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.