It's a touchy subject for everybody, the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.
Is there anything more patronizing than "You couldn't understand"? I don't think I was actually ever told this by a parent back when I was childless, but that's probably because my only friend with children for years and years was far too thoughtful to say such things. And for what it's worth, I haven't had to bite my own tongue to keep from saying it to any of my childless friends, but that's probably because they're all too nice to criticize my parenting.
And yet. I feel the gulf opening, widening. There's the innocent suggestion we all go out to dinner. Yeah, unless you're talking about Cracker Barrel and an exit strategy, no, just no. There's the expression on their faces when I hit a certain level of detail about my son's sleep patterns. There's my sudden impatience, best unexpressed, that they get the hell on with it and have babies already (Chromosomal abnormalities! Difficulty conceiving! There's no good time! I need someone else to talk to about nipple pain!), as I now wish I had done five years earlier, knowing now what I blithely ignored then. There's my dread that I'm turning into one of those people who can only talk about parenthood (Did I blog any of my previous interests? I did not.), even though I'm perfectly aware that I still care a lot about important things like foreign policy and Top Chef.
The pleasant thing about the gulf, though, is that those of us on this side of it do cling together with new warmth and understanding. I never felt any particular solidarity with other childless adults, but I grin stupidly at other parents with babies at Target and wish them well from the bottom of my heart. There is a new depth and complexity in my relationship with Carrie, my best friend. We've been BFFs for more than half our lives, and I feel closer to her now than I ever have before.
I'm not afraid of losing the friends on the other side. The gulf is more of a crick; we can still reach across it for RPGs, for gossip, for family drama, for history, for bitching about Battlestar Galactica's absurdly long hiatuses. And I'm confident that the gulf will matter less when parenting isn't such a raw experience, when my kid spends more time in school than in my arms, when I've had a little more time to get used to the whole idea of being somebody's mom.
Plus, I hear a lot of talk lately from certain quarters about plans to ford the gulf. I promise to be patient. I just want you to know I'm waiting on the other side with a towel and dry clothes and lots and lots and lots to say about nipple pain.