Friday, September 21, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

I am feeling really sad about something and I thought I would share it with you. I didn't want to admit this to myself but I have finally come to the realization that I have lost one of my closest friends to childrearing.

It's not a loss in the way you might think. Yes, it's true that we spend less time together because it's harder for her to break away from the family. Our phone calls are fewer and farther between than in her pre-child days, but I expected that would happen. We don't do those long walks and talks in the park like we used to do. We can't meet up after work for dinner at a moment's notice. Actually, we can't meet up for dinner straight from work at all because there's too much to be taken care of before she can even consider a dinner out. First she's got to pick her son up from daycare, then she's got to take him home and cook dinner for him and her husband. Then she has to wait for hubby to get home so there's someone to watch her son and then - finally - at around 7:30 at night - she's finally free and we get an hour or two together.

But when we're together, we're not really together, and that's what's making me so sad. I am in mourning for the death of my friend's attention span.

In the old days, we had a true give-and-take relationship, and it was something I really treasured - the kind of friendship that is so rare - where each person shows sincere mutual interest in the other person - their ups and downs, their worries and concerns, their angers, joys and triumphs, the smallest details of their lives. It is something I have never taken for granted because I have met so few people who truly are interested in the other person. Most people are just living, walking blogs whose only desire is to have an audience to talk at.

This friend was the exception to the rule.

And now? The birth of my friend's son ushered in a complete change in her mental state. As can be expected, speaking with her on the phone now is an exercise in pointlessness with her 4 year old son continually interrupting, squeeling and demanding things. But the thing that is really upsetting me is that even when it's just the two of us - hanging out and spending what is supposed to be quality one-on-one time together, her attention span is nowhere to be found. In the old days, we could confide in each other and we'd each be rapt at attention, absorbing every word and offering each other support, advice and consolation. Now, I have to keep my stories short because I can tell within 30 seconds that her mind has wandered away. There is a glaze that comes over her eyes and then they start darting - she's not listening to me. Not only do her eyes give her away, but so do her responses - I get a lot of "yeah?", "hmmm...", "uh huh", and I can tell she hasn't heard a single word I've said. I am tempted to say something like, "I have been having suicidal thoughts lately" as a test to see if she's really paying attention.

Sadly, I have come to accept that my friend's brain has been completely rewired by childrearing and her attention span has sadly been wiped away. And when she does have the attention to have a conversation that is more than 2 minutes in length, you can guess what the conversation is about. Huggies anyone?

The final nail in the coffin is that she just had her second child and because of the costs of having two kids in daycare and the fact that she'd have to spend almost her entire salary to pay for it, she is now opting to be a stay-at-home-mom. So now, not only is her attention span gone, but there is no longer the array of topics to talk about. Her entire life is childrearing and nothing else. We can't gossip and vent about work anymore (well, I can, but what's the point since she isn't listening to me?). We can't talk about current events because the only media outlets she is exposed to now are populated by purple dinosaurs and other equally-annoying characters. No, her only interest is her kids and she can't even fake an interest in our friendship anymore.

Another one bites the dust.