Two female friends are chatting. One, the one without kids, discovers that the one with kids is having a party.
“You’re having a Halloween party?” she says, surprised she didn’t know about it. “When were you going to ask me?”
“Yes,” says the mother, guiltily, realising she hadn’t mentioned it to her childless friend. “It will be full of kids, and I know you hate them.”
“I don’t hate kids,” No Kids friend says indignantly. “And I love YOUR kids.”
“OK, good,” says the mother, defensively,“come to the party.”
No Kids friend is hurt. The invitation seemed grudging and was most definitely an afterthought, she felt left out, and her love for her friend’s children had been discounted and forgotten. She was losing her friend; a friend who was shutting her out, instead of inviting her in.
A scene from real life? Not quite, but close to experiences I’ve had – though usually I found out about parties afterwards. Or wasn’t forceful enough to say that I would have liked to be invited. (So of course, it happened over and over again.)
No, this was a scene between Cristina and Meredith, on Grey’s Anatomy. It was nice to see such a real scene, so subtly done, included in a popular programme. So often these complexities of real relationships between mothers and their non-mother friends are ignored by modern media. But not on Grey’s. It was the first programme to – in my experience at least – show an ectopic pregnancy, and show some of the grief of that. It was Cristina again - she’s such a well-written character. And I've written before about how they deal with the issue of women and mothers. But back to the scene ...
The awkwardness of the conversation between the two, the hurt on Cristina’s face, and the guilt on Meredith’s, was authentic but not laboured. It was simply there, to be seen and hopefully understood. Perhaps women who relate primarily to the mother would have interpreted the interaction differently? I don't know. But the episode ended with Cristina turning up to the party (having brought cupcakes as requested), looking at her friend so involved with her children and those of her friends, and quietly leaving, feeling she had no place there.
I was watching the end of a friendship – or at least, the changing of a friendship to something much less than it had been – and it was so familiar to me. I had been there. And even now, it makes me sad.