4.23.2007

Instant Karma's Gonna Get Me

When Bee was about 5 months old, I met a woman in a local baby store. She was buying some items for pumping and storing breast milk for her son, who was about the same age as Bee. We were at the cash register at the same time, and she was asking the store clerk a bunch of questions. I chimed in with some nugget of wisdom about not reheating breast milk in the microwave, or about pumping first thing in the morning, or some such gem, and we went on our separate ways.

A few weeks later I saw her again, and though I wouldn’t have recognized her, she remembered me and we chatted for a minute. She asked for my number and email address, as she didn’t really know any moms in the (totally, completely, baby-filled) area, and would love a playdate. I said sure, and though she wasn’t really the kind of person I usually hang out with, went home and told Chris that I had just gotten picked up outside the health food store, but that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to actually go on a baby date with this woman. I figured I had nothing to worry about, since she would never call (read – I would never have called).

Of course, she called. I was surprised, but we made plans to meet at a local baby-friendly coffee shop, where we could have a java and the babies could sleep (my idea of a playdate with an infant).

Our get-together was surreal. There was absolutely no one in coffee shop that did not have boobs and a baby, but it was like this woman was visiting a different planet. She spoke so quietly I could barely hear her, almost wouldn’t leave her sleeping baby with me while she went to get a coffee (wouldn’t allow me to get one for her, either), and I had to give her a diaper to change her baby when he got wet, because she had only the cloth diaper he was wearing. We did cloth diapers too, but I always brought a few disposables when we went out. I made a joke about bringing a million useless things with, but forgetting the one thing you’ll actually need. But that wasn’t the case with my new friend – in 5 months, she had never been out of the house with her baby long enough to necessitate a diaper change. Wtf? Also, she excused herself twice to go breastfeed in the bathroom because she was so flustered trying to get her freakin ‘privacy bib’ on without anyone seeing flesh.

Now, I will always be supportive of a woman doing whatever she needs to do to facilitate breastfeeding. But seriously? We were in the most liberal part of town with no one present but moms whipping them out all over the place to feed their babes, myself included. Trust me, TRUST ME when I say that no one bats an eye when you do that where I live.

My date had not suffered ppd or any other post-birth trauma (these topics had come up). She was not a new resident to Canada or our neighbourhood, and was highly educated. I know; you are shaking your head at me and calling me a bitch. But I was being so nice and supportive that I almost gagged on it. I was trying to be a positive role model – look! Here’re my boobs! Look! I can drink a coffee while I hold my child! Look! A diaper!

I am an uninhibited person, to say the least, and I know that not everybody is. I just felt like, dude, do what you gotta do to take care of your child, but fuck worrying about what anybody else thinks. Life is too short, and too much fun to not be able to get out there with your baby. I really tried to make this woman feel comfortable, to make being a mom out of the house normal. But the bottom line is, this woman would have never been my friend in real life, and becoming a mom did not change me so entirely that I could now hang out with people who were so totally not my people. And I’m definitely not everybody’s people, so I was hoping that this woman was feeling the same way.

Nope. After our truncated date (her kid was crying so she had to go), she called me again, but this time to see if I would just come over to her place. No way, man. It was a beautiful, warm autumn day, and I said that I would do the park because I preferred to be outside. She didn’t want to go because she didn’t think her baby would sleep in the stroller, and she was worried about dogs. In five months, this woman had never strolled through the park with her child. I avoided her future calls, didn’t call her back and didn’t return her emails until finally her attempts petered out.

I was a new mom too, but I wasn’t being held hostage by my baby. I certainly didn’t want to be held hostage by another mom.

Now, this could have been a post discussing the alienation of motherhood, or self-esteem or community or any of those sensitive things. But I am not an entirely sensitive person. I am writing this post because, a year and a half later, I ran into her again. And she asked if I wanted to get together again.

I endured a pang of guilt for about 5 seconds, and then told her we were moving.

25 comments:

  1. I love it!

    I have learned to give myself permission to NOT be friends with people just because they live close by, our kids like each other, or they are willing and interested! It's hard enough to get out of the house with 2 kids in tow, it better be worth my while! Oh, and my fav line is to say "my kid has green boogers and a fever....again"...works everytime.

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  2. Instant karma might not get you, but you did run into her by chance 3 different times. You might really have to move now ;)

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  3. I would have done the same thing. Honestly.

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  4. I would have (and have) done the same. No bitch-callin' here because I know where you are coming from.

    I endured months of "dating" moms I wouldn't make friends with sans children. Why did I do it? I was lonely mostly, wanted to pick up tips (of things NOT to do with my child) and just have another adult to talk with.

    I met women who ignored their children, screamed at them when they chewed on toys or books (while teething), brought them out when sick and contagious and the worst: a quasi-Muchausen-by-proxy where she took her healthy child to the doctors week after week to feel important (or at least that's my bitchy take - the kid was fine).

    Just cos two women both have kids, it does not make a great foundation for friendship.

    Thanks for allowing me to rant! Ah good times remembering the weirdo's from B's first year of life.

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  5. It's funny but my husband seems to think all women can be friends. He often tells me, "Oh I saw this woman down the street she had a girl just like Samantha you should meet up with her and have coffee". Um no, not all women make friends like you do!!

    I would've done the same thing in your case!

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  6. Jeez, don't even get me started with weird breastfeeding ideas.

    Yes, it was quite the realization when I decided I didn't want to waste my time with people that irritate, and it didn't matter that they had a kid the same age as mine.

    I do feel a bit sorry for that woman though. One woman I've become friends with, I initially thought was absolutely not someone I'd like... but I do, and I have discovered that she has an asshole for a husband and some anxiety/guilt stuff going on...

    Only a bit though...

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  7. I would be speechless. The first day that we were at home, I took the Boy out in the stroller, eventhough it was the coldest January in a long time. I had to get out! I would go insane inside. I've also logged a lot of hours b-feeding at coffee shops (with and without other moms). If I was on that "date", I think my chin would drop and I'd lose the use of my voice.

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  8. Yikes! She seems to be a some what of a basketcase or inflicted with one too many hang ups.

    I'm surprised that I have way more in common with moms I've met through blogging than through my neighbourhood but I suppose that it's not so shocking. Could you imagine her blog? (Sorry - I can be beeyatch sometimes.)

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  9. What are you going to say if you run into her again? Oh...but maybe you ARE moving. sigh .anyway. she sounds incredibly anxious. And you were nice to her, but life is short man. life is short...

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  10. I totally understand. Just because you and another woman happen to have babies is not something that will make you instant friends.

    It's why in a neighborhood filled with kids, I don't hang out with any of the other moms. They seem nice enough to say hi to walking past, but any that I've spent any time with have never clicked with me. And that's OK.

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  11. I love it! Good for you for coming up with that story.

    Motherhood has made such a liar out of me too. I remember when I first came to realise that having children the same age did not make me like someone. I have no idea why this was surprising to me. I had stupidly expected to love all the moms in my groups.

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  12. Good for you. Life's too short, and sunny days and *good* friendship too precious to be squandered on the repressed.

    (Mean of me to say? Maybe. But I've been there.)

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  13. There aren't enought hours in the day to spend time with people you dont' clock with. In fact, I am a stage in my life where I don't apologize or justify anything I want or don't want to do. Fuck, I've kicked people out of my house, after I've invited them over, so that I can get into my jammies and snuggle my hubster.

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  14. It's strange how this one huge thing -- being a mother -- can join you to so many other women, yet we're still all so different, and just because we have something in common doesn't mean we'll necessarily get along.

    I was reticent to join a nearby mothers group in a neighboring town, because the people there tend to be conservative. It's been a pleasure to find out that I was wrong. But still, if they were hella conservative, I would have split.

    You can't make yourself want to hang out with someone who, quite frankly, freaks you out.

    (I tagged you for a meme, I hope you don't mind.)

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  15. Now try living in a small town. And that, dear kgirl, is why I discovered the internet.

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  16. Weird. Poor woman. Poor you!

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  17. damn. and what will you say the next time?

    oh wait, i know. start speaking in german. or feign a seizure?

    i loved how you wrote this post.

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  18. Too funny! You did the right thing.

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  19. Ahhh ... it's like you want to help her, but find her annoying at the same time!

    Why is it so much easier to meet nice people in the blogosphere?

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  20. That was an unbelievable tale. I'm still shaking my head.

    But where is this coffee shop / breast feeders paradise... I want to take the UrbanMummy there. Nothing like that in our neck of the woods. L)

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  21. Ha ha ha!! I love it - I love that you went so far to be so nice - and you always say you're a bitch!!

    I totally would have done the same thing - at least I would have tried! I'm a horrible liar!

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  22. I am cracking up over here!

    I'm with you. I just don't even have enough time for people I like, and certainly not for people I don't.

    I can't imagine how uptight and how lonely and how introverted that woman must be. I'll admit, I never managed to find other mothers while I was home, either, but I found some other friends in a local coffee shop and found plenty of other opportunities for either company or my own stuff to do - mostly going to the park!

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  23. That poor girl. Not that it was your responsibility to make her sane, but yikes, what her life must be like. A friend of mine was all happy when her baby was reliably on solid foods because (are you ready?) it meant that she could leave the house again, which she hadn't done for SIX MONTHS. The baby might have needed to breastfeed, you see. And I meanwhile have breastfed EVERYWHERE, including in church. Going to hell, that's me.

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  24. hillarious- I would have done the exact same thing.

    I've never felt really lonely since being a mother.
    In fact, I like when I get to just hang with my Lulu, just the two of us.
    But I can seriously only handle max one playdate per week.
    that's one of the great things about blogging, I get my mommy talk fix and don't have to deal with a bunch of women I would never hang out with if I didn't have a kid.

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  25. As someone who headed off to see my friends at playgroup with my toddler and a FOUR DAY OLD BABY, I so cannot relate to the woman you describe.

    You really might have to move if you can't 'break up' with her ...
    hee hee

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