory “if MY baby can’t make you want one of your own, then something REALLY must be wrong with you” thing that I’ve felt before, perhaps it was just disbelief, perhaps it had nothing to do with me and it was just an expression of glee about her baby, which I’m hopeful it was. Except I feel like it wasn’t that simple. It’s that little chunk of “us” that I suspected would be lost when she became a mom coming to life, saying “remember when we dreamed of our kids growing up together when we were little? We can still have that. It's not too late.”

But that hurts. So instead I’m going to pretend it was a rhetorical question and struggle to put it out of my mind.


Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post. Captures so well the subtlties of being a childfree woman in a pro-natal society.

We are not mainstream. As time goes on this becomes more noticeable and more comfortable. Wear it with pride. Don't make excuses for being yourself. Friendships need flexibility and sometimes they need breathing room. Learn to make new friends, even if you don't move every two years (like me)!

I will be live and in person at the BlogHer Conference in San Francisco, CA July 18-20, 2008. Yep. I will be one of a half dozen or so panelists speaking on the topic Childfree Women Bloggers now slated for July 19th.

Hope you can make it!

Bridget said...

Yep, moms are always making comments that seem to point to some 'abnormalcy' or perceived emptiness in me/my life as well. I would still rather die than live to live the life of a mother.

Beautiful post - eloquent, and so easy for other CF women to relate to.

Amy said...

So often mothers take rejection of motherhood to mean a personal rejection of their babies and, by extension, a rejection of themselves. If you were allergic to shrimp, they would probably try to convince you that THEIR shrimp recipe wouldn't make you sick.

Elizabeth in Iowa said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for writing it in a way I cannot verbally express. I like kids, i love my cousins....however, through my entire life, never, ever a desire for a child. I would be a poor parent, not patient enough... It is SO hard to find men who are on the same wavelength... apparently none exist in Iowa...PLEASE KEEP UP THE AMAZING WRITING

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are amazingly articulate. And a good writer. I get you.

I have the same feelings with my friends with kids. The moment we started drifting apart was the moment they announced their first pregnancy.

She went down one life path, and I, another.

I recall feeling sad. Like it was a death of sorts. I knew our friendship would never be as close as it had been.

And its not. Her kid is 8 and I still mourn the loss.