“I’m pregnant!” my friend gleefully announces.
And I think, Well, f*ck me six ways to Sunday, but I instead I jump up and embrace her and say, “Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you!”
Yup, another one has gone over to the Dark Side. My playmate, my buddy, my date for tea and chick-flicks will soon switch discussion topics from the last great novel she read to the merits of cloth versus disposable diapers and the challenges of getting into the “right” preschool/private school/ballet studio. While I bravely continue to pursue political movements, investing options, and the hottest new tapas restaurant this side of the Bay, she’ll be focusing on PTA politics, college funds, and how to get her kid to eat green vegetables.
Before long, the excuses for missing lunch dates (sick baby, sick kid, soccer games) will grow tiresome. She’ll kindly include me in the first few get-togethers with her new friends from the mommies group. I’ll make polite conversation when I’m invited to baby showers and first birthday parties. But eventually I’ll get lost in the mist as she gets sucked into more and more “family” events and senses how much more she has in common with the other reproducers. “Whatever happened to your friend Kathy?” they might ask. “Oh, she never had kids.” “Ohhh,” they will say knowingly. Or so I imagine. This is worse than being the last kid picked for teams. This is being told you can’t even play the game, but if you want, you can watch from the bleachers.
And I’m pissed. But mostly I’m lonely. It’s really, really hard to make new friends when you’re over the age of 40 (and don’t have kids who make making those regular interactions easier). You have to make a determined effort to get out, try new classes, start new groups, and hope to find a connection. It’s not unlike dating, and it can be really exciting, but mostly scary and discouraging. But you carry on, remembering the closeness you once shared with old friends who, over time, could read your thoughts and finish your sentences.
Within the first three years after I moved to my current home city, several of the women who I thought could become part of my new posse became first-time mothers. I didn’t know they were trying; we hadn’t known each other that long, so the topic never came up. A couple had been trying for years, and became pregnant shortly after meeting me. Lisa (our LWB Lisa) found this hilarious and suggested I offer myself out as a fertility icon: Become friends with me, and you’ll be knocked up within 3 months—guaranteed!
After the fourth announcement, I broke down and told my husband how crushed I was, how broken-hearted, how devastating this was to my developing social life. He laughed at me, pointing out how ridiculous I sounded for getting so overly dramatic and self-pitying. And he’s right. Because, really, I was happy for my friends.
But for a short while, I need to lose my perspective and my sense of humor, wallow in self-pity, mourn the loss of my friend, and spend some time on my own Dark Side. Because underneath my happiness for her, I still hurt for myself.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods recently signed up for a 6:00 am Pilates class. She’s hoping to meet other working non-moms there.