Some days, some situations are easier than others when it comes to babies and kids.
Baby showers, for instance, can feel okay or bring feelings of distant dread. In March, I was secretly relieved when T~ wanted to visit his new nephew on the same weekend as another friend's baby shower. It wasn't really planned that way, but just happened. I am very happy for my friend, but for some reason had difficulty getting excited to go to her shower. Instead, I mailed the gift and we later met for dinner and then she showed me the nursery.
Then, I got an invitation for another friend's shower in May. It was a bit of an impulse, but decided to go because I have not been back to Pittsburgh in three years. There was a good flight sale, and it would be an opportunity to visit with other friends, as well. I was somewhat surprised how well I was handling it. However, I have a friendship with the pregnant friend and a longer friendship with her sister whom taught with me. Plus, I have done some pet sitting for their parents. There are many ties to this family and I am grateful.
For the May shower, it was nice because I got to help out with setting up. Then I was asked if I could help with either writing out the list of opened gifts or manage the flow of gifts. I was open to either task, but with me being the one wearing flats, it was easier to wrangle the present pile with some help from my pregnant friend's nieces. It was nice catching up with some of the other ladies, too. But after glancing around about half way through the gifts, I realized the blessing it was to be helping. It kept my mind busy and the focus on my friend.
I also noticed someone else in the room whom seemed a little sad or tired maybe, but I could be wrong. Showers seem to be more complicated events. When I was growing up and later, but before trying to have a child, I saw wedding and baby showers as celebrations. It was difficult for me to see or understand why people complained about going. But now, I see layers of complexity for whatever the reason.
The other tricky situation is hanging out with a friend and their kid. Sometimes it seems to go better than other times. There are many variables with maybe how I am feeling that day (realized or not), how the child is feeling, how well I know the child or their comfort level with me or adults. Some kids are more open and outgoing and that makes it easier. I think it also depends on the parent. I'm just saying there are a lot of dynamics to juggle. I feel badly about a possible misstep. I may have hurt one friend's feelings a little bit. But, most of the time when the kids were around it was fun and pleasant. My favorite was The Hockey Player (as he sometimes refers to himself) belting out the national anthems for both the US and Canada while swinging in the park.
T~ made the observation as we were coming home from Pittsburgh after meeting more of my friends, "So, all your friends have kids." Me, "Um, yep." Pause, "Well, kind of. That's where we are in life. People have kids." I clarified and reminded him that there are a few without kids, but the ones he met this weekend have kids. This didn't bother him, but I think it surprised him. I think it was that because ratio wise I have more friends with kids than he does. It is what it is. But, I think it gives him more perspective on how much it can fly in my face that I do not have a child.
After thinking about this weekend and the past couple of showers, I think one thing that makes a difference about my comfort level with baby showers and spending time with kids is the level of closeness with that friend and how much of the journey they were present while I was actively trying to be a mom. For instance, the March shower would have been with a whole lot of strangers who don't know my back story. The May shower was different. This friend and her family and another friend know my past and know it well. I think that my friends who knew me and supported me during that time have another lens than those who I met after actively trying. These friends saw the longing in my eyes, the yearning and the heartache when I was most raw. They saw how badly I wanted it and told me how they believed that I would be a great mother. I think they can sometimes be more gentle and forgiving. They want to share their children with me; there is a deeper awareness and trust.
It is not to say that the friends I made after actively going through IF are not compassionate or lacking in being more inclusive with their children. I think it is just not talked about and there is a lot of uncertainty. It is a bit of a fopaux for either person to bring it up. Maybe I just need to be more forthcoming. Sometimes, yes it can be difficult. I cannot predict the triggers. But, the joy I feel from really spending quality time with you and your child outweighs the pain.
Thank you friends who get it. Thank you for being a safe bubble for me to freely enjoy my friendship with you and your children. And sometimes friends it is not you, but the situation in how safe I feel, which may not be something you can control.