The issue of friends having children comes up a lot on this blog. Which is surprising, since I still have relatively few friends with kids. I’m not exactly in a position to ruminate on how things change. However, I have heard from a lot of women–moms and not moms–about how kids affect the friendship picture.
Both camps seem to agree that kids can make things different. As Katie said just yesterday in the comments, “it doesn’t appear that you’ve crossed the ‘local gal pal becomes a new mom’ line, where it can be tough to navigate the shift in friendship…and not just for local friends, old friends as well.”
I’ll be honest. When I started my BFF search in 2010, I was quite sure I wouldn’t become great friends with a new mom. It felt, back then, that the mothers and I were worlds apart.
Until I met Jillian, my new pal who not only had a kid but had twins. And I realized that having kids or not wasn’t really the issue. The issue was whether or not someone else put the same value as I do on friendship. Jillian did, and so we made time for each other. Did that time sometimes involve her children? Yes, of course. And they are some cute little boys. But just as often, if not more so, our grownup playdates were dinner dates or pedicure-and-US-Weekly meetings or book club. I went to her house once for bath time, and she came to a bar—on a school night!—recently to see me read.
That she’s a mom is one thing about her, but not everything, and it certainly didn’t keep us from being friends. (And now I have a pic of her boys on my fridge! Seriously, they’re to die for.)
Last week I mentioned that one of the reasons a woman might launch a BFF search is because her friends have gotten married, moved to the suburbs, and had kids. I said this because I’ve heard it from so many women. Their lifelong pals have moved away and they want to supplement that pal with someone locally.
In response to this post, Rose, another reader, made an interesting point. She wrote: “There is definitely a vibe on your blog that women must be exiled when they get married and starting having kids. … When I have kids, my friends better not go hunting for a new friend to replace me. … I’m looking for friends with the maturity to last through changes in life.”
Ana echoed her sentiments, “I agree a bit with Rose that their is an attitude about ‘moms’ that is pretty pervasive among the childless. … Though my life has turned upside down after having my kids, I am still ME and still enjoy the same things I did before. I do not have this sudden new group of ‘mom friends’—I want to keep the friends I already had!”
I’ve certainly never meant to foster an anti-mom sentiment (and certainly not an anti-married one, as I’m married myself and don’t want to be exiled!), but I’ve also been honest, I hope, about my fears that friendships might change when my besties have kids. Or, when I have kids. As someone who who very much hopes to have a family one day, my close friends have often bet that I would be the first.
So I guess what I’m wondering is this: Is there an underlying hostility between moms and non-moms when it comes to friendship? Is there, as Ana said, an anti-mom attitude among the childless? Or an anti single-girl out on the prowl attitude among the married? Are the vibes that Rose was getting a reflection of how it is out there between women? And how does that affect friendship? Sound off below!