Something I have noticed recently is the alarming amount of life altering announcements that I seem to be receiving from friends and colleagues in my age group. These would include engagement announcements, wedding invitations, baby showers, and divorces (a Mormon friend who got married in high school so she could have sex on prom night). As the rest of my peer group seem to be moving swiftly in to adulthood, I can’t help but feel a bit behind. I am apparently suck in limbo.
Whether limbo is an immediate distraction right out of college, the grey matter that exists as we tumble through our mid-to-late twenties, the catholic equivalent to hell, or the drunken ice/back-breaker at parties, it is quite an uncomfortable position to be in. Especially when it is brought to your attention that the gap is ever widening. I had been doing my best to ignore that little voice inside telling me to pick a future, find a mate, blah blah blah. However what was once a nagging inclination, is now becoming a screaming modulation alerting me to the breadth of the situation (and that was just my mother).
The trigger I believe came when I opened my mail to discover that my dorm-neighbor in college was “with child” and due in June. It didn’t surprise me that Josie was pregnant (I don’t think anyone within three doors of her room was shocked), what blew our minds was that she not only knew who the father was, she married him. Never one to turn down a name brand item, Josie had undoubtedly registered her bundle of joy at all the finest baby boutiques in Seattle. I barely had enough for the month’s rent and food let alone a Diaper Jeanie from Bed Bath and Beyond.
I chose to ignore that I had not been invited to their nuptials or to the reception after, and instead focus on the fact that I now had to hunt down a gift. Entering into stores which cater to those who are making life-altering changes is always something I have to prepare myself for. It’s bad enough that I have to consider shopping at a facility with a name like “Bridal Barn” or “Baby Barn” or “Discount Divorce Hut” (pay for two and the third is free), but to walk freely among those who assume that I am there for the same reason they are is grim. As I pass the numbers of squealing brides and mommies-to-be I am ever aware that I have no business being in these places.
This morning I drug myself to “Babies R Us” after my full work dayto spend my hard earned single salary on something Josie’s kid couldn’t choke on. I really wasn’t prepared for was the frightening scene unfolding in the parking lot. I was faced with an endless sea of SUVs and Mini Vans all vying for the last available parking spot, and these women were out for blood. After about 3 lengthy laps around the lot, the parking gods took pity on me and blessed me with spot about 3 miles from the store. The only catch was that I had to wait for the woman to unload her cart, strap in her kids, load up her crap, move her cart, distribute various juices and snacks to her obviously starving children, and back out. I of course followed parking lot protocol and stopped my car with enough room for her to get out and proceeded to turn on my blinker, indicating that this was indeed my parking spot. As I waited I became aware that a rather large SUV was encroaching on my cars rear end. I hoped that “Objects in Mirror are Closer then they Appear” was merely a decorative statement. After trying to mount my car, the woman driving decided that it was not obvious that I should’nt be in her way. She began honking her horn for 20 second intervals and yelling from inside her car. My first intonation was to get the fuck out of there, but then I realized that this is a public parking facility and I therefore was doing no wrong in waiting for this spot. This of course did not sit well the SUV woman, and she decided to open her car door to better alert me to her anger and colorful vocabulary. While shouting obscenities and honking her horn we had drawn ourselves a little crowd, all wondering if I would stand my ground, or if the scary eyed SUV-Bitch would drive me away.
In the end the woman giving up her much coveted spot shot me a look of utter horror and pity, while speeding up her departure. I of course took the spot, and the ungraciously defeated SUV honked her horn for a good 30 seconds before proceeding on her way. These were mommies?
I hiked to the entrance of the store after shelling out a couple of dollars worth of loose change to various beggars (probably fathers who had been separated from their herd and were now forced to wander the parking lot for life), and found myself in another world. Some kind of strange music played which seemed to be an odd hybrid of elevator music and whale songs, and everywhere I looked there were people expecting children, dragging children, holding children, or fussing over children. I was all alone in a sea of bodies. I fought my way to the customer service desk and obtained a copy of Josie’s lengthy registry, and began my journey into the unknown.
While looking for a clip on accessory for the “Jolly Roller Stroller” a woman’s voice volunteered,
“Those are really helpful for entertaining, but they aren’t machine washable, so beware.” I turned around to find a smiling woman about my age with a child strapped to her belly in what looked like a primitive version of a Lycra torture device. “I almost went nuts trying to entertain little Tailor, until we found the baby Sling-o-Rama” She then rested her hand on the torture device for emphasis “Now, he mostly sleeps and gurgles, it’s wonderful being a Marsupial Mom. Well good luck to you!” She then waved and departed as quickly as she’d shown up leaving me to contemplate Marsupial Motherhood there in the stroller isle.
Women form all angles were smiling at me, offering me advice and showing me how things worked. They were more then willing to follow me around and make sure that I found the best of the best as far as baby accessories went. Then it dawned on me, they weren’t helping me out of the kindness of their hearts, they were assuming that I was one of them! I began to feel ashamed that it wasn’t “baby weight” I was carrying around, it was my very own “baby fat”. All I wanted was a colorful unisex semi-engaging novelty which could pass as a decent gift, and now I was one of them. At first I played along, cooing at all the fun toys, faking rapture at the delicate baby books, and virtually salivating over the astounding advancements in breast pump technology. Then some woman named Gale began to regale about the joys of her first birth. The endless contractions, her water breaking all over the car seat, the drugs needed to keep her from gnawing her husbands hand off, the ripping of her genitals, the stitches needed, the right kind of stretch mark cream, etc. I found myself tightening the imaginary noose around my neck in anticipation of this day. Then everyone chimed in with stories of how much weight they gained, what foods they craved, how submissive their husbands were, the bloating, the gas, the hormone surges, the mood swings...and I had to get out. Motherhood was a club that I was not only unprepared for, I wanted no part of it whatsoever. Just as I felt the floor begin to spin underneath me, one of the mommies turned to me and asked,
“When are you due?” Suddenly all eyes were on me, expecting me to gush with rapt enthusiasm over the next nine months of imminent torture. I had two choices, to lie and sign myself up for jamboree classes starting in 3 to 6 months, or I could simply say,“Oh, I’m not pregnant…” The mommies began to step away slowly all looking at me with measured anger. So I did what any other human would have done in a situation where I was obviously outnumbered by other Marsupials “yet, but we’re hoping soon!” The crowd breathed a sigh of relief and gave me numbers to their doctors so I could consider envitro 'should it come to that'.