Monday, September 17, 2007

Birds of a Feather

When I was single, I dropped married friends. I didn’t do it on purpose, but slowly, after a few invitations to do things got turned down, I just stopped calling. Then, on a whim, I’d remember how cool the person was and call again. We’d hang out, have a great time and promise to see each other more often. Then, as before, they would be busy with their husband and I’d stop calling again. It only seems to get worse with kids.

Or maybe it was a combination of them wanting to spend time with their husband and us not having as much to talk about. When I was single, I’d spend hours talking about who I was dating, analyzing why he did or didn’t call, wondering if it was going to work out, wondering if the woman at his office was indeed “just a friend.” I’d hike along with friends listening to them agonize over their recent asshole boyfriend and I’d empathize and tell my most recent asshole boyfriend story.

Once, when I was dating a great guy/asshole, I was bemoaning why he didn’t call more often and why he never asked me out in public with people if I meant so much to him when one of my married friends said, “Forget about him. There are much better guys out there.” WHAT??? FORGET ABOUT THE ASSHOLE?? Does this smug married woman have any idea what it is like to date in your 30s? She met her husband at 24 and married him at 30. They had their ups and downs, but she never had to face her 30s single. She was clueless. Needless to say, my calls to her, her husband and two kids grew less frequent. Clearly, we were in different stratospheres. And clearly, she did not understand me.

Or did she? When I finally met my husband who is not an asshole, I finally started to understand her comments. They weren’t said to be smug or demeaning, but because she could see what I couldn’t.

Sunday, I hung out with three single women. All amazing, beautiful, successful, smart women. And all single. (Stupid men.) And I felt like… well, like a fish out of water. I felt like when I opened my mouth I was on watch. And then, just like a smug married, I made an incredibly insensitive remark. We were talking about population control and how people shouldn’t just have kids because society says you should. One of the women said she didn’t’ think she wanted kids, but she better decide soon. I said, as the conversation pulsed along, “The decision might be made for you.” She shrugged. Simple. The conversation continued for a bit, and we all broke apart and headed our separate ways.

Then on my bike ride home, it hit me. That was a smug comment. I knew the feeling because I’d been there recently. I know what it is like to look down the barrel of motherhood. The clock is ticking. There is no man on the horizon, and the idea that motherhood – the most innate of all things a woman is supposed to be – might possibly pass by. The last thing you need is to be reminded of the clock. I know the comment came out as insensitive. Out of touch. Smug.

Maybe there is a reason married people and singles don’t hang out as much as they did when everyone was single. We’re just in different places, and sometimes, it's hard to understand the other place.

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