Tuesday, June 12, 2012

how not being preggers makes you invisible

Ever feel like you don't fit in?

A few years ago, I worked full time as a nanny to an adorable little guy named Jack.  Jack was four months old when I first started working for his family and we went everywhere together; reading time at the library, Kindermusik, Little Gym.  Sometimes his mom or dad (or both) took him, sometimes I did, depending on their work schedule.  I remember several times when I would be chatting with another mom and somehow in the conversation it would come out that I was Jack's nanny, and not his mom.  I kid you not, there were more than a couple of distinct occasions where as soon as I was discovered not to be his flesh and blood mom, the lady or ladies I was speaking to would turn away from me and act as though I didn't exist.  Evidently to them being a nanny was tantamount to being a leper or a convicted felon. 

Mommy status is very highly coveted and cherished from what I can gather.  At this stage in life, I have more friends who are moms than I do those who aren't.  I am finding that there is nothing that separates groups of women like motherhood.  I remember times in my singleness when awkwardness would arise and lines were drawn so to speak between girls who had boyfriends or were engaged, and those who weren't.  Distance gets further between marrieds and non-marrieds.  But nothing makes me feel more awkward and out of place than being around a group of moms. 

Now, don't get me wrong.  I have a lot of friends who are moms who still treat me the same; women I still go to lunch with and talk to the same as always.  There are others though who look at me as though I have sprouted a third arm just because I don't have children and am not pregnant.  They are moms and are therefore cool; and my lack of a pregnant belly makes me uncool.  Maybe I'm oversensitive to it and imagine more is there than what really is, but it feels as though some even treat me with--dare I say it??--disdain.  I am unworthy of their notice because I am not cool enough to be in their club. 

Last night I went to a women's Bible study at church.  I arrived alone and wasn't sure if I would know anyone else who would be there so as the room began filling up and friends found each other I was still sitting by myself.  A group of moms I know came in and I waved and said hi.  I got no response.  They sat a few chairs down from me but never once said hello.  It was as if I wasn't even there. I could have moved over to them and said hello, but honestly I felt like it would have been even more awkward to try to make conversation with people who obviously didn't want to talk to me than it would have been to continue sitting there alone.  So yes, I continued to act like I was 8 and expect friends to come to me.  Luckily, someone I do know who hasn't crossed over to the mom club showed up and sat with me.  Yay for friends :)

If this were an isolated event it wouldn't be a big deal.  And maybe it had more to do with my acquaintance like status with these women and not the fact that they are moms.  But more and more frequently I am getting snubbed by moms I know.  It's like they think I have nothing in common with them because I don't have a baby.  And they would be right.  I have nannied and cared for loads of kids but have never given life to one.  I don't know what morning sickness is like and I don't know how having a baby changes your body or your day or your marriage.  Some of them seem to get their status and sense of worth from their mom status.  And I don't know why that excludes me from their life, but for whatever reason, it does.  All my friends who are moms get together with their other friends who are moms and they don't seem to ever think to include me.  And as vulnerable and even silly it makes me feel to even say this, it really hurts.  I think what makes it even worse is that I so badly want to be a mom.  I have baby fever in the worst way.  I browse Craigslist for baby furniture that I am not buying yet.  We have names picked out.  So much of the ebb and flow between my Savior and I lately is about relinquishing to Him my desire for children and all the fears tied to it.  It's just not time yet.  And it's hard to watch everyone around you get pregnant and enter into that stage--and yes, that clique--of motherhood. 

Some are better than others at not treating you different.  Most are devoured by the mom group and leave you hanging on the peripheral, in that awkward place of being married yet without children.  Who knew it could be such a lonely place friendship wise?  Do you ever feel left out because you haven't obtained that next life stage yet?  Dave and I have tried so hard in our marriage to not just have couple friends and do couple things--we intentionally seek out our single friends because they are still important to us, and we're not going to stop hanging out with people just because we are married.  We intend on doing the same once we have kids.  In no way do I want to snub a friend of mine who doesn't have kids, or who isn't married, or anything else.  I think it's one reason why MOPS and mom groups kindof make me leery.  Why can't I just be friends with women and not women of a certain life stage?  I want people in my life who are fun and encouraging--whether they are 24 and single, 45 with kids, or 60 year old empty-nesters.  Why are we (especially the church) shoving people into life stage boxes?  One the one hand I get it because there is something great about living life with people who are going through the same life experiences as you.  But there is something to be said about excluding people from each other because of a lack of marriage or a lack of children.  Dave and I were glancing over our church bulletin the other day and noticed how all but a handful of the adult community groups at our church are defined by how old your children are.  So what if a couple is infertile and doesn't have kids?  Do they get pushed out?  Maybe they don't get an official boot letter from the church saying they can't come anymore, but you better believe they are affected by the way we do things. 

And the older I get --and the more mom snubbed I get--the more it bothers me.  Thoughts?

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