Aspen Princess: There’s a price to pay for happiness
“They just don’t care,” my friend Tara said when we met for coffee the other day, rolling her eyes for emphasis. “You’ve chosen a different lifestyle, and they just don’t care.”
She picked up my phone, gestured at me with it and plopped it back onto the table.
“Since we’ve been sitting here, you’ve shown me one video and three photos of the baby drooling,” Tara said. “People who have decided not to have kids, they don’t care.”
I was complaining about a few friends of mine who have not so subtly dumped me since I had a kid, as if having a baby is some kind of contagious disease or like joining a cult.
“Every time I hear someone talk about how motherhood has changed them, I throw up in my mouth a little,” one said.
When I asked another friend why she hadn’t called me in so long, she said, “I don’t really understand your schedule. I’m afraid I might, like, wake up the baby.”
Tara doesn’t have or want kids, either. The truth is we hadn’t seen each other since my baby shower, and I think we both knew the conversation we were having was also about us. We’d only made plans to get coffee because we finally ran into each other at Lululemon, where she was complaining they didn’t have anything she wanted in a size 4.
“I’m a size 8,” I told her, “so does that mean I’m twice your size?”
Even though we’re the same height, she weighs 20 pounds less than I do and always looks very chic and put-together. She’d just gotten done telling me how anyone can be skinny if they really want to be when I was admiring how thin she was.
“Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels,” she said.
“Not true,” I protested. I told her how I hike and do yoga every day, though truth be told, I did neglect to mention the little ice-cream-cone habit I’d developed this summer.
“Yoga, what a joke,” she snorted. Tara is European and thinks yoga is the biggest racket she’s ever heard. Tara is super-honest, if not a bit cynical, but I prefer people like that because at least I know they’re being genuine and chances are good they’ll be less likely to be offended the next time I put my foot in my mouth. So I listen when Tara tells me I’m being unreasonable.
“Now you have everything you wanted,” she said. “You have the husband and the baby; you have a family. Don’t tell me you didn’t think that was going to come with a price.”
Tara explained it like this: Now that I have a family, my family comes first. She can’t depend on me like she can depend on other friends who don’t have kids, which is true. And chances are we’re probably not going to be interested in the same things anymore unless her idea of a good time is spending a hot afternoon at the Basalt pool.
The thing is, I’ve been there. I’ve cried or had a tantrum or taken it personally whenever another one of my friends told me they she was pregnant. I pretended to be happy and acted like I was interested when all she wanted to talk about was how her boob sprung a leak when she were in line at the post office or how she hadn’t slept in three years. I remember feeling annoyed and thinking, “You should’ve thought about that before you decided to have a baby.” But still, I went through the motions. I pretended to care.
“But if you are really friends with someone, wouldn’t you support them in whatever they’re doing whether you’re interested in it or not?” I asked Tara. She shook her head.
“You have a different lifestyle now,” she said.
That’s the part of the rationale I don’t get. Like, I don’t have any sisters, but does that mean I don’t want to hear about how much my friends love their sisters?
And the thing that really gets me is that it’s been really important to me to maintain a sense of self. I’m still me. I still do yoga and talk about yoga more than most of my friends who aren’t into yoga would prefer. I still hike and bike and color my hair and read tabloid magazines and spend too much money on shoes.
But after listening to her lament a recent romance with a totally irresistible but totally unavailable, perennial bachelor who is pushing 50 and acts like a frat boy, I know she’s right. When she invited me to a party she hosted a few months ago, I was dismissive. I think I waved it off with a simple “So sorry I can’t make it. Have a great night!” as if it were obvious that I wouldn’t be able to attend because (ahem) I have a 6-month-old at home. That party meant a lot to her, and if I didn’t have the babes, I would have gone.
The truth is I get spit up on at least once a day and I don’t even care when my kid’s regurgitated milk runs down my arms and legs or lands in a puddle on the floor. I post a million photos of the babes on Facebook even though I know it’s annoying because I think he’s the most beautiful child who has ever been born and everything he does is fascinating.
I do think about him every minute of every day, and my chest gets tight when I leave him, even for a few hours. I check on him at least once a night to make sure he’s still breathing and have started praying to a god I don’t even believe in to make sure I die before he does.
If it means having this precious little love in my life, then I’m willing to pay the price.
The Aspen Princess apologizes to anyone who just threw up in their mouth. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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