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As the only childfree woman among us girlfriends, I couldn’t connect with their talk of diapers, feeding times, school admissions… Would I lose them?
Hey girl, I am expecting!!”
That’s how this whole new phase in our friendship unraveled. I don’t think I realized the intensity of this till it happened.
We had been close friends for over a decade now. We had been through the roller coaster ride during post-graduation separation. Back then, I had my doubts that our girl bond will make it through. But to my surprise, we just didn’t make it through; instead, our friendship found a deeper meaning. Since then, my belief in our friendship was renewed to a new definition – nothing could ever break us apart.
But the second strike came when my friends started dating, and one of them even got married. It just meant that we would have less time for each other but as time went by the initial hitch was soon forgotten. Instead, we became a larger group as all our better halves joined the gang. So the brunt of the second wave was hardly felt.
Perhaps I was expecting something similar to happen when my buddy girl was expecting her first child – we would still find time for each other and hang out like old times.
What could change with one more addition in our ever-growing family of friends?
My thoughts, in all honesty, were pretty naive. In my defense, I fall under a good percentage of women these days – women in their early thirties, settled with a husband but no plans of having a baby.
So, my idea of a baby in the current group was just another number, but for my friend, her kid was her world! I saw my friend transform entirely in the next few months. Not just physically but emotionally and spiritually too. It was like watching someone holding a piece of their heart outside their body. That’s when I started to wrap my head around the fact of how this time, it may be a lot different than the other two times. I shuddered slightly at the thought of the baby being the end of our close-knit group.
I still had one more childless friend in the group, and we decided to brave this phase together. I felt comfort in knowing that I had company. But a few months later, she shocked me with her pregnancy news. Of course! I was thrilled, but this only meant that I was going to be all alone now.
Suddenly I started to feel like a piece of excess baggage. One after the other, the babies kept coming and what was once a glorious gang soon became a figment of memory.
Most meet up plans got canceled due to the unavailability of a nanny or some excuse around the kids. Sometimes I didn’t meet them for an extended period. Meeting them both together was a rare sight too. When I braved visiting them, the whole hangout would end up becoming a series of chores related to their kids, and we would get hardly any time to talk about ourselves. I was used to now hearing long, never-ending discussions about their baby’s tidbits, including their diaper habits to teething problems. Most of my texts would get answered hours later, which soon became the new normal.
Very soon, I started to miss what was the very essence of our friendship – us! Out of nowhere, it started to feel like I was a stranger. The change paradoxically became the ongoing routine.
Not having any other place to hide, I started to delve deeper into a box load of work and other childless activities that couples usually do – travel, hike, and chill with my husband. But in the back of my head, I missed my girls and the large friends’ group terribly. It was difficult to swallow the brief pangs of exciting news that I was used to sharing with them earlier, but now I had to keep that aside, given their current predicament.
“I put a male chauvinist colleague right at his place today! He will never dare to look down on women co-workers” kind of talks appeared non-consequential compared to “My baby took her first steps!” Somedays, I started to feel like I was leading a selfish lifestyle as everything in my life was just about me.
I started to introspect deep within and find something that I could tether to from outside instead of being a baby about all this. I needed to grow emotionally, too, just like my friends were doing with their kids.
Soon our lives changed courses and ramped up for the better. I started to focus my unhindered energy on philanthropy and writing a book while my friends got busy building a future for that tiny human. We took our significant steps towards the ever-maturing version of ourselves. I found some new childless friends to share my petty matters with, and my old friends found new playgroup dates to manage their kids. But we still try to catch up when the time is right. After all, what I share with them can never be replaced with new kinships. Our friendship and our undying love for each other binds us together for life.
Funnily, this realization came to me during the unexpected global pandemic. Out of the blue, we got talking about COVID-19, and for the last few months, just like before, nothing else seemed to matter. The global pandemic made us come closer again because, in the end, the bond that we had built together can never be broken. We also found ourselves back in our comfort shell. They still talk about their kids sometimes, but we make sure we talk about us too!
First published here.
Image source: Simon Maage on unsplash
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Suduhita is a connoisseur of tales, always on the lookout to capture stories from the
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