Barney Stinson, the loveable, and utterly slutty, bachelor of How I Met Your Mother has this quote,
I have been on the verge of posting that meme to my facebook header WEEKLY for the past 18 months. Another friend of mine is pregnant, and while I am happy for her, I am caught in this very strange tension of being so grateful I don’t have a child on the horizon.
In my teens, I would look at new mothers and sniffle with joy and hope of having my own one day. Now I look at new mothers, and half-giggle. Because I get 6 hours of solid sleep a night. Every night. Sometimes 10, if I want.
As open as my own parents were to the reality that we each follow our own paths in life, that no one has to be exactly like someone else, and being okay with your own life is actually quite important, the environs of my childhood did not reinforce that concept. Happily homeschooled or not, I unwittingly picked up that the appropriate path for myself would include a college degree, a happy marriage, children, stable home.
These days, I do not fight envy when I see my pregnant or tired friends, I fight my past haunting me and questioning my decisions. I am not discontent with the reality of my current freedom. I am discontent with my own surprise at this peace.
The strange conundrum mixed in with that odd confusion, is that once I return to a place of relief and enjoyment, I look around and spot the pitying eyes of a young or expectant parent. The words taunting my tranquil moment, “We must find you a man, so we can raise our children together!” As if the impending child will then destroy years of friendship, undo the foundation of trust and interest in each other’s well-being.
Parenthood does not have to eradicate friendship, or render me useless. If you go for walks with your child, I will walk with you. If you cook late at night, I will cook with you. If you need someone to clean up your home when you’re both too ill to stand, I will come for that. I will not come with the understanding that my life is worthless, useless or rendered colorless since I am “Alone and lonely”. I will not come and feel guilty while you envy my freedom. Few of you are pregnant “by accident” and certainly not without a knowledge of the potential ramifications of…well, you know what!
To envy and whine of my freedom, is the same as me, with my 8-5 workday, earned through 5 years of studying, complaining that the waitress gets to sleep in. I earned my morning workschedule, you earned your sleepless nights. I also earned my full nights of sleep by….well, NOT doing you know what! Another full night’s sleep, shall we say?
There is no comparison of our lives, but I’m happy to be a part of yours if you will remember mine continues even after your child arrives. And, it’s pretty awesome.