I have the unique fortune of having a great friend who shares my love of nerdy movies, bad second-tier reality television and baking. I was even more fortunate when she went and got married to a guy who shared my love of soccer, sneakers and cologne. For years now, we've been a motley trio, but that's about to change, because we're having a baby.
No, we're not in a love triad worthy of a TLC special; we're just super-best friends. I'm 34, but none of my other friends have had babies yet, so this is new territory for everyone involved. And to add shock to the awe, my very closest friends are the ones who are expecting that very first baby.
I'm not tagging along to my bestie's prenatal yoga sessions and birthing classes or anything, but constantly hearing about ultrasounds, comparing the baby to different sizes of produce and stopping by Baby Gap on our regular shopping trips does have me considering my place as soon as the baby arrives. Where does the best friend fit into the equation when there's a best baby all of a sudden?
Late-night ghost hunts are probably out of the question. That trip to Bigfoot country will probably have to be postponed for a few years. (Yes, these are things we've actually discussed. What?) What we haven't actually talked about is what exactly will happen to our trio when the baby gets here. Will we still head to soccer games on Saturday nights? What'll happen when we all go to Disneyland? Will those Great British Baking Show binges be accompanied by crying and breastfeeding?
When I ask actual current parents, I tend to get too much advice. Some say they became shut-ins after the birth of their kids; they didn't want to be apart from their babies for even a minute. They barely made it to the supermarket, much less the black mailbox out by Area 51. Other parents, however, say kids didn't change things at all for them; they simply strapped their babies to their bodies and went about their lives. These parents' post-baby schedules remained mostly unchanged minus the new accessory.
Seeing my best friends take a huge step into adulthood also gives me the always-pleasant experience of examining where I am in comparison. For one thing, I'm not having a baby. It was the same feeling when my friends got married; I was reminded I wasn't. And now, as then, it can feel like I'm not reaching the same milestones everyone around me is — getting left behind while everyone else is checking things off of their life to-do lists. Marriage: check. Kids: check-to-be. My own list lacks these checkmarks. But at least I have a 401(k).
Of course, the best advice on this subject ended up coming from my own mom. I should have expected as much; she's known my best buds for just about as long as I have, so her sage advice wasn't completely without context.
"Wait," she said, warning me against my own impending freak-out. "Babies change everything, but they don't change everything all at once."
If there's a mom-wisdom class somewhere in my friend's schedule, I need to be her plus-one, that's for sure. It seems like mom wisdom is something we all need in these trying times. (Thanks, Mom.)
Honestly, I've never seen myself having kids of my own... ever. My parents think being exposed to the experience of baby-raising — albeit separated by one degree — as I watch my friends' kids grow will change that mentality. But I'm not so sure. So, we'll wait and see.
Dad- hood aside, even my potential position as fun uncle is still up in the air since I don't know how fun I'll actually be just yet. What I do know is that my besties and I have put our soccer season tickets on hold for now — although we planned to go to at least one game this year. As for Disneyland, strollers are pretty great for holding jackets and snacks, I hear. And about the potential of crying interrupting hours-long FIFA sessions — I think I can handle it.
If my mom is right — and she's always right — the gradual changes will give me plenty of time to figure out where I fit in the complex equation of friends plus babies plus me. I'm not saying you'll find me with a baby (my own or otherwise) strapped to me anytime soon, but if my friends want to take their kiddo along to soccer games, that means the home team will have one more voice in the crowd. And I won't argue with that.
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