Yesterday afternoon we were supposed to host a bbq with our downstairs neighbor. We didn’t really take much initiative in inviting people though, so in the end we’d only remembered to invite 6 or 7 people, half of whom we knew were most likely not coming. Half an hour before it was to begin, 2 of the remaining 4 possible guests called to say that because the buses weren’t running they had no way to get to our place. One of those 2 was the guest we most wanted to see, because she’s living in London right now and is leaving this morning. So we called up the remaining two possibles and decided to move the event. Kinda weird to do to our neighbor, I know, but for some reason I wasn’t in the mood to care. She was going to host it anyway and many of her guests had already shown up, and we were only providing our vegetarian fare so all would be fine without us.
Josh went down to explain the change of plans, and came back up looking flushed and overwhelmed. There were 6 couples at the event by then, 5 of them with babies under a year old and some with more than one kid. More shortly showed up. How on earth can it be that our single neighbor has so many friends with babies under a year old? And the babies weren’t just guests, it was like a baby extravaganza down there, a suburban playgroup – blankets, strollers, bouncy seats, everywhere. And from my bedroom window I could hear that the talk was also all baby.
Now you have to understand that as a graduate student, as an academic really, I have *never* *ever,* even before losing Natan, walked into an event like that. Certainly, having two nieces and a nephew, I’ve been to children’s parties but this was different. Parties organized by adults just don’t have more children than adults. I was suddenly very glad we’d backed out, especially because I’m showing now and I was not prepared for an extensive discussion of pregnancy and birth. But I thought I ought to be polite and go down and introduce myself.
But then I tried to walk down the fire escape stairwell. Two women with infants not more than 3 months old were standing on the porch proudly complaining about having to interrupt the adult conversations they so rarely get to have to go change diapers. I absolutely froze. I couldn’t even will myself to keep walking down the stairs. I went back up and sat in our living room waiting for Josh so we could leave. They are completely entitled to their overwhelmed new mom feelings and their labor stories but I just couldn’t do it.