Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ode to the Girls' Weekend

Having just returned, exhausted and aching, from a girl's weekend on the east coast, I feel I must take a moment to consider the female friendship. Not just as it applies to my life, but in general.

You see, I have never really been one of those people who had a large circle of friends. Up until recently, I couldn't have even come up with enough female friends, least of all who all know each other, to make a girl's weekend even happen. I don't know why that is. A little shyness and low self-esteem, maybe, or perhaps there just aren't that many women out there who can be my friend. It takes a special understanding of my dry, sarcastic and generally cynical outlook on life, and most women aren't like that. At least, I never thought so. Or maybe it's just that I didn't try hard enough. I don't know. Everyone talks about how hard it is to make friends now that we are older; I have always felt that way. Making friends was never easy for me. Not in childhood, not in high school, not ever.

So having a group of women who evolved over time from people I simply had one thing in common with, to a close-knit group of friends I can fly across the country to spend a weekend with in close quarters is kind of a minor miracle in my life. I could say that I needed that weekend away as a break from my kids, and that would most definitely be true; but far more than that, I needed it to be a part of something like that. We all have a need to belong, but I always shoved aside the feelings of needing to belong to some sort of female group, thinking it didn't matter. But I have come to see that it really does matter.

It's more than sharing makeup and group pedicures, shopping for shoes and sipping wine. It's a connection with people who share the fundamental experience of what it is to be a woman. Although we are all very different, we are all in some ways very much the same. And not just because we are all mothers. I like to think that had we found something else to bring us together, we might have connected just as well, but who can say?

I do have female friends, who are and have been vastly important to me. But I have never been a part of something quite so magical and different before as a large group of women who can laugh together, share our secrets, and accept each other so openly for all of our differences and flaws. The more I think about it, the more I think it's not just a miracle in my life, but a miracle in general.

So, much love to my girls; I can't wait to see you again. Thanks for everything.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Life without kids?

I always wonder about people who say they don't want kids. Not that I can't figure out why they might feel that way; frankly, I totally get it. Let's face it, most of what you hear out of parents is not precisely encouraging. The lack of sleep, the crying, the diapers, the food fights, the teething, the tantrums. And that's just the first few years. No, I get why it might not be entirely appealing to those who haven't lived it.

The thing is, I wanted kids badly. Really badly. And wanted them even more when they were denied me by infertility. I wanted kids in a naive fashion, because I had no idea what it meant. But I think that the people who don't want kids are just as naive in their own way. Perhaps they are being realistic about the hard parts of parenting, things I underestimated and was in no way ready to handle. But the thing is, there is another side that you can't ever understand until you are there.

I have often said that you don't know what love is until you have kids. And I stand by that statement. There is no one, nothing on earth that you can ever even begin to love the way you love your kids. And I wonder how anyone can be so sure that they don't ever want to know how that feels. The thing is, you can't know. Just as you can't know what the word tired really means.

I realize that it's hard to miss an experience you don't know anything about. Having kids is one of those things you can't explain, nobody can tell you what it's really like; you have to live it to get it. Still, I wonder how you can choose not to have such a huge, monumental, and really very basic life experience. Maybe it's because there was a time when I didn't have the choice. Infertility made me look at becoming a parent in a whole new light. It's amazing how much more you can want something when you are being told you can't have it. And hard to understand why someone would just shrug off that thing you want with all your heart and soul.

No, I get why having kids might not seem like something you'd want to do. I still have days when I think maybe another dog would have been the better plan. But my boys - those two little parts of me running around turning my life into chaos at every chance - my boys are an experience I wouldn't give up for the world. It's a rough rollercoaster ride, but I am raising my hands in the air and screaming for all I'm worth. It's a scary ride to get on, but when you step off it with shaking legs, out of breath and unsure what just happened to you, I would guess it's impossible to regret it. On the other hand, you might just regret it if you don't get on at all.