You worry. You don’t want to worry, but you do. You know that it makes you selfish and childish and incapable of growing with the rest of the world, but you also know that you can’t help it. You grew up with this person, you knew them since they were basically a child themselves, the idea of them creating something is too scary to even consider.
Why is it scary, though? Part of it has to be the obvious reasons — are they going to become lame, lose sight of who they are, forget what made the two of you so close to begin with? It’s all very centered around your friendship, when now their life is clearly (and rightfully) going to be centered around their child. You always knew that this era of friendship being more relevant and important than anything else would have to come to an end, but you didn’t want it to be now.
Because your friend having a kid makes you realize that you are now at the age where having kids is a thing, and not some shameful adolescent pregnancy that needs to be hidden away from the rest of polite society. It means that you could be having kids, and that it is something the rest of the world wouldn’t be shocked by. If they are entering this part of their life, so are you, even if you don’t have all of the milestones people are expected to be hitting.
They assure that they’re going to be a cool parent, that they’re not going to lose their head, that they’ll still be fun. And you know that this probably won’t be true, but how could it be? Every parent loses him or herself a little bit, it’s only natural. You’ve seen it happen many times before, they just weren’t close enough to you to make you really feel it. But that’s what happens when you create a life — you lose a little bit of your own. You gain so much, but there is so much that you have to give to them. And that means that responsibility, something the two of you were once allergic to, is now part of their life in a deep way.
No one owes you their immaturity, though. No one should have to promise you to stay young and carefree when their life clearly won’t allow it. It’s selfish in the most profound way because it insists on placing you centrally in a life that is not your own. When you feel that twinge of fear that the best, most lovely and carefree days of your friendship are now firmly behind you, it is almost immediately followed by a twinge of guilt. You have no right to feel that way, even if you know it’s true.
My friend recently said, “No one who has kids is actually cool. It’s mutually exclusive.” I reminded him that his brother, just two short years older, had recently had his first child. Was he uncool? “I mean, maybe it takes a little while… but it definitely happens. He just doesn’t know it yet.” Of course, with even a moment of reflection, I don’t agree with this. But it’s a gut feeling, a fear that can be hard to escape.
When your friend is having a baby, it’s the kind of news that makes you look around at everything in your own life. What are you doing? What are you creating? What are you ready for? If you were to have a child tomorrow, would you be able to accommodate for it? So much of your life is centered around immediate pleasures and the ability to be completely free, but all around you people are putting down foundations and building something much more concrete. How long is your life going to be made of tissue and silk, when will it start to make room for someone else? If your friend can do it — and do it so well, with such seeming ease — what do they have that you don’t?