I was supposed to meet a friend of mine for brunch this weekend. The plan was to maybe go to church and then hang out for a bit as it’s been forever since I’ve seen her. So I sent her a text on Saturday night checking to see if we were still on. She texted back – I hope you don’t kill me, but I decided to go to the beach. Can we meet up when I get back (5 or so)? I figured it was a bummer, but a last weekend at the beach for the summer was hard to pass up, so no biggie. It’d be a little harder schedule-wise, but we could meet at 5.
She called me the next morning around 11 – on her way to beach! It wasn’t a weekend at the beach; it was a day trip to the Chesapeake – so basically just a better offer. I was a bit “less cool” with that, but if you know this friend, it’s really not worth getting mad at her for, so whatever. Well then 5 o’clock became 6 o’clock. And 6 became, why don’t you leave your house at 5:45 or 6, which meant 6:30. I hadn’t seen her in a long time and wanted to head in, so I did, but starting out at that time is just not wise for my munchkin. I figured I’d hang out for an hour or little longer at the most so I could be headed out of the city (crossing the bridge) by 8 at the latest. As I sat in the restaurant and baby sweetness decided to start full on screaming with her crying, I wondered what I was thinking in even dreaming I could maneuver the schedule at all. See this is one of those friends who works on her own time – really, in her own time zone. 8 pm really means 9, which really means I’m leaving at 9 and will be there at 9:30. She doesn’t have a car or license, so I used to always plan to pick her up to go places, so I wouldn’t be the first one there – by an hour or more. I’d generally wind up sitting around her apartment for 45 minutes to an hour while she finished showering and getting ready (though to her credit, she usually fed me or gave me drinks in that time. There was one particular birthday (mine) where I did sit starving while she got ready for an hour or so, but then again the ‘errand’ she had me run on the way to the restaurant turned out to be my surprise party, so you have to respect the balance!).
The thing is I accepted this fluidity in her timing as one of her quirks. Sure it sometimes bothered me, but mostly I knew that’s how things went and laughed at her. If I REALLY felt like I needed to be someplace, I told her I was picking her up half an hour earlier (and really, only once (that I recall) did I wind up sitting on the steps of her building waiting for her to come from her partying the night before so that we could head out to go whitewater rafting). Anyway, you see the pattern? And you see I was complicit (although she is a force of nature, so I, in no way, believe I could affect change!). But now I’m finding it harder to be complicit. Because I have a baby.
And so I am THAT woman. That woman that says – you have to work around my schedule because I have a baby. That woman. On the one hand, I can pretty easily argue that it’s rude to consistently change plans and run late regardless of one’s procreative status, but it’s especially hard to plan kids’ schedules around that. It turned out that the munchkin wailed most of the way home, only to fall asleep 10 minutes out from our condo. She woke up when we got inside and then cried to be let out of the car seat and screamed while I walked the dog (I’m sure the neighbors loved that as we walked by their places) and it was hard to put her down for the night. On the other hand, though, what I’m saying is suggesting that we need to change the nature and balance of our friendship – because I now have children.
I don’t think I’d feel so bad about suggesting we now need to follow my schedule (well, the baby’s schedule) rather than hers if, as I explained this to my husband, his reaction had not been – well she just doesn’t understand! Oh man! That one cuts through the heart! How many times have I heard mother’s say that about their childless friends? I swear it was a refrain in conversation from one of my friends. I’ve written about her before – you just don’t understand – I have NO time. I can’t ever take a break or take time for myself because I don’t have time. (Note – this is not a single mother and her baby was fine taking a bottle.) You don’t have kids, so you don’t understand. I couldn’t bother to blow dry my hair before showing up for my best friend’s wedding as her matron of honor because I have NO time because I have a 6 month old baby. You just don’t understand . (For the record, I have a 6 month old and I still have to say I just don’t understand that one.)
Truth be told, I didn’t understand. I now see that this is more than a full time job and downtime has vanished. There are days where I feel like I go ALL DAY. When the baby finally goes down, I am washing bottles and folding laundry to prepare for the run tomorrow. I do sometimes envy my husband’s ability to relax with a beer at the end of a rough day because I don’t feel my day is over yet. I envy him the ability to have “one too many” at a wedding because he doesn’t have to worry about nursing at 3 am – or about being “fuzzy” and unable to catch up before her wake up call comes all too early.
But mostly – I don’t care so much about having “one too many” and most days are not the “those days.” Most days I really enjoy her for a good part of the day (no, not all day. Are you nuts? Somewhere in the course of the day, there are dirty diapers or my back aches from picking her up or she wants me at a moment that I want me!). And even some “bad” days, my husband takes over and I head to the bathroom for a bubble bath with a book and maybe even a glass of wine. Because I’m not doing this on my own and “me time” is still an option now. Sure there’s not nearly as much of it as there was before, but now I get this amazing before unknown “baby time.” And it’s wonderful – more so than I could have imagined. I didn’t know how great that could be. I admit it – I didn’t understand.