Before my husband and I were married we were extraordinarily social.  We each had a large network of friends, with considerable overlap (hence our meeting).  It seemed like everyone I knew was single or had gotten married within the last few years, despite the mid-late-thirties-and-up age bracket we were in.  Being social was necessary; there was no one to come home to and we all had to spend long hours outside the home hunting and gathering emotional sustenance.  Now that we’re married, my husband and I have lapsed into our lazy introverted ways, and the phone doesn’t ring much. 

But there are other reasons.  For a while I thrashed around blaming many friends and acquaintances for judgmental attitudes towards our infertility, our discontent with it, and medical approaches to it.  But now I think I’m the one who is uncomfortable.  Our life feels like a slutty disco sandal from a bygone era; doesn’t fit, is uncomfortable, and isn’t me.  But I don’t have a shoe that does fit, and so it’s hard to go many places.  Because I’m not happy with our childlessness, I’m not socializing well. 

Our options for socializing are: married friends with children, married friends post-infertility, which I suppose is "child-free," married friends in-between (generally infertile and still deciding what to do), and single friends.  Married friends with children are a hard group to break in to.  I know wonderful married-with-children people with whom I’d like to be friends.  I’m always drawn to people who have what I want, even if they have no way of moving me closer to my goals.  I generally invite people for dinner as an overture; I can show off my cooking and hostessing and it kicks things off well. 

But I end up feeling dumb, and then I end up feeling sad.  Because I’m not sure how it works.  I know that people with kids sometimes get a babysitter, which is expensive; but they like to get out sometimes.  It seems like being able to take kids with is the best idea even if it compromises your evening.  I don’t want to sound anti-kids when I invite people, but I don’t have a great "kid area" in my house for any kids to go to, and so I don’t know if a couple with kids could come to dinner at my house and bring them.  I’m happy to serve them at my table and all that but I know they would get bored quickly.  I do have a sort of TV room but I feel like it will be kid-wrong in some way that I can’t anticipate, and then the parents will look at each other pityingly and say "well, how could they know?"  My nephew Jonny looked at me once and said "Don’t you have any toys?"  I felt every inch the mean old no-fun aunt. 

Thinking about this for three minutes has me practically in tears.  Infertility is warping my brain.  It makes me doubt that I was ever "supposed to" have kids.  I never did a lot of babysitting, I didn’t have younger siblings, I am not one of those women who went out of her way to have kid experiences before she had her own.  Is that the problem?  Does that disqualify me somehow? 

It’s messed up.  It’s like the fence around the playground.  We have a fabulous playground right across the street.  My husband took it into account when he bought this house 12 years ago.  He knew he wanted kids.  I walk past that playground every day and it’s starting to feel like that fence is to keep me out.  I don’t belong.  Wanting, not getting, not becoming who we long to become, does that to your heart, I guess.  It’s never just about having: kids, Big Wheels, chaos, family.  It’s also about being: nurturer, life-giver, flexible, unselfish, connected.  There are things that you don’t become until the situation demands it, but in my grief it starts to bleed backwards until I wonder if I was supposed to earn motherhood by showing I have those things ahead of time.  Grief is so distorting.

Socializing with NKBC people, be they post-infertility or just NKBC all the way, is heartbreaking too.  I can’t relate to "child-free."  When my friends talk about their next vacation or re-doing a perfectly good living room, I want to sob for the emptiness of their lives.  Obviously their lives aren’t empty to them.  But I get scared, probably the same way my husband gets scared when I talk about so-and-so’s new baby from Guatemala or China.  Don’t try and talk me into that.  I see the good in that life, but my heart just won’t go there.

This leaves infertility people, and you’d be amazed at how many of them will not talk about it.  Sometimes I get the feeling they aren’t talking to each other about it.  Which means they probably don’t want me talking about it.  But I don’t know how not to.

Single people are easiest, sometimes; they feel in between and left behind and forgotten by God just like I do.  They aren’t smug and they don’t throw around platitudes.  But they don’t always love socializing with a married couple either, just like I wouldn’t love socializing with pregnant people, be they blissful or complaining. 

Then there’s the conflict.  The people who have disagreed with me, or who I have disagreed with, on some of these very high-stakes issues.  The deeper the pain, the more opportunities for hurt feelings all around.  Some of these disagreements got healed and some didn’t.  We all have our own deep pain and our dice rolled out the way they did and sometimes the best thing to do is just stay in our own yards.  So there’s a few more guest lists I get dropped from, and I can’t blame anybody but myself. 

What’s left is not much in the way of a social life.  It doesn’t help that my husband and I could be happy just with each other for most of forever, and there isn’t a lot of motivation to get out there.  But I miss it, and I don’t think it’ll get better until I get better.  Which is probably independent of kids and has to happen in my heart.  Won’t happen today; we’re going to a movie with each other and that’ll be that.

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