Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bye bye baby

I was thrilled to discover today that J, one of my friends from university, is pregnant with her second child. For the time being, I'm all about the vicarious baby experience: infants are cute, & I'm always happy to welcome my friends' offspring into the world and coo over them.

However, other people's babies, however close my relationship with the parents, remain adorable & interesting for about twenty minutes, tops.

I'm not a baby hater & I'm not jealous. It's just that I'm not particularly maternal & I don't have a ticking clock: for me (& my sister) children would have to be the product of a relationship, and neither of us have met a man yet with whom we would like to have babies.

I was horrified - and faintly amused - to be asked by one of my oldest friends on my last trip to London if I had researched sperm banks. I was able to answer truthfully that the idea had never occurred to me.

But her question did illustrate the yawning gulf between the child bearers and the child free. The (usually first time) child bearers seem so often unable to grasp that life could be complete without infants. So lost in the grip of the most enduring and obsessive love affair of their lives, they lose all perspective, unable to grasp that a child free life could be an active choice & that conversation can exist without discussing little Johnnie's bowel movements.

I know it works both ways: I'm sure that discussing my latest deadbeat boyfriend can be dull as f&&K, but I swear that the baby talk is even more catatonia inducing, probably because whilst we can all relate to crap boyfriends, the child free have no experience or interest in the minutiae of child-rearing beyond the basics.

Even those girlfriends who, having endured years of baby gibber from friends-turned-mothers, promised never to do the same, turn into baby gibberers the moment their first-born arrived. It's relentless for the child-free. And brain numbing. It's the equivalent of the party bore or the avid stamp collector cornering you.

Of course I am there for the baby mothers if they are depressed, lonely or in need of a shoulder or a babysitter, but being there as an empty vessel onto which they spout endless baby gibber is quite another.

Conversations which are continually broken off because baby Johnnie is decimating a daisy or toddling into a puddle are best left to husbands and other mothers. I quite understand that Mummy would rather stick pins in her eyes than be parted from the infant prodigy, so I am very happy to leave them together to enjoy their mutual adoration society.

It is wonderful that they are so blissfully ensconced with each other, and I really wouldn't want it to be any other way. I just don't need to be observing it for the time being. I'd rather read a good book. And wait for them to have a baby free slot in which to talk. Which could be tomorrow, or next year, depending on the person.

Which leads me to the delightful weekend I've just spent with C. We've been best friends since we were sixteen. That's a lot of water under the bridge and our friendship, as often the best ones do, has waxed & waned through the years.

When my godson O was tiny, C & I saw each other a few times a year, even tho I was in London then - she was involved in baby stuff, I was probably two thirds of the way down a vodka tonic in Soho House.

Now that her infants are three and four I see her every time I return to London, often staying over. The children are charming, rewarding and huge fun to be around. I give O his breakfast when I stay over, we have conversations about randomness together, play on the Wii Fit, and generally all hang out as an extended family. It's enormous fun.

But I also get alone time with C. Her husband loans me her for a morning or the odd evening so we can catch up properly: we discuss our lives equally, our problems, joys, worries all get dissected and discussed. We make time for each other. We do not discuss her offspring's bowel movements.

ps I rather love this entry by West End Mum, who is always funny about the life of a new mother. She refers to the baby bores half way down