It’s been too long since I’ve published anything of controversial value. Forgive me.
This one springs from my recent experience with a mom who told me she didn’t hang out with her best friend anymore because this friend doesn’t have kids and “doesn’t have anything in common with me anymore.”
Warning: this video says a couple bad words and references sex. Oh, and is hilarious.
I’m sure this is a common occurence. There are probably billions of friendships that cool down once one party begins the parenting journey. Normal. I’d just never heard it put so bluntly before. All the same, it really really really bothered me. And to illustrate why, here is a little story.
When Jake and I had been married several years but were still not interested in having children, it seemed that we were the only ones. I do not exaggerate when I say that every get-together included an announcement. This had quite an adverse effect on me – so much so that I started to decline baby shower invitations just to maintain my sanity. (Could be seen as a bit insensitive, I now realize. But seriously, we’re talking a couple showers a week.)
The craziness hit a fever pitch when I ran into a good friend who had had a baby about six months prior. We chatted for a while before another recent mom friend saw us and came over. It took about three seconds before one asked the other the color of her baby’s poop after starting rice cereal. I suddenly became invisible while they compared notes on every grunt their kids made. For ten minutes.
Sure, they were new moms. And, of all people, I should understand the value of commiserating over the ups and downs of parenthood. But still, I felt obsolete; like a Friend 1.0 in a world of Friend 2.0s. I didn’t have kids, and therefore, what was the point?
This was so long ago I really should have forgotten all about it, but I can’t. I had made the choice not to have children – what if I hadn’t been able to? How devastating would that have been?
Now I am among the parenting crowd, and I’ll admit that it’s lovely to connect over something as close to me as my child – soon to be children. (!!!) It brings me enormous joy to meet so many people I never knew existed near me just because we have kids the same age. Going to the park might have been a solitary affair before, but now you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a cool parent to chat up. It’s awesome.
Having Seabass two years ago didn’t change my basic makeup. I still love Rage Against The Machine. I still love to knit. I still love to read The New Yorker and keep up with what’s going on in the world. I still love a good beer, and not just because it gives me a mini-vacation from a stressful day of lassoing The Wild Seabass. And I still love the friends who make me laugh until I snort, whether or not they have kids now.
I try really hard to keep in touch with them. They’ve grown fewer and fewer, of course, as they meet their mates, choose to procreate or overcome the battle of infertility. And I try really hard to let myself be a good friend to them without dominating the conversation waxing philosophic on whatever adorable things Seabass has learned to say lately. (“He says ‘choo choo’ instead of ‘train.’ Isn’t that PRECIOUS?!?!?!”) Besides, it’s relaxing to talk about budding relationships, work, and the newest movies, as though…well, as though I still go to the movies. Getting outside myself just feels nice.
In other words, I sincerely hope I never say anything like, “Now that I’m a mom, we can’t be friends” because it would honestly be my loss. And so, dear childless friends, please don’t give up on me if I don’t call you right back – or ever – and if I insist you come to my place for dinner because we can’t afford to hire a babysitter. We love you and need you in our lives.
- Funny post about friends without kids. (Warning: contains naughty words.)
- A rant on being dumped by non-parent friends.