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.