One of the unexpected bonuses of moving back to Canada was ending up in the same city as friends from our graduate school days. They are, like Q. and I, a couple who met while pursuing graduate degrees. They are, like Q. and I, a mixed-nationality couple (she’s Canadian, he’s Irish). Their children, like E. and P., have dual citizenship and think nothing of travelling overseas; it’s just what you do to go visit one half of your family.
We really like them.
We almost never see them, even though they live relatively close by (if anyone can be said to be “close by” in this city if you have to drive to see them).
Partly this is because of their schedules- both parents work full-time in high pressure jobs. Someone is often away on a business trip. They’re not great at returning emails.
Partly this is because they are more Q.’s friends than mine and he’s not great at organizing social engagements. I usually take care of that side of the calendar but I’ve been dropping the ball when it comes to seeing our friends for, let’s face it, close to two years now. All I tried to do in 2016 was survive and then 2017 has been equally busy (if less stressful and filled with less sorrow) with kids and work and life.
We used to do better at getting together three or four times a year but in the last few years it’s really dropped off (case in point: we’ve seen them once since P. was born, and when we sent out an email announcing her arrival they were extra surprised and excited because they hadn’t known I was pregnant).
When we do get together, we always have a great time. We value their friendship. It’s a rare thing to have that length of history with someone when you’ve moved around as much as we have.
The sticking point is our kids.
Their two boys are ten and eight.
They have extracurricular activities, interests, friends of their own.
It was easy to make the time to get together when they were little and we didn’t have any children of our own yet.
It was still relatively easy to get together when E. was a baby because their boys weren’t yet in full-time school.
It’s much harder now.
I think intentions are good on both sides, but their kids have their own lives, and our kids are too young to be interesting on their own merit.
It’s one of the hidden costs of infertility nobody like to talk about because you look ungrateful if you voice any kind of regret after you’ve been able to build your family: you end up out of sync with your friends.
I don’t want to trade my family (I hope that goes without saying).
But there is no denying that if E. had been our second child (as he could have been if we’d been able to get and stay pregnant when we first started trying), our kids would fit more easily in with theirs. The same would be true of another set of good friends (who are relatively close by but not in the same city). Their kids are ten, nine, and six, and I know they spend a lot of time with another family with three kids similar in age to theirs. That family lives in the same city we do, so it’s not a question of geographic proximity.
It makes sense that this happens, but it’s still hard.
I have lots of women I talk to when I’m dropping E. off at school, who all obviously have children the same age as E. since they’re in his grade, but, despite my best efforts, I still haven’t managed to turn any of them into actual friends. We’re stuck at friendly.
My actual friends had their children before I did.
The oldest of those children will graduate from elementary school the same year P. starts.
It’s hard to catch up.