“I'm going to be so bored,” my best friend admitted. We were sitting in her son's nursery while my daughter slept in her infant carseat. The only thing missing was her baby. He hadn't been born yet.
My friend had worked all her life. She and I had been college roommates. We bascially grew up together and became the women we were now, sitting in her son's room by his crib. She lifted her highly pregnant self and went downstairs to make tea.
“What am I going to do all day?” I heard her say as she tiptoed to the kitchen. Being a SAHM, I smiled to myself as I followed her down the stairs. We talked about my life, how most days flew by and yet some seemed to linger forever before night fell. I watched my friend's eyes as they darted this way and that. I could see she did not understand a word I was saying. How could she? Her impending motherhood would teach her well.
Four months later. We were in a coffee shop. My best friend's eyes were red and swollen.
“Why didn't you tell me?” she cursed under her breath. I stirred my chai, shifting my pregnant self in the chair. What could I say to her? She seemed distraught.
“I'll be going back to work next week. Where did the time go? I had no idea I would spend so much time getting nothing done!” she wailed into her cappuccino. “I mean, I had plans. Big plans. I was going to crochet an entire baby blanket, paint the hallway, and carpet the bedroom. It didn't seem like a lot. Heck! When I was single, that would have been a weekend project!” I kept stirring my tea, wondering what words of wisdom I could impart to my friend. Her eyes welled up as she admitted she didn't think leaving her son to return to work would be as hard as it felt now. She felt miserable and couldn't bear to leave him with someone else.
The next week I called her every night to see how she was feeling. After a few months, she settled into a nice routine and felt working part-time was okay. There were hard days, but for the most part, she felt fine about the balance she had found with work and family life.
We would often meet on her days off. She loved the days when she was home with her son. Picking at the carpet with her finger one day, she looked at me with envy.
“You seem to have it all. A writing career and you stay home with your kids! I wish I had what you have.” I thought about the untidy household I ran, the half-eaten honey toast sitting on my desk, and the sheets that needed to be washed. I had been feeling a bit disheveled lately. Good things were happening writing-wise, but my house seemed to have fallen apart because of my neglect. I pondered what she had said for a moment.
“The grass is always greener, eh?” I winked at my friend who seemed lost in thought. Her nails sparkled in the sunlight. She had a son and still had time for a manicure. I wondered how she did it. Just then, a fax came through her machine. My friend glanced over the paperwork and apologized that she had some work to do for the office. I politely said my good-byes as my friend picked up the phone to dial a client's number. Lingering in the doorway, I watched my friend's back tense as she flipped through some papers on her desk. Maybe office life wasn't all it was cracked up to be. She never seemed to be away from the office, even when she was at home. I silently closed the front door.
A few weeks later she told me she was pregnant with her second little boy. We hugged each other tight, thrilled that we would be having our second babies within the same year.
Eight months later. My infant son slept upstairs and my daughter was at her morning preschool. The phone rang.
“I've decided it,” I heard my best friend's determined voice say on the other end. “I'm not returning to work when Lucas is born in October. That's it. I've had it with the overtime, the panythose and the late-night meetings. I'm going to be a SAHM, just like you!”
I smiled. I wondered if she was aware that her overtime had just begun. That her “late-night meetings” would resume when her second baby was born. It didn't matter, though. She had listened to her heart. Her heart had won. For a moment, I could have sworn I could hear her grin ten miles away.