Today I ran into an old high school acquaintance. In my other lifetime, such an encounter would have been generally pleasant. In this life, such meetings can be terrifying.
We were able to get through much of our whispered conversations talking about the event that we were both attending. Shop talk. Enjoyable verbal distraction between presentations.
Talk turned to work. What do you do now? Oh, isn't that nice - do you enjoy that? Yes, I answer, but it would be nice to work less overtime and see more of my husband.
Oh, well, having children changes all that, she replies breezily and knowingly. You have to prioritize and make them your focus. In that tone of voice reserved for use around the childless. A little condescending. And she pulls out the pictures.
Then the presentation starts again, conversation truncated.
Of course, she wasn't trying to be hurtful - I haven't thought of her in 10 years, and I am quite certain there would be no way for her to know about my son. But I was saddened by my performance. Why wasn't I more assertive - why didn't I tell her that I have a son, too?
It just was all so awkward. Of course I always tremble a bit when I see an old acquaintance. I know that this type of situation can come up. I just always imagine myself handling it with such class. And I don't really feel classy about this. I feel gypped. Why didn't I get the opportunity to brag about my son? Why was I so chicken about claiming my title as "Mother"? Why do I allow social mores to rule my behaviour, even though I talk so big about always claiming my son. I had an opportunity to do that today, but it felt too out of place.
I wish that I could talk openly about my son, my pregnancy, and his birth, in the way that women with living children do. What is stopping me?
It just isn't as easy to do as it is to say.