A few weeks ago, just before Christmas, one of my best friends from college had a baby. I posted back in November about my trip downstate for her baby shower, and she ended up having her baby about 10 days early (much like I did!), coincidentally on the same day as my niece's birthday. It's her first baby, a boy, and I couldn't be happier for her.
For myself, though...I'm a bit sad. No, not because I want to have another baby. I think it's easy to get jealous of acquaintances and feel a little bummed when you see a pregnant woman you don't know, but when it comes to close friends and family? I think happiness is a far easier emotion to feel. Maybe if this goes on for many more months I'll feel differently, but when you truly care about people, I think you can't help but feel joy for them when they receive such a precious gift.
So why am I sad? Well, it's because we've grown apart. As I alluded to in my baby shower post, we had sort of fallen out of touch for a while. I can't blame it all on her, by any means, but I do think that in the nearly five years that have passed since our college trio last had a fun, non-event-based weekend together, I've been the one trying the hardest to get together again. Then again, I was the one who had a baby first, and the first year or so after Jacob was born was hard--I was nursing, I was tired, I was hesitant to leave him--so for a while there I wasn't trying that hard either. I'll admit that I was hurt when neither of my two best friends saw me pregnant, but I chalked it up to crazy schedules all around and tried not to let it bother me. And I think that's part of the reason I was so determined to make it down for the shower--I wanted to make the effort because I knew how crappy it was to not have my friends to share the experience with.
In the interim, I've certainly seen my college roommate more. A couple concerts, day trips and dinners here and there have solidified the fact that our friendship is still an important element of my existence. It weathers times of less communication relatively well. She's also been awesome with Jacob.
I know that my friend who just had the baby has a full plate. She has a demanding job and a full personal life. Since meeting her husband she got very involved in his (now their) church, and they're super-involved with the youth group there. Between that and family commitments, they had things going on nearly every weekend, so it was always tough to find one that worked--let alone one that worked with all three of our schedules. In addition, I suppose that Facebook makes it easier to not bother with a big email, since you know and share enough random details that it doesn't seem necessary. It was a gradual change that turned into total lack of communication, and by the time I went to her shower, it didn't exactly feel like I was seeing one of my best friends from college...it was more like hanging out with a good acquaintance. Catching up on three years of stuff was just...odd. It was fine but not nearly as comfortable as it was before. That alone was a bit of a bummer.
In the middle of everything, when I found out she was pregnant via a slightly premature Facebook post by her husband, he ended up de-friending me, and I had no idea why. I asked while I was there for the shower, and the reasoning had something to do with the fact that he posted that status before she was ready to tell people...even though I had already seen it and commented. The whole thing was just weird. Knowing, however, that he posts on Facebook far more than her, I told him that I was going to re-friend him, if only to keep up on baby stuff. Good thing I did, too, because pretty much the day I did it, he posted a picture of their new little boy about an hour after he was born. And he's posted pictures nearly every day since.
The pictures are super cute and I'm so happy for them. But I can't help but feel a little sad. I mean, up until a few years ago, or maybe even the last year, I imagined how great it would be when my friends and I were having kids. I pictured fun visits, holding newborn babies, and even our kids playing together someday when we got together for one event or another. Considering none of us live close I knew that it wouldn't be a frequent thing, but I still envisioned that we'd have plenty of opportunities to enjoy one anothers' brood over the years. I fully expected that I would know my best friends' children, and they would know mine. But so far, that isn't how things are shaping up. And every time I see that sweet little baby, there's a twinge of sadness knowing that I may never know him like that. The way things are going, it's pretty apparent that visits would be few and far between at best. And maybe that should be enough...but I can't help but wish for more.
There's a point in a waning friendship when you wonder if it's worth the work. You wonder if it's better to cut and run and move on, or push through the frustration and perceived rejection in hopes that things will improve down the road if circumstances change. While pretending everything's okay doesn't really appeal to me, neither does giving up on a friendship in which much has been invested. I guess for now I'll continue to enjoy the baby pictures and consider any sadness as further investment in a friendship worth saving. Love at your own risk...