Monday, January 19, 2009

Why don't they like me? Is it because I'm not pretty? It's because I'm not pretty, isn't it?!

I have a friend that I hung out with constantly from the time we met when our first kids were about two (almost seven years ago) until she had the nerve to go back to work a little over a year ago (I think -- time flies when you're being bitter and unreasonable). 

The stay-at-home Mom experience from a companionship point of view is all about timing. My friend Collette was totally screwed -- she had the first kid in our group. The rest of us were totally clueless and thus about as useful as a bag of hammers. We didn't know they didn't have time to cut open a bag of milk, let alone cook dinner. We bought them sleepers with thirty-four snaps instead of zippers. We called and asked if we could come and visit after seven o'clock at night (idiots! We were complete idiots!).

I had the second kid, so I was almost equally screwed, except I called Collette. She came over and picked up me and Angus and took us out of the house for two or three hours when he was six weeks old, for which I would have kissed her, with tongue, if I thought she'd enjoy that sort of thing. But she was pregnant with her second already, so my first six months with Angus was pretty lonely and desperate at times. Then a couple of others had kids. This was nice because: a) I knew exactly what they were going through, and I cooked them meals every week for six weeks and bought baby clothes that wouldn't strangle the kid or make a sleep-deprived parent cry; b) they realized how utterly unhelpful they had been with us and said oh my God! we had no idea! we should have gotten you groceries! we should have cleaned your bathroom! and I could have said no, no, it's fine, but I didn't I said you're right! You were completely useless and I hated you with the white-hot heat of a million suns!; and c) there was a blissful year or so when there a good pool of people to get together with. There's something about having other people to have tea and cookies with while talking and staring at your kids playing or drooling or strapped inanimately in car seat carriers that is, well, so much better than staring at your kid while eating cookies and talking to yourself (and trying not to pour the boiling water directly in your ear to just MAKE ALL THE LITTLE VOICES STOP!). Then some people go back to work (goddamned people who need their own challenges and interests and --what are they called -- thoughts!), then they sometimes have a second kid, and the community sort of evolves accordingly. But we were the holdouts. It was me and her against the world and four very crafty children.

Then she got a job.

It was hard. My husband travels a lot and my daughter is still home most of the day (my friend's kids went to French school, so they were full-time from JK), so I wasn't looking at going back to work yet (I say, as if either of my high-stakes careers -- retail bookselling/being spat on by customers or audio book editing under a psychotic boss -- is just waiting for me to slip back in and take up the reins) , so I felt both that she was moving past me in the Game of Life and that she didn't have time for me any more. Which she legitimately didn't, but you have to understand, when I call someone to ask them if they want to do something, I'm already bracing for rejection as the phone rings, and if they say something really mean like "I'm sorry, I'm busy that day, can we do it another time?" then I'm backing off pretending that I didn't really want to see them at all, and I already had an invitation to dinner or the Academy Awards that night, and I was just trying to be nice. 

So I didn't handle this well. Instead of just being a little sad about how life goes on and things change and some of those things suck a little, I decided that we'd never really been friends, she was just hanging out with me until she got a better offer, and her every Facebook update seemed to be a veiled taunt at me (what? you're getting drunk and it's not with me? you're going shopping and it's not with me? you're about to fool around with your husband and ... you get the picture). I would send her breezy, nonchalant emails and be livid if she didn't email me back within ten minutes (because why wouldn't she be waiting by her computer at four a.m. thinking I might email her?).

It was sad. It was ugly. It was beyond moronic. Now that I have a husband and we have a relationship based on trust, respect, communication and the firm understanding that he doesn't touch the rim of my drinking glass while handing it to me, it's like I have to find somewhere else to direct my creepy, stalker-ish, obsessive tendencies. I know I have to work on this in my friendships. It's okay to love your friends, but if my serotonin levels dip I get way too needy and then it all becomes about who does more for who, or who calls who more often, or who said my kid would be cuter once he got some hair one day seven years ago. And it's really no way to conduct a friendship. So the other day I emailed her and said so, I kind of miss you and I was just wondering, hint, hint... and she emailed me back and said I kind of miss you too, you creepy stalker-ish loser, and so everything's great again except for those six months of my life that I'll never get back. Anybody know how to be a role model for your kids when you're not, strictly speaking, anything resembling an adult yet?

I was going to review Hunger by Elise Blackwell, but it's about the siege of Leningrad during World War II and people starving to death and I'm afraid if I put it in a post with this puerile, self-obsessed, whiny drivel, the computer might actually self-destruct. I'll do it tomorrow, when I plan to be much more centered and level-headed. Seriously.

2 comments:

Heather K said...

Oh My! I wonder who you are talking about....I hear you and understand from the other side of the back to work topic. I am sure she does too. Lets try to meld our schedules together to hang out sometime.

Bibliomama said...

I know, I know -- names have been changed to protect the innocent. I'd love to hang out.