This happens to me all the time. You know why? ‘Cause Jesus? He’s FUNNY.
“I am telling you, La. You’d be an awesome mom.”
It is around this time that I realize that the best thing about dirty martinis is that if you hold it up to your eye and look at the person across from you, it makes their face wiggly and wavy, like the movie Fantasia.
And if you drink enough of them, your eyes will do it for you; you don’t even have to look through the liquor.
I am trying to accomplish the latter.
“Seriously, you are so good with Baby 1.” I look at Baby 1 sleeping in her stroller next to where we are having lunch. And it’s true. I am great with her. When she is sleeping.
“I don’t doubt that I could be a great mom. I just doubt that I want to. There is a significant difference between being afraid of motherhood and genuinely not being all that excited about it.”
“How is that possible?”
“You’re a woman!”
“All that means is when I don’t skip the placebo week of my birth control that I bleed once a month like the rest of you hoes. Doesn’t mean my uterus is aching with envy at the sight of your pot roast belly.”
Her hands, already parked on her protruding mid-section, as they have been all day, instinctually start to rub circles around her belly button.
“Really though, La. It is the most amazing thing.”
“I don’t doubt it. I just don’t care for it.”
“You will change your mind as you get older. I forget what a baby you are.” I give her The Rock eyebrow.
“Are you, like, trying to recruit me or something? Is this what the yoga moms do? Leave after mommy and me yoga and go forth and try to spread your doctrine? You are like a Jehovah’s Witness but instead of coming to my door, you trick me to coming to my favorite lunch spot to Scientology me into being a mom.”
We laugh at me, her laugh far too loud to not be overcompensating and mine much too hollow to be anything other than defensive. I don’t have the heart to tell her that ever since she waddled herself in here appearing to be what must be AT LEAST 11 months pregnant, pushing this far too expensive stroller with her previous excursion into failing Sex Ed strapped in tight, that all I have wanted to do is wheel her around in a stroller because her ankles must be SCREAMING.
But really, I want to ask her, what about Italy?
See, this friend used to have a thing for cooking. She was a sous-chef before she became a mommy. And she used to dream of going to Italy and studying real Italian cooking; traveling the entire country, spending a year in each major city, learning the small differences that would make her cooking authentic.
Now, the closest thing she gets to Italian cooking is probably spaghetti-o’s.
And maybe this IS what I fear about motherhood. Not necessarily the whole having the child part (though I must admit that the idea of carrying said child and giving birth to it gives me neither warm nor fuzzies). But rather the losing yourself that seems to go hand in hand with so many mothers I know. The putting aside of your own big dreams to potty train and relish first steps. Hell, even losing your name. It’s not bad enough you lost your last name when you got married, but now your first one is gone too because you are only referred to as “Mommy”?
Make no mistake, while I advocate wholeheartedly for the right of any woman to make motherhood look like whatever she wants, at what point do you get to still be a person outside of a mom? How do you reconcile the things you give up with the things that you gain?
And if you can’t answer those questions yet, should you REALLY become a mom just because you get older?
I not-so-craftily switch the subject to neutral territory; shoes.
Later, when the check comes, we are both unloading our ridiculously large bags (both Coach but one filled with bottled and diapers, the other with makeup and condoms), and I put down Travel + Leisure on the table as I dig for my wallet. She picks it up with a sigh.
“This is beautiful,” she says staring at the scenery on the front.
“Isn’t it? I picked it up because I thought it might give me some ideas of some out-of-the-way places to travel. Or info on Greece, which I am currently obsessed with.”
“It’s lovely there. Hubby and I went for our one year anniversary.”
“Oh, that’s right. I’d totally forgotten.”
“Yeah. We were supposed to go to Italy for our two year anniversary but-“ she gestures absent mindedly at the stroller. I barely know what to say.
“But you got something better, right?” She snaps right back into Stepford mommy role before I can blink.
“Of course I did,” she says with so much emphasis that I sit back in my chair. “I would never trade Baby 1 for a trip to Italy.”
“I know that. I wasn’t implying-“
“I know you weren’t. I was just being defensive. I’m sorry. That was just the ‘what ifs’ talking, I suppose.”
She looks away from me, past even the shrubbery she appears to be gazing in the direction in, maybe all the way to what could have been. And it strikes me that I wish that more women had these conversations, these honest, frank conversations, rather than the conversations they are supposed to have about all these things we are supposed to do.
“And who knows,” she says turning back to me, “maybe one day I will still get to Italy.” I put my hand on hers.
“Of course you will.”
We look at each other, mirrors of the same wry smiles, and we both really want to believe it.