Controversy Wednesday: FRIENDS WITHOUT KIDS

18 Apr

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.

Stock photos slay me. Who is this cute after having kids? And who is inviting her friends over for a glass of wine while their toddler is still conscious?!?!? AND WHY IS HER HOUSE SO SPOTLESS???

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.


9 Responses to “Controversy Wednesday: FRIENDS WITHOUT KIDS”

  1. thebodyhairchallenge April 18, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    You need to look closely at the stock photo. The Mother is the one with the wine, and she is laughing maniacally at the lowly nanny who is sobbing as she takes the baby away.

  2. Linda Z April 18, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    I love friends of all ages and stages. Including you. I miss you. 😦

    • Solange January 21, 2013 at 6:58 am #

      I agree this is a great suggestion. While redaing through posts and comments, I like to know where the advice is coming from. It would be great if next to each name, a few details showed up such as: Son/Daughter/Baby/Child/StepChild (if you didn’t want to disclose sex of child)Age (is there a way for HB to calculate this based on an entered birth month/year?) *Profile would be able to accommodate multiple children (maybe up to 4?) Also if no children yet – TTC status (maybe someone can suggest what should go here? Should there be a length listed, such as cycle #10 or something?)

  3. Marta April 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Yes yes yes! (Also the video was hilarious) as still with a 5 year old and 18 month old I am the only one of my close friends to have kids. My friends are only starting to get married now. I have absolutely no desire to stop being their friends (and I hope the feelings mutual) just because we’re in different phases of our lives. I think it helps that we don’t live near each other, though this also makes it much more difficult in other ways. It allows us to catch up (and honestly me to relive the glory days of nights being for drinking) without feeling like “they don’t understand me.” One day we’ll talk about the color of poop, but it will probably be me frowning and trying to remember what color it was 6 years ago.

    • charityliz April 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      ahhhh!!! Jaime! You are brilliant! I love the way you write (about everything), but this was an especially genuine and classy take on being the mom who remembers life before being a mom. PS: And that video link is hilarious!

  4. pjayowns April 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    That video is hysterical, and I agree with the first comment – that woman holding the wine glass looks like a maniac. Oh yeah, and I love your writing. And you.
    Dear Old Mom

  5. Colby April 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    What comes to mind is back when we were all single and one of your friends would get a boyfriend/girlfriend and then you’d never see them again….until they were single again. This ALWAYS drove me nuts and ultimately those friends faded away. I think it’s the same with friends who don’t have kids/do have kids….real friends find a way to stay in each other’s life not matter what your status is. You find things that link you and those things are good reminders why you’re friends in the first place. If you find there aren’t any things linking you then maybe it makes sense to look a little closer at why you are friends and if you should stay friends. Just my two sense. Great post, as always, Jaime!

  6. Jerry's wife April 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    The video was hilarious, especially the Japanese pizza. We’ve done way more dumping of friends WITH kids before we had kids. We loved to eat dinner at 8pm, go on spur of the moment road trips and talk about what a better job WE would do keeping our kids in line. Ha ha!

    If we ever dumped a childless friend, it was either because we were on survival mode or maybe the feeling was kind of mutual (sorry, Jerry doesn’t have the time anymore to spend a weekend playing video games, mountain biking and spear fishing and it is ok to find friends who can.) We’ve loved having childless friends when we had kids. They are the only ones who can come over to our house for dinner and a movie and stay late, go hiking at the drop of a hat, or be able to stay by my side all night long while I was in labor. I wish we had more childless friends left!

  7. Kismet Happens April 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    Hi Jamie! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and I love your refreshing, funny, and honest take on parenthood.

    My boyfriend and I have agreed, at least for the time being, that we don’t want to have kids. (I read about you and Jake both changing your minds at one point…we’ll see where life takes us!) But this choice often makes me the childless friend, and I do find that at times, I will pass on the occasional baby shower, birthday party, etc.

    Sometimes all the kid stuff can be a bit much, especially around new parents. And it’s like they gather in bunches. If you go to a baby shower, you find yourself surrounded by expectant mothers and people with kids. It feels like all they talk about is poop, diapers, breast feeding, you get the idea. Mostly, it just makes us childless friends feel left out, and like we don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation.

    However! I have to agree with Colby. Real friends find a way to stay in each other’s lives.

    I have a number of friends who have children, and finding the time to get together is a bit of a challenge, but well worth the wait. When we do get together, it’s just like old times! We are reminded of why we became friends in the first place and simply appreciate any opportunity to catch up.

    Thanks for writing about this. It really hit home!

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