There were high heels. There were pressed shirts. There were long lines. There were velvet curtains and mixologists. Candlelight and cocktails. Beautiful people everywhere.
Many of them, our friends. All of them unmarried. No kids.
Except for My Guy and me.
Friends we don’t see regularly gathered to celebrate a birthday. Weeks, sometimes months, would pass before we saw each other, so there was much to talk about. Conversations flowed freely.
That is, until they asked me what I was up to. And I didn’t quite know what to say. Or how. So I mostly fumbled because I didn’t realize I wasn’t quite ready with the answer either, as the decision was still new.
“Not much. Just hanging out at home with my baby and working on whatever freelance gig that comes my way.” Heads bobbed. This part they knew. This was my original plan - work from home; spend more time with the girls.
Then I found myself revealing the next part, words clumsily strung together like a school kid making excuses for forgotten homework: “I’m also looking forward to the summer when I have both girls home with me. I’m giving the stay-at-home-mom thing a try. You know, just to see…”
My voice trailed off into the awkward ether. The general response ranged from “Oh…” to “That’s nice.”
And we went no further beyond that.
I guess that’s definitely one way, if not the way, to stump a bunch of young, unmarried people with no kids.
It’s interesting. Now that I’m excited that I can finally do this – to stay at home with the kids – talking about it out loud made me feel like I shouldn’t be. Like, is that it, really? Like I gave the wrong answer.
After cupcakes, cocktails and conversations, we reluctantly left the group, the deafening sound of the babysitter clock tick-tocking in our ears. We went home to slumbering babies unaware of their parents quietly slipping into their respective rooms in the dark of night.
I removed the necklace I wore and placed it on Little Miss’ night stand as a surprise for her to wake up to the next morning. As a little something to let her know I was there. I also planted kisses and gathered sprawled limbs to tuck neatly back under the blanket.
As I wearily climbed upstairs to my own bedroom, where the snoring infant will be curled in the furthermost corner of her crib, my eyes took a quick scan of our place, to make sure doors were locked, windows closed, and cats where they belonged. But I also noticed other things.
There were garish plastic toys. There were shoes for tiny feet. There were empty sippy cups and scattered board books. Projects from preschool. A random crayon.
As tired as I was, I still managed a smile. The nagging doubt in my heart from the evening dissipated. Perhaps not fully, but enough. A realization sang me to sleep.
It wasn’t that I gave the wrong answer. I was just in the wrong crowd.
image: Radio Bar for Tenu by gwen