Baby and not at all me
My husband and I often have our best conversations when we’re in a restaurant. There’s something about facing each other across a table and being removed from our normal surroundings that seems to encourage us to have state-of-the-union conversations. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve decided this is what we do, and so I’m the instigator. Whatever. On the occasion when we took Bun Bun to dinner for the first time, the topic of conversation was my longing for a fellow new mother friend who lives walking distance from my house. After Mr. Bunny shot down my idea of hanging flyers (Because he felt it had a bit of a “lost cat” flavor to it. Ahem. He’s probably right about that.), he said that at times in his life when he’s wanted to meet people, he’s had the most success by just acting on all opportunities. That painful as it is to leave the house, it’s the most effective way to achieve this particular goal. WHATEVER. Obviously crazy, right? Clearly I can just sit in my back yard and eventually the perfect new best friend will find me.
Implausible as his suggestion was, I decided to go with it, and attended a Baby and Me event last week. It takes place at a former elementary school a mere four blocks from my house, just past the library, a lovely shady walk.
There were some good things about the experience. The other people did not throw stones at me, and I got to hear a ton about what nine-month-olds are up to, which will certainly be useful in seven months. But there were also a few aspects of the experience that made me grumpy and that had the effect of highlighting my sense of isolation.
First, there was the super obnoxious member of the group. He’s a stay-at-home dad, and at first I thought he was just extra defensive about being the only male present, or feeling like he had to work extra hard to show how awesome he is at parenting because he has a penis. But as we went around the circle, the rest of us sat quietly while each person had her say, and he always chimed in with his super-knowledgeable response. OH SYDNEY DID THAT TOO, and here’s how you fix it. So I think he’s just an asshole.
Second, the conversation fixated for a tediously long time on the subject of baby sign. NOTE: if you’re really enthusiastic about baby sign, you might want to skip this part. The development of symbolic communication in humans happens to be something I know a shitload about, and the baby sign craze just chaps my hide. There’s nothing wrong with teaching a baby to use signs (that we know of yet!), but there’s nothing RIGHT with it either. There is zero careful research to show that it does jack shit for your child’s development or has any long-term benefits. And while it might be entertaining to see your kid using symbols before he or she is able to produce words, I think the natural unfolding of language acquisition (which normally involves a period of gestural communication) is a beautiful thing, and why tamper with it? Hate on me if you want, and shower me with anecdotes about your child being so frustrated before she learned the sign for MORE, but you are not going to convert me, and I predict that this craze will die out just as the whole baby Einstein craze has. Ahem. So anyway, I had to sit there biting my tongue for quite a while, which was unpleasant.
Third, I’d gone largely to ask about pediatricians, and the whole room was mad about the very Dr. Jackass I vow to set on fire if I ever see him again. And as a special knife in the side, the woman who seemed most likely to be my new best friend (covered with tattoos, cloth diapering) was the most rapt about how amaaaaaaaazing he is. Sigh.
Finally, I ended up at the changing table with another woman, and we got to talking. She asked how my pregnancy and birth had been, and I told her it had all gone beautifully. But I found myself feeling really weird about just leaving it at that, so I without thinking too much about it, I added that the getting pregnant part had been hard for us. Turns out she’d had trouble, too. I remarked that it was a shitty experience, and she agreed. Then she asked how long it had taken us. Two years, I replied. Oh, that’s not very long, she responded.
Part of me totally agrees with her. It’s not that long. And I’m guessing had I pursued the conversation I’d have learned that she went through some major hell, and I certainly sympathize with her. But I also think she can go fuck herself. And in that moment I was grateful that I recorded my experience here, because when I’m tempted to write off my suffering simply because it was smaller than the suffering of others, it’s nice to be able to re-read those posts, and to be taken back to those dark and painful days.
So…this foul-tempered and highly judgmental bitch has yet to find that new friend. Shocking, isn’t it?