Little Bastards

I felt like I needed a vacation from my vacation when I got back to New York. Also, a juice cleanse. But since those require a level of willpower I do not possess, I decided to work out really hard instead.

I was supposed to go out to dinner with Ashley and Nina to catch up, but I convinced them to bag our reservation and instead check out this new class that the Time Out New York reviewer said was so hard she had to leave in the middle of it. I lied and told Ashley and Nina it was a yoga class and when the instructor demanded we drop and give her twenty—”The real kind none of this on your knees girly bullshit!”—Nina “accidentally” stepped on my fingers. Afterwards, we walked to my apartment, showered and ordered healthy: Greek Salad from my local diner that comes with a pound of feta and a loaf of pita. My feet will never be able to move as fast as my fingers.

As we dug for nuggets of cheese, I told them about my weekend.

“Babies? Gross.” Nina had this look on her face like she’d just sucked on a lime post-tequila shot. Nina wants kids but can’t stand other people’s. I once suggested that maybe this is not the best sign, to which she replied, “I know I’ll like my own.”

“There was also a five year old who informed me that he was a little bastard.”

Nina spit out her water. “What?!”

“He said that’s what his daddy calls him.”

Nina burst out laughing.

“That’s not funny!” Ashley said. “The poor kid.”

“To be fair, he was kind of a bastard,” I said. “He kept pulling the dog’s tail and kicking his mom in the shins when she told him to stop.”

“Oh the joys we have to look forward to in life,” Ashley said.

“The joys you have to look forward to,” I corrected.

“Josie, come on,” Ashley said. “You know you’re going to pop at least one out. Stop trying to be so anti-establishment.”

“Maybe I will.” I shrugged. “I’m telling you, the only thing I think when I see a baby is, ‘Life ruiner!’ I can’t write the next great American novel with mini ET screaming in my ear.” If you want the armchair explanation of why I don’t think I want kids, I could tell you that my mom raised me to value my career first. That if I ever decide to have kids, I should do it later in life, once I’m established professionally. And that I should never, ever drop out of the rat race to stay at home with them because I just never know what could happen. “I can’t tell you how many friends of mine never went back to work and now they’re divorced and can’t get a job because they’ve been out of the workforce for over twenty years,” my mom told me. But even if my mom hadn’t been the OG Sheryl Sandberg, even if I’d been raised by Susie homemaker herself, I still think I’d feel every bit as meh about the prospect of children. I just don’t feel that tug on my heart when I see a baby. On the contrary, the very sight of a child makes me want to take a big ole nap. Whenever I babysat in high school and college, I was bored to tears after five minutes. Ashley is great with kids—I’ve seen her in action. I’m missing that chip. Having a family is not high on my priority list right now. People tell me all the time that will change, and I’m not arrogant enough to think that I’ve got it all figured out at twenty-five years old. But for right now, this is what I know about how I feel.

“Oh!” Nina said. “That reminds me. One of my grad school friends has a friend who’s writing a cover story for The Hudson about millennials who are ambivalent about kids. She needs people to interview. Would you do it?”

“Yeah, send her my info,” I said.

“Well, it doesn’t sound like Peter is ambivalent about having kids,” Ashley said.

“Guys are so lucky,” Nina sighed. “He’s like a hundred years old and he still doesn’t have to worry about pulling the trigger.”

“That’s why the age difference isn’t an issue,” I said. “He wants kids, but he said he’s happy waiting a few more years and biologically, he can. I think he realized that when he tried to work things out with Elizabeth. Like why would he rush into something with her and settle for being linked to a crazy woman for the rest of his life when he doesn’t have to?” Peter and I had a long talk on our way back from Nantucket—more on that later.

“Well, Tom is ready,” Ashley said. Both Nina and I fell silent. Tom is Ashley’s married boss. Separated but still married. Also, still her boss—she hasn’t found a new job yet.

“Are you ready?” Nina asked.

“He makes me feel ready,” Ashley said. I kept my mouth shut. It’s possible that this could work out, and I don’t want to be the naysayer who said it couldn’t.

“Brad is definitely not ready,” Nina said about her boyfriend. “And thank god.”

The next morning, I sent Grady a text: Sorry I’ve been so MIA. Been busy at work and was away for the holiday weekend. If I’m being totally honest, I don’t think I’m ready to be dating right now. I just got out of a relationship, and my job has been demanding a lot of me and I need to give it my full attention. I hope you understand.

It wasn’t the full truth, obviously. Yes, my job is demanding a lot of me, but I’m still finding the time for Peter. I just don’t think the truth is always warranted in this kind of situation, especially if it will unnecessarily hurt someone’s feelings. No need to make Grady feel bad by telling him I just can’t hook up with someone who might get my underwear confused with his. Grady never wrote back, and that’s fine. I wouldn’t have written back to that either.

Even though I had an amazing time with Peter over the weekend, I needed to take a few days and, “Do me,” as the kids say. I don’t say this flippantly—like it’s justsoooo easy to pump the brakes with someone like Peter. But Peter and I had a good talk on the way home from Nantucket. I refused to get into that small plane again, meaning we had to take the ferry from Nantucket to Hyannis (one hour), then rent a car and drive six hours back to New York. So there was pahhh-lenty of time for us to talk. I told him about this article I read in Cosmopolitan (winkie wink) that said that it can be very tempting to just pick up where you left off with an ex without ever really discussing the factors that caused you to break up in the first place. For me, my main issue was that I felt like I was nothing more than Peter’s little rebound until he got back together with his ex. I want to feel like his equal, and I never want to feel the way I did that night at the charity dinner with Elizabeth and her family.  I had a lot of trust issues with Peter, but they were specific to Elizabeth. When we dated last year, she was still in the picture somewhat. I don’t think Peter was fully over her yet (well, obviously, he wasn’t!). But now that Peter doesn’t work with her father anymore, and now that she’s having a baby with someone else, it seems all ties had been severed.

On his end, Peter felt his biological clock ticking (Paraphrasing here. Peter would never be so lame to say he felt his biological clock ticking). He felt like he couldn’t be serious with someone as young as me. But getting back together with Elizabeth was a good thing in the end, he said, because it made him realize that just because two people want a baby at the same time, does not mean they should have one together.

“That’s why we only lasted a month,” he said. “It quickly became clear that we got a divorce for a good reason.”

After that disaster, Peter realized he was a man, damnit! His swimmers were good for a few more years and there was no need to rush into something just to produce an heir.

It seems the issues that broke us up have been resolved, and somewhat organically. But that aside, I also don’t want us getting so serious right now. I only have so much energy to devote to different facets of my life, and I need to direct as much of it as possible to my job. I told Peter this, and he says he understands. When he dropped me off at my apartment earlier in the week, he said he would text me on Friday to see what I was up to. It’s Thursday and we haven’t spoken since. I guess this is what it feels like to take things nice and slow, and truth be told, I don’t hate it.

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