Some of our very good friends have a 20-month-old boy who is maybe the cutest kid ever. Her pregnancy was not the thing that kicked off the whole “let’s have a baby” idea for us, but it certainly kicked us (and especially Ms. Swimmin) into overdrive. He’s our wedding baby – he was conceived the same week that his Dad served as a groomsman in our wedding. If we’d conceived a child immediately after our wedding – like Ms. Swimmin’s parents did – that kid would be the same age as our friends’ kid.
Yesterday, the kid’s Mom posted a video of Kid and Dad reading a book together. Pretty cute stuff. And, unexpectedly, watching it left me a bawling, sobbing mess. Recognizing that whether I would ever get to have a simple moment like that of my own remains a very open question just wiped me out.
Not the fault of Mom, Dad or Kid, of course. And in the end, I was delighted to see the video, because the three of them are some of my very favorite people and it was great to be able to peek in on such a nice moment.
It’s kind of the flip side of what I wrote about in my last post. I don’t want the people who know about the difficulties we’re having to be callous and insensitive to how tough it is, of course. But on the other hand, I don’t want our friends and/or family members who do have kids to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around us. I want our friends to be proud of their kids, talk about their kids, show us their photos and videos and tell us their funny stories and everything else. How I feel about it is my own row to hoe, ultimately.
I guess I just don’t want my desire for some level of sympathy to come off as self-centered. When Mother-in-Law asks “Will you be upset if one of your sisters gets pregnant before you?”, the answer isn’t nearly so simple as maybe she thinks it is. Say one of Ms. Swimmin’s sisters gets pregnant while we’re still figuring things out, still waiting, still hoping. I’m going to be happy for them, because I absolutely want them to have that experience if they want it. I’m going to be excited for them and maybe start brushing up on my sleight-of-hand so I can be the cool uncle who does magic tricks.
But, hey, guess what, Mom? I also reserve the right to be upset about it, and there’s not a goddamn thing in the world you can do about. I wouldn’t dream of saying anything about it, of telling pregnant Sister-in-Law that I’m insanely jealous or kind of sad, because none of that really has anything to do with her, ultimately. But nobody’s desire for family harmony or hope to avoid conflict and discord trumps my right to feel the way I honestly feel about things. If confronted with such an immediate and stark reminder of the things I can’t have, I get to be sad about the things I can’t have. And I get to be a little jealous.
This is all hypothetical, of course. Sisters-in-law aren’t pregnant or planning on being pregnant anytime soon. But we do have a kid who’s something of a nephew…and it’s a tightrope walk. It’s a balancing act of being proud of the Kid and happy for his parents and enjoying vicariously the joy he brings to their lives, and allowing myself the luxury of being kind of sad about it, too.
And the worst part is that whether I like it or not, it’s a tightrope walk I have to perform without a net.