But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Thursday, March 01, 2012
To My Friends Who Got Married and Had Children Before I Did
Dear Friends who had Children before me,
Let me start off by apologizing to you. It’s not that I expect for us to remain friends forever, or that we’d hang out and do dumb things like we did in high school and college years after we’d finished school. I know we wouldn’t be going to trivia night at BW-3 on Wednesday for the rest of our lives. I should have known when you got married and stayed in the suburbs, or moved to the suburbs in some cases, that we were on a different schedule, that we had different paths. I still valued you as a friend, but it was hard to hang out. I lived and worked in the city and you lived and worked in the suburbs. And you went to bed early. I mean really early, on every night of the week. What’s up with that? Seriously, at nine o’clock one Tuesday night you shooed me off the phone because it was bed time. I was just sitting down to dinner. So I stopped calling so much. So did you. And that was okay. Until THEY came along and it was over.
Not that I was ever against children or having them. I always figured I’d have some kids of my own but I was sure not ready when I was twenty-five to be in charge of any living thing. If you don’t believe me, ask my cat from those years (which you can’t do because a) he’s dead, and b) he’d bite your face off because he was a little bastard). I mean, if there were ever groceries in my refrigerator, they were probably old. And there was that summer that every weekend I’d jump on my bike and go ride seventy miles each day. You couldn’t do that. You had kids.
And you couldn’t talk about anything but your kids. If we were talking about the Cubs, you’d talk about the pink Cubs onesie your wife’s aunt had bought for you daughter. If I talked about anything that was on TV past eight o’clock, you looked at me like I was on the moon. If I let you talk, I heard incessant stories about what Joey or Amber or Caitlyn, Or Kaitlin, or Catylyn had for dinner, or how much she weighed, or how many words she knew. In fact, you could talk about nothing but your children. Ever. And I listened, I just didn’t understand it. So we stopped talking. You had another kid. I had another drink.
Then a few years later I got married and my son was born. Two years later my daughter came along. My life changed, I stayed home more, went to bed earlier (not at nine o’clock much) and there was no sleeping in on weekends. Then, one day, it hit me. I was at work, talking to a single co-worker who was twenty four. And I was telling a story about my son’s preschool play, and how he likes to sing the words to Foo Fighters songs and this guy was giving me a blank stare, like I was from the moon. And it hit me.
I had become just like you, like anyone who has children. I was incapable of talking about anything but my children. And I understood why.
It’s not that I don’t have other interests, or like to read, or see movies or watch the Blackhawks anymore. But when you have children, especially young children, they ARE your entire life. You talk about them because that is all you do. Okay, some people still work but who wants to talk about work. So you talk about your kids, the things they do, how they used to say “Dummy,” every time they saw a picture of George Bush, or that their favorite show is Yo Gabba Gabba. In fact, that’s pretty much the only show you get to watch. And you go to Disney on Ice and read “Goodnight Moon” and “The Little Red Caboose,” which I can recite from memory. You’d love to talk about other things, but your children are you entire world. They are your everything. They absorb every minute of your life, some are wonderful, some are hard, some, especially anytime the get sick in the middle of the night and throw up all over and you are on the third load of laundry and its four am and there is not a clean sheet anywhere in the house, at five am your alarm is going to go off and you are going to have to figure out how to drag your ass through a ten hour work day then come home and do it all over again, are exhausting.
But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
So, I’m sorry, friends of mine who had children before I did. Thanks for inviting me to birthday parties, even though I snuck out as soon as I could since I was the only single person there. I still want to be friends, and now we can trade stories about our children.
What? Your first born is fifteen now? In high school? Learning how to drive. Wow that was fast. Mine are still newborns. No wait, almost five and almost three.
Where does the time go?
Thanks for reading.