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Baby Obligation

January 21, 2010

I’m at the age (31) where I have a lot of friends who have children.  To define a lot (because what does that word really mean without context?): when I do a quick count of close friends within an hours drive who have kids, my count is at 6.

At first it was so much fun and I couldn’t get enough of visiting and playing with my friends’ babies.  And then something changed.  It turned from something novel and fun, to an obligation… and usually, an obligation I never felt I was fulfilling.

I don’t think my friends mean to guilt me, but hear are some of the things I hear quite often: “Baby X wants to know when Auntie Roxy is coming over to see her” or “We haven’t seen you in so long, you won’t even recognize him when you see him next” or “You realize it’s been almost 6 months since you’ve seen your niece” or “We miss you (usually attached to a picture mail of the kids sent to my cell phone)”.   Well each time something like this is said to me, I feel like a horrible friend and even more, a horrible auntie.  I become overwhelmed with guilt.  Especially if that friend witnessed how I gushed over the kids born a few years ago.

Five years ago is when my friends first started having children and in the beginning, well let’s say…  I set the bar quite high for myself.  I was at the hospital for the birth or there within hours.  I visited on the regular.  I bought extravagant gifts and gifts galore for no reason other than I was in the baby/child section and I couldn’t help myself.  For one friend, I flew down to Florida for the birth of her first baby.  Yeah, those kids who are now between the ages of 3 to 5 got the best of me.

But now, I’m tired.  I can no longer spend the kind of money I used to because there are now just too many of them.  There’s no such thing as short visits… each visit is a 4-5 hour block.  Most of the kids who live around here live in the suburbs so it’s still a schlep for me to get there (and rest assured, 7 times out of 10- I’m expected to go to them… folks rarely come to me).  I guess it’s much easier for me to hop in my car and go versus them having to travel with a baby.

I’m a people pleaser, so between that and my Catholic guilt (and oh, the fact that I actually want to give each child the same attention I used to give 5 years ago when this whole thing was still novel)… I feel obliged to make each child (and their parents) feel loved.   And they are… loved, by me.  But sometimes, it becomes too much to show how much I love them.

I’m 31 and single and I should be able to benefit from the few perks that come with being 31 and single.  That I can sleep in on the weekends or take naps in the middle of the day and go out on weekend nights.  If I spent a day with each child/family every couple months… I would basically need to spend part of each weekend traveling around the greater DC area visiting with children.

How do I find the balance?  Spend time with my loved ones and their new additions but still keep my sanity and not get overwhelmed by it all.  When did my friends having babies become such an obligation?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 22, 2010 8:00 am

    my family hasn’t visited me in YEARS because of the children and I’m starting to get bitter about it even though I shouldn’t and it’s my family and all that but I’d love to have them here and it seems like an impossible idea to them. Sigh…

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