Our trip back East for New Year's was, overall, quite good. We had good travel karma this time, even with my husband having to fly elsewhere on the way home, for work. The weather cooperated (we were lucky, we were right in between blizzards) and we even got a taste of some 50 degree weather while we were there!
On the other hand, though...there were still some minor hurdles.
We saw good friends and their family several times while we were home. I went to kindergarten with the wife, and have known her all of my life. She's the one I refer to as my "best friend from childhood". Anyway, they have three children, and she knows about my infertility. So she's one of...well, 3-4 people who actually know that we have tried, that having children would require more medical intervention than I am comfortable with, and that we are close to giving up.
She's also one of my more religious friends. Has been, for years. And, hm. I don't know how to say this, but she's also more evangelical than most. Maybe the word I am looking for is...she evangelizes? What I'm trying to get at is, she takes others' religious beliefs - and whether they align with hers - very seriously. And that has never sat well with me. I think belief is a very individual thing. Even when I was in my super-religious college days, I was never comfortable with the idea of pushing my beliefs on others. I'm even more uncomfortable with overt attempts at conversion. For example, my brother has a high school friend whose job it is to convert Sikhs in England to Christianity. I just...think that is wrong. That's my personal opinion - you, of course, are free to agree or disagree.
But I have wandered off track a bit. I guess that evangelizing piece really wanted to come out. :)
So, she's more religious than I am, especially now. And she still is concerned with others' beliefs. She also says things like "I'll pray for you", which she said when I talked about our struggles with infertility, and with stepping off the IUI/IVF train. As I've written before, I have pretty much lost my religion. I have deep-seated doubts about the existence of a higher Being, and whether that Being is, in fact, the God of my childhood beliefs. For someone who regularly prayed, went to Bible study, and tried to live "as a Christian", this is...a big change. I'm not entirely sure where I fall on the religiosity spectrum, but I'm pretty far away from "believer", and from "observant", and even from "religious". I'd say I'm verging on atheist / agnostic.
We have not exchanged major gifts for years, now. I will send her things when I see them, that make me think of her. Or, that we don't want / need - like the electric griddle I sent last year. It was perfect for their family of 5. We never used it. I plan on sending my unused flannel sheets to her just as soon as I can buy more packing tape. That kind of thing. But she called on New Year's Day and wanted to bring over a gift for me. The gift? A book:
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of SkepticismUm. Yeah. I wasn't even sure what to say. Well, duh, I said 'thank you', and I just wrote a nice thank you note for it. But...I'm not sure I will actually read the book. I'm not sure I am interested. And, it got me thinking about just how far apart we are in some ways, now that we are in our (sigh) mid-thirties. I don't think I will ever not be friends with this person, but I do not think that we are as close, or as similar, as we once were.
And that got me thinking about whether similarity is necessary for close friendship. I've never believed that it is, but I have watched my formerly close relationships drift since we decided not to actively pursue having kids. My relationship with this friend seems strong - we talk every couple of weeks on the phone - but...I'm not sure we are in the same place, viewing our futures in the same way.
The same goes for my other, other half - my college roommate. I haven't talked to her since before Thanksgiving. Where I once would talk to her at least once a day - this was pre-her-kids - now it is months. I told myself it was because she had two young children. Her son is 4 and her daughter is 1. But... Now I am not so sure. And I don't know what to do about it. I'm reluctant to bring it up - as in, 'I miss you' - because I don't want her response to be negative. I don't want to guilt someone into continuing a friendship with me, but... what if the basis for those friendships has shifted? What if we are no longer similar enough to be good friends?
And then what do I do? No kids. A rarity in this town, particularly among people our age, and in our neighborhood, and who we encounter at work. We are like an island of childlessness among these large, growing families.
I think it's actually more awkward because I am a pediatrics person by training. That's my clinical side. I actually know a fair amount about child development, and about kids, and about kids' medical problems. That's what I do, professionally. So to couple that with not having our own kids is...weird...for most people.
Saturday, I had the chance? option? invitation? to attend a "potty party" for a friend's almost-3-year-old. I bailed at the last minute. His little friend was coming over, and I realized I didn't want to be the token childless adult there, forced into awkward conversation with parents about the potty training habits of their children. She actually said, when inviting me, that she thought of me because "You get kids, you get the kid-thing" and I thought "Do I really?"
As usual, I'm not sure where this is going. Just that I am, again, having a hard time finding my way among friendships when kids are involved. Or not. As the case may be.
And, don't even get me STARTED about my husband's ex-wife. Who now has preemie twins. Via donor sperm insemination. Since her husband is OUR MOTHERS' AGE. Good grief. More for another time...