Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Late for the Party

No one ever wants to be the first to arrive for a friend's party or social event. It's incredibly awkward. The hosts are still bustling about, putting the finishing touches on their appetizers and filling the ice bucket. The lady of the manor may still have her hair pinned up in rollers. They seem annoyed by your presence, as they mutter under their breath, "who shows up to a party on time?" You feel reluctant to start snacking on the nibbles, as it seems that the hosts want to keep it on display for the other guests who will be arriving.

The key is to arrive fashionably late, so that you can avoid being that person. A sound strategy is to coordinate your entrance with another guest. There's always strength in numbers. Of course, there is a danger of missing the window for being fashionably late and merely being late. Such as when you have another event scheduled on the same day, and are trying just to make an appearance. By the time you arrive, the food is picked over and the ice has melted. Some guests are getting ready to leave. The ones who are keeping the party going, are pretty buzzed, which really raises awareness of your soberness. Both you and the hosts are wondering why you bothered to show up at all.

I can't help to wonder if the first woman in her group of friends to have a baby feels like that initial party guest. It's awkward and isolating. She may feel as if she is on display. It's hard as no one else can relate to what she is going through, and she may at times feel a bit envious of her child free friends and their fun activities. She tries not to acknowledge that it hurts a bit when she is excluded, after all this was inevitable. She may start a new circle of friendship with other new mothers in the area, but mostly all she has to do is wait.

Wait a little while longer, until one of her original friends has a baby of her own. Then another one procreates. Pretty soon, the ratio of mothers to non-mothers has shifted and the breeders are rocking the party with their babies. The inaugural mother may even be pregnant with her second at this point in time. It's now the child free members who feel awkward and isolated. Pretending not to feel hurt when they are excluded from play dates and children centred activities, while they acknowledge that they really wouldn't want to join. After all, this was inevitable and it is a good time to reconnect with some other nulliparous friends. However, if the last woman within her circle of friends finally has a baby, is she viewed as the guest who shows up too late for the party?

As I hear the echoes of Husband's words 'we're falling behind' as our friends started procreating, it is now resonating that we've been left behind. The first ones to reproduce have a daughter who is turning seven. The youngest, Sam and Diane's third, will be two at the end of the year. Other than Penny, who expressed her volition for baby #3, and another close friend who is exploring options for fertility treatments, I don't think any other friends are planning on having any more kids. Even Myrtle seems committed to keeping little Myrtle as an only child (although that decision is driven by the fact that Mr Myrtle still doesn't have a full time job and they are living in a shoe boxed sized one bedroom condo). A few friends have even closed up the shop with a vasectomy or tubal ligation.

I fear that even if we do arrive with a baby of our own, we still won't be welcomed as members of their club. They will have moved passed the infant stage and will be in the phases of coaching soccer teams and building dinosaur dioramas. Their kids are interactive with independent personalities and are much more interesting than a three month old baby. No one wants to hear about your sleepless nights due to teething troubles. The terrible twos? Don't remind me! Those who do remember may only be too eager to share their acquired wisdom; after all they are experts. I don't mean to sound unappreciative of any advice, it's just that I'm accustom to being the knowledgeable one. It's going to be a different role for me. Furthermore, not that I ever really wanted to do play dates in the park, as that's not really my scene, I am concerned that my presence with a baby could be viewed as a burden. It's such a drag to go out with Jane and her kid...we have to fuck about with the car seat and the pram...find a quiet spot to feed and change her baby... I'm so glad my kids are ambulatory and potty trained... Once again, the awkwardness and isolation returns.

I used to joke that if we ever got around to having kids, our friends' kids could serve as baby sitters. Now, it seems that such a scenario may become a reality. Mostly, I fear that my bitter musings will transition into real life whining and crying from a frustrated child who can't engage in the same activities as the 'big kids', who have rejected him or her as playmate. Even at the earliest projection, there could be two and a half years between little Myrtle and my future daughter. "Little Myrtle is not going to want to play with her." I expressed recently. "Of course she will!" Myrtle knowingly replied, which I could only hear as I will make her play with your daughter to just to appease you... Sheesh. She will probably have to bribe her.

I know I will be very fortunate just to receive an invitation to the party, even if I end up arriving very late. Much of my tardiness is due to my own doing; I flittered about and took a long time getting ready. I lacked the foresight to anticipate the possible delays that would impede our entrance. Still, the opportunity to experience parenthood along side my close friends and to watch our children grow up together, is one more thing infertility is denying me.


  1. This post was inspired one entitled 'The Outsider" by Sarah J at When is it my turn?

  2. I'm usually that totally annoying person who's on time to the party. I just figure, if that's when you tell me to be there, that's when I'll be there! Obviously I completely missed the memo on pregnancy, though.

  3. My thought is that WHEN you do have a baby, you won't care in the least about being late to the party :). You will be SO happy for your little miracle that it won't matter!! That said- I totally know how you feel... And how these thoughts absolutely take over sometimes. XOXO

  4. As I read this, I kept shouting, "YES" to every point you make, like you were in my head writing out every thought and feeling I've had on this topic. (And writing it better than I could have/did, that's for sure). It is always reassuring to know I'm not the only one that feels this way...I often fear I'm being melodramatic or overreacting when it comes to all these emotions. At least I'm in good company.

    Feeling farther and farther behind? Check.
    Fearing unsolicited motherly wisdom from friends? Check.
    Sadness that I'm not experiencing parenthood with friends? Check.
    Looking for hope that at least one of my friends might still have another child that could be similar in age to mine? Check.
    Fearing isolation in a whole new way? Check.
    Pissed off at infertility for yet another reason? Check.

    The invitation IS the most important part, and will be a giant blessing, but yet we may not be able to avoid the sense that we are so late and have missed out on a whole lot. But as Aubrey says, hopefully being at the party will be so amazing that it won't matter if we arrive late. Better late than never (which has become my motto, because it seems I'm late to just about every milestone I strive for, even though I'm ridiculously prompt to every event/activity I do).

    We will get to this party, Jane.

  5. Oh yes, I could have written this post word-for-word. This is exactly how I feel about all my friends. And I hate, hate, HATE that I'm considering a legitimate reason to have a baby is because "everyone else is doing it!" I'm only 26, but in my world, almost all of my friends already have 2-3 kids and are closing up shop. If everyone we knew didn't have kids, I'm not sure Bobby and I would be in such a rush. And I hate myself for that. In real life, I'm amazing at finding that perfect "fashionably late" window. In baby world, I'm beginning to wonder if I should even show up. You're not alone, Jane!

  6. I'm already so far behind all of my friends at this point I just really don't care anymore! haha I just figure it is what it is. If I am able to finally have a baby I feel like I will be so in love with that baby that none of the other stuff will really matter. Could be wishful thinking on my part but o'well :)

  7. Last year, I saw a photo of my friends' children on the beach and I felt exactly what you described. An older woman tried to comfort me by saying that I will make new friends with the parents of my child's friends. It's just not the same. It's terribly depressing at times, especially with high school friends. My best friend's oldest child is 9 1/2 years old.

  8. I'm definitely the awkward one who shows up first to the party. When my friend's baby was baptized, I showed up BEFORE THE PARENTS!!

    When my friends started having babies, I used to joke that I'd "catch them on the next one" so we could have babies together. Now they are all done and I find myself making new friends with people having babies. I plan to join a Mom's group so I can make friends with people my age who have babies since none of my close friend's have babies on the horizon.

    And just remember that you will always have an online community of women who are in the same shoes as you. Having that has helped me so much I often wonder how women dealt with these heavy issues before the internet!

  9. Most of my college friends had their kids in their 20s so the oldest is already 13!!! Luckily we found a group of friends from law school that is just having kids now so we are in the same group.

    While it would have been ideal to have a baby at the same time as your friends, it simply didn't happen that way. But their kids will LOVE babies (most kids do), and even though they can't give you advice because they don't remember the newborn stage, you will find new friends with kids the same age. And then your old friends can just tell you what you have to look forward to in the coming years.

  10. What an apt analogy. Also, I can very much relate to "usually being the knowledgeable one" ;)
    I hope, as others have experienced, that you will find a new circle of friends with baby. It won't be the same, but I hope it'll be good.

  11. Man, what a great analogy, and I couldn't agree more and feel the same way about the whole "your kids can babysit my kids" thing. At this point, my best friend just had her second grandkid, and they will even be older than own kids! But you know what's great about this life? If not arriving to the party at the picture perfect, right in the middle time, isn't going to interest those friends you already have and space continues to grow.....well then, there's a whole world of wonderful new people out there that would just love to call you their friend. That I can pretty much guarantee!

  12. What a great post. The feeling of being left behind is an absolute perfect analogy. I hope your baby is just around the corner and people are coming in droves to be a part of your world.

  13. Infertility is about so much more than the physical difficulty of having a baby, isn't it? On the other hand I want to be reassuring and say that when you have your child, you'll find an accepting social group - there are people out there who want to have you and your children in their lives. If I manage to get past the stage of terrified apparently-pregnant IFfer living from day to day, I will have to address the same question you address here- though for the opposite reason. I am in the apparently unusual situation of having no close friends or family with children at all. There are a few "potentials" for having kids, but only one is close in the geographical sense. So I am 34 with no interaction with young
    families whatsoever. Pretty lucky for an IFfer, but what might life on the other side look like? I'll be trying to figure it out same as you...

  14. Several people have already said this, but I will reiterate what a fantastic analogy this is. I've been following you for some time now and thought I should come out of the shadows for once. I always look forward to your posts, your writing is always so poignant!

  15. Showing up late is still better than not showing up at all.

  16. I hope this isn't hurtful to post, but this resonated with me in so many ways. Despite IF, we were still the "first to the party" and were dropped by all of our friends. We were the first to get married by quite a bit, and had many younger friends. Many of our initial friends group still doesn't have kids by choice. But my new mommy friends? Our #2 was stillborn and we are starting treatments for number #3 while they talk about how #1 is transitioning and what a great big sibling they are. We lost one friends group to being too early, and now we are feeling late. We can't win.

  17. I like this metaphor. While most of my closest friends are a child or two ahead of me, they're not too far because most still haven't started on their second. But what I'm most worried about is how much older I'll be than all the other mothers of my future child's peers. I'll be showing up to Kindergarten open houses feeling more like a grandma and less like a mom.

  18. We are mos definitely late to the party, but I can say without a doubt that everyone has been absolutely in love with our babies. Those kids that are a little older? Of course they will want to play with your kids! All the 4-8 year olds tha I know are so excited to "play" with the babies. They talk about how they can't wait until the babies are older and they can do xy and a together. It is really cute. You might be late to the party, but everyone will be so excited for your little one. And those tha aren't, you won't care because you are going to be so over the moon it won't matter. I'm 39 and Hubby is 41, so we definitely know what it is like to have our kids later than most everyone else.