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!
88 responses to “Is There an Anti-Mom Sentiment When It Comes to Friendship?”
I mean, I don’t think the vibe is animosity about it, but it is pretty much a fact that single and childless women are going to have different priorities and focuses than married women with children. As several of your readers pointed out, friendships can certainly last between moms and not-moms…but usually not without some acrobatics on the part of both women in the relationship. As you said, Jillian really wanted to be your friend and made it a priority, which is fantastic and sadly, I’ve found, rare. The reverse situation I often find myself in is that I find a great new pal, but I pretty much have to be the one that fits into her schedule (and you know, that’s reasonable; her priority is her family). But that still kind of sucks for me. I have to go over to her house to hang out, for example, while she is feeding the kids and puts them to bed. She has never once been over to my house because it would necessitate a sitter, etc. This is all just to say: is it possible for moms and not-moms to be friends? Of course! But is it more difficult than being friends with someone in the same life stage as you are? YES.
I agree. I only have one married friend with a kid who lives near me and our hanging out absolutely revolves around her family. Fine. I like her husband. But at times when her life gets too crazy with work, school, and her kid I feel like I’m 100th on the list because my texts and phone calls go ignored, she never calls me back when she says she will, and, as is the case now, we might go a month without hanging out. Logically I understand that life gets crazy but emotionally for me it sucks because I feel ignored and unimportant.
Not to mention since I’ve lived in my apartment she’s only been here twice and never any longer than it takes to pick me up on our way somewhere. We always have to hang out at her house and very very rarely do we get to do anything without her son in attendance which means we have to do something 9 year old appropriate. This is to say that I get conflicted when we aren’t hanging out too much because I feel ignored but it also gives me a break from her son who, at the best of times, is merely tolerable (I generally like kids even if I don’t want them but this kid would try the patience of Mother Teresa).
In other words being a non-married, non-mother person with a married parent for a friend can make the friendship feel very lopsided at times because the person without a kid has to make the most concessions.
What about going out at night when the husbands come home? I have two kids, 3.5 and 5.5, and go out at least one night a week with my girlfriends, after 8pm so the kids are in bed.
Boy, can I relate to this! What is worse, though, is when you lament to them about it and the breeders get all defensive. Worse still is when they adopt that fricken “holier than thou” attitude, as though by lying on their backs for ten minutes one drunken evening and then pushing and grunting for 10 hours one day was some sort of accomplishment. As someone with chronic insomnia and bowel problems, I can assure you I push and grunt a lot more than that and nary a night goes by that I get more than a few hours of sleep. So does that make me superior to someone who sleeps well and has a healthy bowel? Of course not! So, to the breeders I say this: Get off your friggin’ high horses and stop looking at non-moms as freaks of nature or subhumans. The fact is we can, and probably are, doing MUCH more with our childless, free-to-do-anything-we-want lives, even if it’s just going to an R rated movie any damn time of day we want, so STFU and go sterilize your nipples. 🙂
I think you hit the nail on the head here… the difference isn’t between moms and non-moms, it’s between women who value one-on-one time for friends and those who don’t. I suspect what you have sensed sometimes happens is that women become a mom and then their whole identity becomes wrapped up in that aspect of their life. And let’s be honest, that happens to (almost) all first-time moms initially. Becoming a mom is a huge, encompassing identity shift. BUT after settling into the role, we are all still people, with (hopefully!) interests in life outside of our children. I find it sad when some women can’t seem to find / maintain an identity outside of their children. Although I don’t have the schedule flexibility i used to, I still value — indeed, crave — one-on-one time with my girlfriends, where we gossip and laugh and see adult movies and vent. It will be interesting to see your experience after you have kids, but I know I valued friendship before having kids, and I still do, and I make time for it.
And that’s the key! Ensuring you do maintain that life outside the home with friends. I crave it as well.
I keep looking for a ‘like’ button around here. 🙂
My best friend recently had a baby, and it has changed things a little. We’re still friends, but sometimes, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I’m jealous of the attention the baby gets. I haven’t gotten to spend adult-only time with her since her baby was born, and I miss that. I also just got married and realize my non-married friends may feel the same about me not paying as much attention to them with the addition of my husband. Sharing time and attention is hard, but I hope to make it work.
My BFF (a lifer) just had her first child in September. Although I saw her at least twice a month when she was pregnant (she was on bedrest, and I was helping out at the house and keeping her company when her hubs was traveling for work), I have seen her very little since her baby was born. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that baby, they call me auntie, and I cried when she told me she was pregnant, and when I met the baby. I have tried, and she has a little bit as well, but she has canceled on me the last three times. I know that when the baby has had a bad night, she is not up for company or leaving the house. But when we make plans, I have often told others (increasingly, my brand new boyfriend) that I’m busy and can’t hang out, so I am frustrated when she cancels. I am a busy girl, and can’t always “play it by ear,” as she would prefer. The whole thing is feeling really heartbreaking lately, and I’m open to advice anyone has. My current plan is to ride it out, and hope that things will get better with time as she adjusts to being a new parent, and I adjust to having a BFF with a baby.
Ema, my advice is to plan something like a morning walk on the weekend when the baby can travel along in the stroller, or wait just a wee bit longer until the baby can handle time with dad or a sitter. The first few months are HARD (sleep deprivation in particular is a killer) but it will get better!
Definitely try to ride it out, the first few months are all about survival, especially if her husband is still traveling a lot for work. Once the baby is sleeping a little and not nursing every 2-3 hours, your friend should be able to (and desperately want to) get out on her own.
dear ema –
Hang in there! You’re absolutely right to plan to ride it out! I was one of the last in my group of friends to have a kid, so I totally know how you’re feeling – I remember being astounded as one after another, friends would drop off the face of the earth for what seemed to be a long time. Then I had twins, and for a long time, it was all I could do to get through the day with all the sleep deprivation I was experiencing. The spacetime continuum got very warped – what seems to you like a long time might feel like a millisecond to her, and vica versa. But I also have a strong commitment to friendship, so I really tried my best not to allow too much distance to develop between me and my friends. And it did hurt when I realized that some of them hadn’t felt like waiting until I resurfaced from the throes of parenting an infant. But others did wait, and I am so grateful that they did! One of my friends (who’s childless by choice) said to me, when I had my kids, “well, talk to you in a couple of years!” – I was pretty surprised, but later I saw she had a point – I wasn’t really back to my old conscious self for at least a year. But she was there when I did “return”, and I really appreciated her ability to wait. And when you do see her, try to focus on supporting her – she’ll need a lot of that for a while, whether or not she’s an independent sort of person. And if you need support in your life, it works to just put it out there and make a very clear (she’s fuzzy from sleep deprivation, so she may not get it if you’re more subtle) request for her attention, like “I really need some help with this issue – what do you think?” She’ll like it that you’re still seeing her as that kind of a friend resource, not just a mom-resource, which is what she’s doing all the time now. So hang in there – your friend will really be thankful if you don’t give up!
Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate your thoughts and comments.
I think some single women or women without children may not pursue friendships with mothers, but on the flip side, I’ve found that mothers of young children also put a purposeful distance between their childless friends and themselves. I’ve been in my current city for over three years and have made many casual friendships with moms. Some of them give off a vibethat I just wouldn’t understand their schedules, their values, priorities, etc because I don’t have kids yet. They would rather make friends with other moms – someone who they can share babysitting duties with and have playdates with. I’m married and plan to have kids soon, and part of me thinks it may be easier to make friends once I have kids because I’ll have more in common with other mothers than the single girls I’m friends with now, who are busy dating and staying out later than I do.
“Birds of a feather flock together.” This quote summarizes my observations. We naturally gravitate towards others with common interests and lifestyles. I don’t think it’s necessarily a hostility, more a lack of relating topics. Moms tend to talk about their kids a lot and their kids are their #1 priority. Women who are not mothers have other interests, and if they want children and it hasn’t happened they most likely don’t want to hear about it at length.
I had my first child at 21 so I’ve had plenty of non-mom friends. With them, through the years, I had a tendency to hold back on talking too much about my kids so I wouldn’t turn them off. As Laurie Lee just posted, do non-moms really want to hear non stop talk about someone else’s child when they can’t really relate all that well or even respond with their experience? Likely not. Anyway, I’m now 32 and nearly all of my friends have kids now or are about to. Our relationships are 10x stronger because we held on through the mom/non-mom years. They also ask me for advice knowing I’ve been doing this “mom” thing for a while. I feel I can talk to them about “poop” without grimaces on their faces. Mom’s have to admit, true mom-friendship bonding is when you can have a serious conversation about your child’s poop!
Hi, Katie here from yesterday’s comment. I find this discussion very interesting – like a few other commenters have noted, it’s not that I’m anti-mom friends, it’s just difficult to maintain that friendship with such a shift in priorities on one side. I definitely understand the concept of a new child dominating one’s life, especially at the beginning – at least from a theoretical standpoint – but I’m not sure how to navigate the resulting change in friendship time/activities/consistency. I think Jen’s comment about comparing it to married/nonmarried shifts is a good one, though kids do change the landscape even more. I tend to be a “suggester” when it comes to planning activities and I haven’t been able to get much input for scheduling baby-friendly times/events, so I’m winging it. I don’t want to lose friends to parenthood, but sometimes it does seem like I am not as desirable as a friend for the reasons that Anonymous mentioned.
I don’t want children, have never wanted kids (I have a hard time relating to the desire, honestly) and am not comfortable around children so that whole idea of hanging out with my friend and her kids isn’t something I’m really all that excited about. If I’m to be real honest, I have a hard time seeing myself relating well to moms and don’t look forward to the day when my friends start disappearing until kid obligations (because, let’s be honest, that’s the norm and that’s one reason why discussions like this come up!). Just as moms are still themselves after babies, I am still me after my friends have babies and don’t want to change my standards of friendship too much. I know it’s selfish and harsh, probably, but it’s how I feel about it.
I am honored to be mentioned in Rachel’s blog! The comments so far are much more positive than the one’s I had seen on previous mother topics.
I should mention, I am not yet a mother. I agree with all the commenters who acknowledged what a big change it is to have kids. I think having kids SHOULD change one’s priorities. (ie. clubbing and babies don’t tend mix well) Obviously, mothers need to make an effort to make time for their friendships, but they also have responsibilities as caregivers.
I think its great that Rachel has bonded with mom-of-twins Jill, and I am incredibly impressed that she has a good social life, because it would definitely be a challenge to balance. (seriously, I can only hope to have such amazing life-balance when I have kids)
However, I don’t think its fair to expect all mothers to have that social freedom. What about single mothers? What about mothers with tight finances? Or mothers with sick/very young/colicly children? These mothers still appreciate “adult time”, but may not be a position to drop off their kids at a daycare and go out for a cocktail.
I understand that it would be difficult to START friendships with new mothers, but I am thinking of already existing friendships. I think the friend without the children has the greater responsibility to be their for their mom friend.
I remember one previous blog comment (I can’t find it right now), where a mom felt that she could NEVER mention her kids and NEVER bring them along with her non-mom friends. That would be hiding a huge part of her life.
PS. I think it’d be cool to have Jill do a guest post as a follow up to this motherhood/friendship discussion!
Two things popped into my head when I read this (very nice and oh-so-smart) post, and they both have to do with intention.
I have friends with kids and friends without, and really enjoy hanging out with each. So here’s two stories:
Once I got invited to a “girls’ night” that ended up being meeting at a local restraunt for lunch (yes, lunch, even though they said girls’ night) and margaritas.When I got there I realized that not only did I only know about half the women, but I was the only one who didn’t have kids. Some had even brought their babies along. To a girls’ night. The babies sparked conversation between the moms, and the entire rest of the gathering was spent debating how long to nurse and whether or not it’s worth it to make your own baby food. I tried to engage people, especially those I didn’t know, in conversation, but they just politely answered my get to know you questions and went back to exclaiming over how cute little Johnny was when he burped. I felt like the lone guy in a group of women when the topic of abortion comes up; because my body had not, as of yet, produced a child I was subtly told I had no place to have an opinion and excluded in the conversation.
Fast forward to another girls’ night, just a few weeks ago. This was a bar-crawl, take an impromptu dance lesson in a hotel lobby, end up at a club and dance until you’re sober and can drive kind of girls’ night. Everyone there except my bff were childless, she has two kids whom I adore that are both well out of the toddler faze. We had a night of drinks, conversation, and great memories. And she talked about her kids. How could she not? She’s a mom, her kids are a major part of her life. But she also talked about other things, other things she was interested in, other things that made her HER, because a mom is what she is but it’s not all that she is.
So I feel that if there is a seemingly anti-mom sentiment among those of us who don’t have kids, it’s because all too often some women do become MOM and only mom when they have kids, leaving us with very little to relate to with them. I’ve heard “oh, you don’t really understand (life, marriage, faith, God, sacrifice, heartache, insert other life-experience here) until you have kids,” from all-MOM friends so many times, and it always stops any potential conversation cold. I love kids, but if mom’s want to keep their non-mom friends I feel like there has to be some intentional awareness on their part that 100% of our conversation can’t be about their kids.
On the flip side, those of us without kids have to be intentional as well if we want to keep our friendships after our friends have children. As I’ve said, I love kids. I’m a great friend to have if you have kids, because I’m usually happy to babysit, and I’m free because I’m not 15. Most of my firiends are great parents and have kids that are a joy to be around, and I totally don’t mind if most of our hand out time includes their children. But some of my friends have relationships with thier children that get in the way of our friendship. Some have no boundaries with their children, and I can’t even call them on the phone to check in because they end up having a ten minute conversation with their three-year-old while I’m on the line because they won’t tell her ‘no, I can’t right now, I’m on the phone.’ Others, to be perfectly honest, have spoiled their kids rotten, and they’re a nightmare to be around. Worse, they can’t understand why I won’t coddle their little darling as well and why I mind when she snatches food off of my plate when we’re out to lunch because “it’s just a sandwitch, why can’t she have it?” These are friends that it’s hard to stay friends with, but I’ve never been willing to let a long-standing friendship go just becasue of life change. So I have to work harder at it and be more intentional. Now when I call my friends up and I haven’t seen them without their kids for awhile (or when their kid is so awful I can’t stand who they are around them) I always start by saying “hey, if there a night your husband could wantch the kids so we can have some grown up time?” Or “can you and your man get a sitter for Saturday? We were thinking of going up to the city for the day.” I try to make a point of creating interactions for us where our friendship can still be the focus, and I balance it by offering to babysit for them on another night. Because if I didn’t, in some cases, the friendship would have waned a long time ago.
All in all, I think staying friends after kids goes both ways. Both parties have to try and understand that they might not have all the same things in common anymore, but they still have some things in common, and hold on to that common ground.
I had a big long comment, but read Christy’s and thought, “Dang – girl said it before I could.” She sums up my thoughts pretty well.
I’ve got the unnecessarily long comment thing on lockdown! 🙂
I’m not sure if I had some underlying hostility toward a friend I recently have chosen to not be friends with anymore. She is married and childless and I am married with two kids. Anyway, she was materialistic and fake and after a while I felt like she didn’t have anything else to talk about besides, what new purse or shoes she bought. Everything was about her. I found it annoying that she wore tiaras and threw herself her own birthday parties every year. (She’s now 37 and still does it). So, I decided I wanted to have more genuine, quality friendships. I tried to talk to her about deeper subjects, but figured out she didn’t want to. So I have moved on. Unfortunately, here is another problem. Her husband is great and my husband and him still get together occasionally. They both talk about how we should make up and be friends again so we can all go out together, but I really don’t want to. I honestly don’t have the energy to “fake it” if you will, and spend time with her. Should I suck it up for the guys or stand my ground and move on?
Tell the guys to get together themselves to do guy things.
a small point, but I throw myself birthday parties as well, and I don’t think that makes me less of a genuine, quality friend. I love celebrating birthdays and rather than asking a friend to take that on, I’d rather do the work of organizing and just ask for their company.
I don’t know anything more about your friend, so this is a generalization, but I do think that this is a common difference between those w/ & w/o kids: to parents, those of us without kids appear to focus on less-important things when it’s possible that before children, those things were important to parents, too.
Another spot on post! As a new mom who loves my babe, but wants to have friend time, I feel like I often get the cold shoulder from previous friends who don’t have kids and have expected me to transform into a person completely obsessed with my kid. Truth be told, they want to talk about him way more than I do.
This isn’t a bad thing either, but they attempt to bend over backward to fit my (new) lifestyle, and therefore I get excluded on invites to things like concerts, late parties, bars, movies, and all things that I can’t take my kid to. I’m still a very well rounded person who enjoys all those things (and DOESN’T GO TO BED AT 9!) and it frustrates me to find out about them a week or so later from people who had a good time. I might be late because of the kid’s bed time, but that doesn’t mean I wont show up!
And I’m so pleased you and Jillian are still good friends 🙂 She was my favourite of your friend dates. Does that make me weird? Hmmm
I have kids but I really value intentional friendship and connection. I do believe that is the difference. I did find that a lot of my friends wanted to ONLY talk about their babies after they were born (I had a HARD newborn, well, 10 months actually) and I wanted to focus on the rest of my life.
I got more and more frustrated and eventually we met for two months without kids, and then once with kids. And guess what? I didn’t go to the “with kids” events – I figured if I was going to be chasing kids I might as well do that at my own house LOL
Earlier, Rose stated ” I think the friend without the children has the greater responsibility to be their for their mom friend.” As a single woman without kids and uncomfortable around newborns/toddlers, I think it’s a lot to ask someone without children to be totally responsible for the friendship when a child enters the equation. How does your decision to have a child create a greater responsibility for me? I would love to hang out when I could, but should I have to sacrifice my comfort because you cannot be separated from your child? Do you really think your comfort trumps mine?
We ALL have priorities and I don’t think it’s fair to pin it on the friend without children to be “the suggester” (thanks Katie!) for hanging out. I may not be raising a tiny person, but I am busy: working on a promotion/job searching, tending to other family emergencies, dating (so that I too may get married one day), traveling, etc.
I can totally understand you needing to take time to get accustomed to the new life-style, but friendship is about reciprocity, right? It will dissolve naturally if there is none. If we can no longer relate to one another’s circumstances, then distance will be created. @ Laurie Lee summarized it perfectly with the quote.
@Rose…not all of us just want to go to clubs. I haven’t been in the club scene since my early 20s (I’m 31 now). I think people have weird expectations. For instance, my friends know that I’m not a kid person. Why I’m not could probably be traced back to my helping raise my toddler nieces when I was still a teenager (best birth control ever!!). Growing up, I knew a lot of the responsibilities that women with their first child are now experiencing. Yet they still expect me to be super involved in their baby’s life. I get so confused as to why they think I will perform a 180 all of a sudden. Sometimes I have a weekday off and I’ll propose lunch or even a trip to the zoo with the little one, but I can’t initiate contact ALL the time.
If you’re going to be a parent, then you should know that the first few months are going to be crazy. Personally, it’s okay if I don’t hear from you. I think the whole problem comes when some new mothers want to live life as if they aren’t moms. They want to gossip over brunch , yet they bring their child. They want you to come over and watch a chick flick, but have to check on the baby every. 2. minutes. My thing is…don’t force it.
Amen, on SO many levels, caribbeanapple!!! I think it’s precisely the opposite – the one who has the child should be more responsible for maintaining her own friendships – that way, no one is trying to guess about how much you can handle or how much sleep you’ve gotten and we, the childless friend (who still has just as busy a life!), won’t feel like we’re the only one who still cares about this friendship.
Hey, just wanted to respond. I didn’t choose my words well before. What I was trying to get at is that I think people need to cut very new moms (like recently had a baby) slack – understanding that they are overtired and overwhelmed. They may not be a very good friend when they are initially adjusting to motherhood. All I meant was the friendship doesn’t need to suffer (as much) if the other friend is ok to “pick up the friendship slack” and call more and come over more. I find young moms want the friendship, but struggle to have the free time/sanity to be their best friend self (at least in the first adjustment period). Certainly, I understand your point that its not fair to always be compromising, just because you have no kids.
I think in any friendship there are “trials” that test our bonds with people. For example: motherhood, a family death, divorce, financial crisis, depression, illness, etc. Personally, I remember which friends to me reached out to me in hard times (when i wasn’t at my best) and who waited until I was “fun again”. That’s more my point.
Rose, thanks for clearing that up. I do agree that new moms have a lot to handle and it all can be very overwhelming. However, I also agree with anonymous that the new mom should let us childless friends know what she can and cannot handle regarding the friendship. Believe me when I say it’s pressure on both sides when a newborn entires the picture.
Great point! A newborn is a trial, big time. You find out who your real friends are.
I think the balance everyone has been talking about is what’s key. I’m not sure it’s up to either side to be “more” responsible, but both sides need to acknowledge that priorities may not be the same. The mom in the relationship needs to acknowledge that there are things her friend might do that she doesn’t want to/can’t do because she has a baby, and the childless friend needs to acknowledge that the new mom is..well…a new mom. If that means scheduling around/with the child, then so be it. If the friendship is that important, I think the relationship will survive.
I think a lot of issues that happen to mom/non-mom has to do around assumptions in the same way it does married/single friends. A lot of people ASSUME married women want their husbands to be their bffs (which has been another controversial post) and we assume moms can only do “mom” things. I think it’s worth not blocking anyone out for either of the above. And if anything, it’s good practice to meet and spend time with people that are different from goin
In terms if existing friends – I think these sorts of changes hurt the most because we’re used to something that isn’t there anymore. For real friends, this should pass in my opinions. We all has lifetimes of changes ahead of us – kids or no kids.
It certainly changes things! The mommies all seem to hang out together like its a club, and us childless don’t understand. But it doesn’t have to if the mom of the friendship makes sure she makes time for her friends too and doesn’t make her kids the total focus of her life. There are things called babysitters. The other thing that really annoys me is how you can never have a normal conversation with them on the phone without them interrupting you to yell at the kids.
Um, yes. The phone thing. I would personally rather her say, “Can I call you back?” rather than interrupt me every 5 seconds.
This also tends to be a problem in person, when the kids are around while you’re hanging out. It is hard to keep a train of thought going when you’re interrupted by someone tugging on your friend’s leg all the time!
But I know that sounds kind of anti-mom, and that’s not my intention. It is frustrating, though. The solution to that is to take your pal OUT of the house (if she’s willing to be away from the kid for a few hours). If not, it’s a whole different set of problems…
I’m a mom, and I write and speak about moms for a living, so this debate caught my attention. It has a bit of a When Harry Met Sally vibe (“What I’m saying is, moms and non-moms can’t be friends because the baby part always gets in the way …”) I’m mostly joking here, but I do think there are parallels. The mom/non-mom gap can be a tough one to bridge, but it isn’t impossible. And, unlike the deal with men and women, I think it’s often a temporary gap. They key is acknowledging that things have changed, identifying some of the reasons they’ve changed — and figuring out some strategies for making the friendship work in a new way.
A couple of years ago, I conducted a nationwide survey of 1,000 working moms for my book Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, and nearly two-thirds of those women reported that their greatest impediment to juggling work and life was their own perfectionism. They were so busy trying to be the best at everything — the clash of the ideal parent and the ideal worker is a big issue for moms today — that they’d lost sight of their own priorities. They were stressed, running on this hamster wheel, trying to achieve an impossible Have-It-All ideal. Things like friendship were taking a huge hit. After all, they weren’t being bombarded by messages about what it takes to be a good friend — they were hearing about all the things they needed to do to be a Perfect Mom. In interviews, many of these women admitted that they didn’t have time to nurture their friendships, especially the ones with women who weren’t struggling to stay afloat in the exact same kind of boat.
Funny thing, though, is that most of these women softened as they waded further into motherhood. They shifted from “Never Enough” to “Good Enough” — and they circled back to their own priorities. Friendships had inevitably changed in the meantime, but often there was room to rekindle a dormant friendship and find a new kind of life for it.
Look, those early years are hard, and they’re hard on friendships. But acknowledging the changes will help both women navigate the shift. Start the conversation before the baby comes, and keep talking. Understanding the pressure a new mom is under goes a long way — and so does understanding the childless friend who feels left out and, frankly, wants to talk about something other than the number of diapers you changed that day. When my first child was born, my best friend from college temporarily took up the slack in our relationship since I was too exhausted to be as invested as I should have been. She’d pick up Thai and show up right around bedtime (just enough time to see my daughter before I put her to bed), and then we’d open up a bottle of wine and do the girl-talk thing. It wasn’t the same as before but, you know what? Few things in life stay the same way forever. Things change, and — when it’s worth it — we adapt.
Love you last sentence, its how mom/non-moms adapt…..Dealing with 2 BFF’s that are new moms.
Love your last sentence, its how mom/non-moms adapt…..Dealing with 2 BFF’s that are new moms.
In my experience, a true love connection (or serious girl crush) can overcome the new-mom scenario – if your new friend is a mom (new or old) and its not working, there’s a chance you’re just not that into her.
I am a mom, and I have mom friends and non-mom friends. But being a mom that works, I’m not willing to give up that much time at night or on the weekends for adults-only get-togethers. It’s hard enough to get an hour to myself to read, or watch TV with my husband. I think I do inadvertently create distance from my non-mom friends, just because I feel so bad that I usually cannot go out with them to happy hours, fancy restaurant brunches, or other last minute things. That said, my true friends have remained my true friends, and I make the extra effort with the really important girlfriends in my life, to stay up late to talk to them on the phone, or make sure I have a babysitter for a birthday event.
Where I feel a more tense divide is actually between working moms and stay-at-home moms. I worked part-time for a couple of years, and I wanted to find playdates for my daughter (and me!) on days that I was home. The stay-at-home moms in my neighborhood really wanted nothing to do with me. There’s even a listserv restricted to women who work 25 hours/week or less! Similarly, when I have time to socialize on the weekends, many of my stay-at-home moms are using that time to catch up on family time since they’ve been socializing all week.
Neither of these are issues with women I was friends with BEFORE we had kids, but making new friends in this arena is really challenging.
While I certainly respect that your work schedule leaves limited time for non-family/personal social time, your statement,”I’m not willing to give up that much time at night or on the weekends for adults-only get-togethers” seems to automatically create a friend barrier.
It basically comes down to effort. All friends have to be willing and able to make some effort to preserve and maintain a friendship. Like I told my very good friend/mom of 2, “I understand that our friendship may not always be 50/50 and I’m completely fine with initiating more of the effort, but I’m not willing to make 90 percent of it.”
totally agree with you, Mia.
I also work full-time…and really value my down-time but I do set aside a couple of nights per MONTH to get together with friends 🙂
I ageee with you Erica, and I’m in the same boat. I think some don’t recognize that the priorities have to switch, at least temporarily. Our problem is a lot of people we want to have adult-time with have 9-5 jobs or family in town. We don’t. And when our kids were younger, we couldn’t FIND a decent sitter. I’m not being “lazy” when I don’t reciprocate as others want, which seems to be implied. I’m trying to get through my day!
Thanks, Heather. I’m not trying to make excuses, and I do make time for friends, but it has become a more select number, and often those who have some patience for spending time with me when my kids are around. And until a babysitter has stood you up, or you realize that the cost of going to a movie PLUS babysitter is $60 (not including time for a meal or drink after!), it’s hard to understand how much effort can go into just getting a single night out! I do think it will improve as they get older.
I’m glad you pointed that out, Erica — the babysitting is a big issue. I confronted this when I first became a mom. Although I had a really close friend who made the time to stop by with Thai, I also felt judgment from others that I didn’t have my “priorities straight” or that my difficulty making time stemmed from an unwillingness to place an emphasis on friendships. I had to operate within the realities of my life and, the truth was, it was really, really hard to maintain the same sort of social life I’d had before — especially with multiple friends. My husband was working very long hours as an attorney at that point, and he was rarely home in the evenings. Add to that: my firstborn has some special needs and, though they weren’t yet diagnosed when she was a baby, I did know this: a teen babysitter wasn’t going to cut it. I needed someone more experienced — so my pool of sitters was fairly small. And most cost $12/hour, meaning an evening out could easily cost $60 in babysitting alone.
So, the sad truth was, although I *did* make time to go out, it wasn’t logistically or financially feasible to make it happen regularly, at least not in those early years. And non-mom friends didn’t always understand (or appreciate) how very much it took to arrange an evening out. Sometimes they even expressed dismay that I had found the time to socialize with my neighbors — but I hadn’t needed a babysitter to do that!
But, all this said, I go back to what I wrote earlier: This is all part of adapting to a new situation. Mutual understanding (or, at least, acknowledgment) of how each of us felt made a big difference. I think it also helps to understand the unique realities of each person’s life and to adjust accordingly. I had a non-mom friend who was going through a tough time when I was a new mom, and I made sure I did what I needed to do to be there for her — even shelling out the $60 in babysitting to hang with her when she needed it. In turn, she acknowledged how difficult it was for me to navigate these evenings by myself with a baby. We made it work.
Exactly. What I read here from many childless posters is “What about me? Me? Me?”. And the first thing you learn as a mom is that it’s no longer about YOU. I have kept many friends from our before-kid times, and I miss the “old days” of being a friend without encumbrances, but those friends (and family) who couldn’t recognize the new logistics of my life were not people I decided to spend precious energy (or sitter money) on. It reminds me of the friends you have in college who want to party all weekend and can’t understand why you need to be home early because you have to go to your full-time job now.
And THIS is why there might be a hint of an anti-mom sentiment out there. Comparing the childless (some of us who are not so by choice) to college kids who just want to party is really offensive. Wow.
Also, the attitude of moms knowing more/are better than those that have not have the privilege of learning all about life from their offspring is quite the turn-off!
That’s not what I meant. I’m talking more about life transitions — when things start shifting for a large group of people at the same time in an age bracket, and suddenly not everyone’s priorities are lining up in the same way. Has nothing to do with whether you want to have kids or not. Let me tell you, I am the first person to tell you how much parenthood sucks a lot of the time. The arrival of my children took away my “it’s about me” not in some transcendent way, but in the whole, “You’ll never have self-agency again, Sucker!”. So, just as you hate the feeling that moms are judging you for not having kids, I hate feeling judged as one of “those” moms when I am mourning the loss of a period in my life where I had the freedom to devote to friendshipabove all else.
Interesting how your “not about me anymore” comment is so much about you, though – and how YOU don’t like to be judged with but a fleeting glance at how much your judgments may have hurt others (which I would think you would understand, if you are indeed mourning so). If you don’t want to be one of “those” moms, maybe don’t say things like “look at this lesson I’ve learned that YOU all should learn, too” giving the impression that the only way to learn said lessons is through having children.
Anonymous, since I did not say ALL childless people, and certainly did not single out childless-not-by-choice, I’m sorry to have offended you in such a particular way with my sharing of my own experience.
I agree Erica (and Heather), and I find the same issues. Even further is Heather’s point about mom friends who have family in town vs those who don’t. When you don’t have good sitter options, it makes it even harder. I find that long time friends (single, married, kids or no kids) understand that priority shift & work around it, But, when meeting new people, they are less likely to want to be friendly if you’re not in a similar situation.
I had a lot of friends who had children in their early twenties. I definitely felt left out at times from those relationships. I didn’t have a lot in common, I was very focused on working 60 hour weeks to build up my reputation and career and was still partying like a 20 year old. I was very “me” focused, and my friends seemed to be more “child” focused than “self” focused. Don’t get me wrong, I love their children.
However, I have found that now that I am in my 30s and my second group of friends are starting to have their babies, they are much more apt to leave baby home with dad and have a girls night, they still focus on their “self” and who they are outside of being a “mom”. They have led me to really better understand that it’s ok to still be “me” and a “mom”, and that I can still exist…which was something I have been scared of.
I’m attributing it to age, but am open to other suggestions (like income, etc).
I never had the desire to be a mom, but I do have great friends who are moms and the friendship works wonderfully because it’s about quality time, not quantity time.
I also think my friends’ kids are great. I love to see them and it’s an added bonus/asset to the friendship.
I never imagined so many comments on this topic. My oldest (or longest) BFF had her 1st child when we were almost 21 and she shared him with me. She had 2 more when most of my married friends started having children. I never wanted to get married when I was young.
The dynamic changed our friendships, but not necessarily in a bad way. Good relationships lasted through their; colic, sleepless nights, family vacations with other MWC friends and on my side: career ups and downs, affairs, 6 years of trying to become pregnant as a single woman, then finally marriage at age 50.
Like the saying goes, “The cream rises to the top.” Most of my BFFs attended my wedding and showed photos of their grandchildren.
I love that you enjoy bath time at your friend’s. There has to be give and take and lots depends on how patient and considerate a friend you are.
It works both ways.
It is so much easier to give up, but sometimes a TIME OUT for a year or two is just the right thing to keep the spark going in the friendship.
I just picked up your book from Barnes and Noble, so I’m still reading through it, but a major recurring thought I have from the book and your blog is “man this girl gets a lot of pedicures!” lol
Which is funny, because while I use the pedicure bit a lot, I don’t actually get them very often! (As evidenced by heinous toes at this moment)
Rachel, I need one too. I would love to go with you!!!
You mean I don’t have to pay for expert advice like this anymore?!
just picked up your book from Barnes and Noble, so I’m still reading through it, but a major recurring thought I have from the book and your blog is “man this girl gets a lot of pedicures!” lol
Rachel, I see my comment (posted from home laptop) isn’t here – will you check your spam folder for me please? (and you can delete this one!)
I read your book b/c we moved to Chicago 4 years ago and neither my husband nor I has found a group of local friends to replace the ones left behind in LA. And the biggest reason is our kids. We had one when we moved here and another just after, and since my husband works long hours and I’ve returned to work, there’s no time to add in the work of friend-finding. I’m told we’ll make friends when the kids are in school, but frankly, a majority of the “mom friends” I met through play groups, etc. just weren’t my “speed.” I have a few women I really enjoy spending time with, but I haven’t got time for much and sitters are expensive! Plus, if I’m not working, I feel like my husband and kids should get my time. Also – I used to have a ton of guy friends, and that doesn’t seem to work the same way out here. So I’m saying — establishing new friends in a new city is extra-hard when you’ve got kids. (PS – also an NU grad!)
I love this topic and its one that has truly impacted my friendships. I’m married without kids; however a majority of my friends are married with kids. Within the group of friends with kids are my long distance (LD) BFFs and my local gal pals. The LD BFF friendships have survived even with kids. We chat on the phone (even if it means the kiddos interrupt the conversation), we visit one another (staying with the LD BFF’s family – including kids, or LD BFF comes to visit without the kids – usually for a much needed break), we email, text, etc. With my local gal pals it’s a different story. I’ve slowly felt squeezed out. I’ve let my “friends” know on many occasions that I love kids and I don’t mind hanging out with the kids in-tow. However, this hasn’t seemed to make a difference. I find myself reaching out with calls, emails, FB posts, but to no avail. I know some of these mom friends go out because I see posts on FB (and it’s usually an evening out with other mom friends). I don’t understand why these mom “friends” are excluding me. I agree – I don’t know what its like to be a mom – but I do know what its like to be a good friend. Good friends don’t excluded people based on your situation (married, married with kids, single, single with kids, single with a career, married with a career, married with kids and a career, etc.). If a friendship is important to you, then you make an effort and all those other little things should not matter. Diversity is what makes life interesting – we should be celebrating differences and the beauty it brings into our lives.
I agree with you Kris!
I have a mom friend who complains about other friends so much and says to me, “That’s why I like hanging out with you, you’re not like that.” However, I don’t see her half as much as she sees her other friends that do have children.
I guess it’s a secret community I’ll never understand. Nor do I want to, because I’d always want to be a better friend than that.
Wow, I made it into your blog post! My excitement is dampened by my embarrassment at my spelling error–did I really use “their” for “there”?? 🙂
I also realize my comment sounds kind of…antagonistic & I wanted to clarify a bit, especially after reading all the comments on this post!
When I mentioned an “anti-mom” attitude, I was referring to what I see as a pretty widespread assumption–based on comments I’ve read & things I’ve overheard from my child-less friends(again not anything that you’ve ever said on this blog Rachel)–that because a woman has reproduced, she suddenly a) only wants to talk about her children b) only wants to hang out with others that have children and (this one I’ve read in comments here) c) expects her child-less friends to bend over backwards to accommodate HER schedule/restrictions.
Like your friend Jillian, I consider friendship a priority, so if I truly value a current friendship or really feel the potential in a new friendship, I will make the effort to suggest & attend get-togethers…usually WITHOUT my children in tow, because its just more fun that way 🙂 As a full-time working mother, yes, I WANT to spend a majority of my weekends/evenings with my family, but certainly not every minute! That still allows for a few days/nights a month that I can & do spend socializing with friends.
I didn’t have children until my 30s—I know there are many other responsibilities and commitments in life other than motherhood. Not for one second do I think my friends without children should be able to easily change plans or drop everything when I have a free moment. Some of the experiences other readers have related here make me cringe—letting your kid interrupt you umpteen times on a phone call? suggesting that someone’s opinion doesn’t matter because they don’t have children? expecting your friend to always visit you at your house & hang with your kids? Who ARE these people, giving mothers a bad name?!
Yes, I may have to flake off sometimes for a sick kid or a sleepless night (especially now when they are so young & unpredictable), but I give my child-less friends the same leeway. Occasionally I have brought my infant along—usually something like shopping with him in a carrier, or once to a fair-type event that was intended for families. But I also make sure there is kid-free time, and I would certainly not bring my verbal & active toddler or older child along—there would be ZERO chance of true conversation with my friend in that case!
I think this is a sore spot for me because I feel that its hard enough to meet someone that I click with without worrying about being written off because of my reproductive status!
So I’ll just leave it at this: Give moms a chance!!
Oh no! I clearly didn’t even notice the misspelling or I would have corrected it– and will now! Thanks for weighing in Ana!
Knowing that a mom can actually relate to a non-mom is *really* helpful (and the first time I’ve *ever* heard any mom do that!) – no one likes to be judged or told they’re a) not as important, b) not as smart as someone else simply because they don’t have the same life experience or c) expected to love children (especially theirs) as much as they do. *Their* lives may have changed as a result of producing offspring, but mine, as of yet, as not, and I’d like to be treated as the same person with the same hopes and desires for friendship. Not that I’m not willing to compromise or be lenient and perhaps initiate a bit more, but I’m not willing to change my value system and my personality because of someone else’s choices. You might say that a true friend wouldn’t expect you to do that, but that’s a lot easier hypothesized than actually experienced in the real world.
The reason that my relationships w/ my “mom” friends may have waned was not that they moved out to the burbs but they had a new set of priorities. It doesn’t seem like they place any importance on anything I have to say to them. It’s like, “I have a zillion things to do and my baby is not suckling and my nipples feel like they’re going to fall off and whatever you have to say could not be nearly as important as any of that.” It makes my life seem trivial in comparison and I’m sure that they feel like I can’t relate to their life either. It’s not exactly the type of friendship that one enjoys. Perhaps the reason that your friendship w/ Jillian works is that she still places an emphasis on your friendship and although you may come second, she doesn’t make you feel like that. Just a thought.
This conversation fascinates me. I am married and already had a son when I met my BFF. He’s an “easy” child, in that he enterains himself very easily and has a fabulous relationship with his Dad, so it was easy to leave them to have some guy time or my son was at school while I went out with my Bestie. She is married also, but by choice they have no children. She doesn’t even LIKE children. My son would come along occasionally, and he was like a 3rd wheel, bored, and always vying for my attention. We have had umteen conversations about our relationship as mom & not-mom. Then when I found out I was pregnant again last year, I honestly thought she would run. She didn’t. She said no matter what, she was committed to our friendship. I feel the same. When my baby was born, she immediately fell in love! Love! She was there for me through some post-partum depression, she came and did my laundry one day, she stopped by with donuts and just sat with me and the baby when I had a particularly trying day. I really couldn’t ask for more. She loves it when the baby comes to lunch with us. Now she’s getting a little older and it’s easier to leave her with Dad also for a couple hours. My husband is very supportive of my need for Bestie time. I also have a new circle of mom-friends I’ve been getting together with. She won’t come along when we get the kids together, and she doesn’t like all kid talk in a group, but she steps out of her comfort zone sometimes to go out with me in this group also. We disagree on discipline styles often (though not a mom, she is a cop who has seen and dealt with the worst of offenders) but she asks questions and we have a very open dialogue about what each other is feeling and there is nothing I can’t say to her and be afraid she’ll be offended, and vice versa. We always talk things out and help the other understand what they don’t experience. I feel so blessed to have her in my life, and will stretch myself to make time for her. But sometimes it just saddens me when she has things to do that I would love to do with her and I just can’t because of the baby. However it’s a short time period that I don’t want to miss a minute of, and soon I’ll be able to do those things with her again. I look forward to it! Great topic, Rachel!
“We disagree on discipline styles often (though not a mom, she is a cop who has seen and dealt with the worst of offenders)”
I LOVE it.
There is not an underlying hostility. I agree that it’s a priorities issue, but I put high on my list friendships and time away from my kid to be with other people.
I think the real issue is a lack of community and support that many parents feel these days – the very community and support that you seek. People are flung across the country, so that grandparents who would otherwise gladly watch the kiddo so mom and pal can go out are 500 miles away, leaving it to dad to stay home – in case there’s no money for a $15 an hour babysitter. I, too, would like for someone to drop everything to come over to watch my daughter when I say I want to go out with friends in a half hour. But just like your pals are over-scheduled with their lives, so, too, are the very people I turn to for babysitting so that I can see a friend.
We’re all in the community of women, no matter if we do or do not have children. These days, everyone is strapped for time. I try to picture us in the same quest for balanced life among people willing and able to share the journey with us.
Actually, from Heather and anonymous’ exchange, it seems like there IS an underlying sense of hostility.
I’m the last of my friends (or so it has felt, for years and years now) to become a mom. With some people, this has been a strain on the relationships, but mostly those relationships have survived intact. It’s been hard for me, though, to form new friendships with moms, since it seems so many women lose their identity outside of their kids when they bear children. They can’t find anything else to talk about, besides their kids. Which made me feel pretty left out — particularly because I wasn’t exactly childless by choice.
@Word Lily – I agree, well I find the women who lose their identity and only talk about kids particularly true among women who’ve been full-time moms for awhile. I’m a rookie mom who was at a table for lunch with all veteran moms. Although I respect they’re all able to make sacrifices to take care of their kids full-time, I felt that was all they talked about. I’m like, dude, there’s more to life outside your kids, you know, but what the heck do I know?
At the risk of sounding like one of those preachy “Moms with special knowledge” — wait ’til you and your good friends start having kids, and you don’t share child-rearing philosophies! Talk about awkward — do I scold the child throwing coasters around my living room if his mother/my BFF doesn’t? Can I still feel warm fuzzies about a woman who lets her five year-old curse in front of mine? Since when did she hate public school teachers so much?
Not hostility, just women having different priorities based on their different stages in life. (And maybe coming off as judgmental when people aren’t in the same stage.) In general, moms relate better to other moms with children of similar ages and non-moms relate better to other non-moms. I’m actually one of the first in my group to have kids so I still find it easy to be friends with my non-mom friends – I just go “lite” on the mommy talk. I’m finding it harder for me to make friends with moms in the ‘burbs. First of all, it’s the whole city/suburban dynamic. I’ve lived in NYC and Boston and many of the moms in the PA ‘burbs have never left the burbs so there’s differences there. Many moms my age and older already have 2+ kids so I can’t really relate to them yet. I’ve found it easier to find other rookie moms to relate to online than in person – like What to Expect forums and mommy blogs.
Because I was just blown off for the 2nd day in a row because of my friend’s son this topic is on my mind.
I got the “my son comes first” speech which is so not the issue. I know he comes first. Even though he’s 9 and is way too spoiled and I think I am very understanding when 90% of our time together is also spent with him.
The issue is that two days in a row I asked if my friend was free and available to do something and she was right up until I called her and asked so what time can we get together and suddenly she has to run errands and she has to do them right at the time we were supposed to get together. So I wait around until I’m told 4 hours later that her son just begged her to spend time with his friend so she just had to go. That’s just rude. It’s teaching her son that he just has to beg and guilt trip her and he gets what he wants and it’s ok if she hurts and blows off her friends. If it’d been a planned event for her son and his friend that is one thing but it wasn’t whereas we’d made plans to do something today, albeit just me going to their house, and I got screwed over so her son’s whim could be catered to. Again.
I have tried to be understanding. But in the last 2 months I have initiated 99% of all communication. We have gotten together twice and only one of those times was sans kid. That is so beyond an even and balanced friendship it’s not even funny.
I think that there IS hostility–on both sides–anywhere there is insecurity. When non-moms are feeling the “mom-pressure”, from family or society (if not moms by choice) or from their own strong desire to be moms (if suffering from infertility), then anxiety, self-doubt, and sadness can come in between potential-BFFs. Or even just potential-Fs, frankly. As a young mom, I’ve felt ostracized by all of the groups I’ve yet been in: older, career-first moms; unmarried friends; friends and family with infertility; and my grad-school I’m-never-ever-going-to-have-kids-but-I-feel-judged-by-everyone-and,-by-default,-you colleagues. The other moms I see at mom’s groups at my church don’t really click with me because I’m in grad school, so I’m not stay-at-home full-time mom and I can’t make co-worker friends, either. I understand why–we just don’t have as much in common, and they (on both sides) often feel judged or somehow inadequate simply because I have made different choices. I can’t talk about classes with moms-groupies and I can’t talk about kids at school, and I guess I’m really searching for somebody who will embrace both sides of my life. Plus, I am torn in so many directions that I rarely have time to hang out with either side, or can’t bring my kids to whatever’s scheduled, so I’m missing out on the sheer face-time that’s necessary to develop relationships. So, there’s probably some unwilling hostility (or anxiety, let’s say) but mostly there’s just the awkwardness of differences and circumstances.
On the issue of “all my mom friends want to do is talk about kids” thing — ESPECIALLY with stay-at-home moms — what I have to say is this: Stay at home moms are, by and large, CONSUMED in every waking moment with taking care of every little inhale and exhale of their kids. This is necessary (by and large — I’m not advocating helicopter parenting here); how else do you expect tiny little helpless human beings to grow up into big, self-sufficient ones (or even stay alive)? SO, your boring one-horse-conversation SAHM (which is true–I’ve done it and dealt with it) is just pouring out her incredibly trying, mindless rush of menial activity at you because that’s what she’s been doing 24-7. I get it–if you enjoyed that sort of thing, you’d get your own kid, right? Well, if that’s how you feel at the end of the day and forever, just jump the BFF ship. Seriously. Don’t waste both of your time and emotional drama by clinging to a relationship that you want to be something other than it is. But if you want to make the relationship a priority, try this: next time she corners you with another boring diaper-saga, ignore the actual words and translate it into boy-drama or work-drama — instead of the 11th time she got puked on that day, think of it as the 11th time a customer called to chew her out, or her co-worker made her look bad in front of the boss, or something.
I understand that baby-talk is boring if you don’t have babies (or just depressing if you can’t have them), but if you want to keep your friendship going you need to figure out how to let her vent at you. Let her cry on your shoulder a little — that’s what that is. And if she does that constantly, and you patiently and sympathetically talk with her about it but you’re getting to the end of your rope, tell her that. Don’t let it be a one-sided relationship. Let her know that you feel that you’ve been doing alot of baby-talk lately and you’d rather talk about xyz — that’s totally legit. But do it BEFORE you get so pissed about it that you can’t do it in a way that respects your friendship. Tease her about it even — getting people to laugh at themselves is ridiculously effective. She probably knows that she tries your patience and feels guilty, but may not know what else to talk about or may not even realize she’s dominating conversation. Some people are like that, and they just need a friendly nudge to check back in on the relationship dynamic. And think about how many hours a day she spends with very small, probably pre-verbal beings…. Would you be able to flaunt your mad conversational skills after being in a cave with only bats to talk to? Seen the movie “Cast Away?” Take pity on our complete inability to be interesting some days. Seriously — she doesn’t think you’re not a totally awesome, valuable human being, she just can’t stop talking!
I’m sorry for the novella here, but this stuff has basically constantly been on my mind for 3 years now. I think it’s all a crazy, big problem–every, everyone is lonely and probably alienating others by default and by accident–but I haven’t figured out how to solve it for myself yet. I really do think everyone basically has a good heart about it, though, but life is just crazy hard. And being in different “states” of life just makes it harder. For those BFFs who are able to make it through thick and thin, though, more power to you! For myself, I’ll keep holding out hope.
Wow, you are wise! If you lived near me, I’d certainly enjoy hanging with you. Your experience of not quite fitting in with any past friend groups or present other mom groups is remarkably similar to mine. My chronological circumstances are different – it sounds like you’re a younger mom in grad school with few other grad school friends being parents, and I was an older grad school student and am now an “older” mom – , the feeling of being slightly emotionally isolated from past friends and potential friends resonates. How old are your kids? Do you live in a college town now? What I found is that when my kids entered school, I found other moms with more in common with me. It helped that where we live – Ann Arbor, Michigan – has a progressive open education magnet school which attracts kids of professors and grad students and other university employees. So if your kids aren’t yet in school, maybe once they start, you’ll have the chance to interact with moms who have more in common with you. Also, when I was in grad school, my friends with kids would often live in university family housing – if you have something similar at your university, you might find ads for moms’ groups there. Anyway, good luck, and I really enjoy the compassionate and practical way you wrote about this dilemma!
Reblogged this on thomaspenick and commented:
I enjoyed perusing your blog.
I have 7 sites on the Google YouTube network, dadhiltonmps is my channel name. I have bookmarked your site and I will return in a week to comment upon some of the blogs that have piqued my interest.
This one, the Anti-Mom sentiment, is one of them.
Thomas Marshall Penick
CANDIDATE Los Angeles City Council District 13 HOLLYWOOD
I have a couple of girlfriends now who have little ones. Two of them are very different and it has impacted our friendship differently.
One: if anything, we are even closer. I LOVE her little girl (she was the flower girl at my wedding) and I love spending time with both of them (even if she is acting up). She’s a great mom and it’s made me respect and love her even more for it. I’m happy to hang out with her and her kid when all of her other friends blow her off because she can’t go out to the bars. We go out to eat, go shopping, etc, all with the little one in tow. It’s great!
The other: it’s almost as if her child has become an excuse to NOT do anything. She wasn’t able to attend any of my before-wedding showers or events, or any other events since I’ve invited her too. I’ve always told her that her son is more than welcome to come, it’s no problem (other people with kids will be there) but nonetheless, she’s ready to decline before she even knows the details. I understand if she’s weary, but he’s a toddler now, and she’s not going to have any friends eventually unless she puts for just a little effort.
I love this discussion, but I’m surprised only one person mentioned the impact adult friendships have on children. I did not grow up with parents who spent a lot of time socializing with friends, and having few examples of how friendships happen in the real world, it became very difficult for me to learn how to make and mantain friendships. This has impacted every aspect of my adult life and makes me concerned about my ability to teach kids how to deal with friendships. I ask this question with total sincerity and without judgement since I don’t have kids yet and someday hope to, “How can you expect to teach your kids to be a good friend when they aren’t a regular part of your life?
I am a mom- and was a “young” mother- My oldest is now 12- I also have a 4 year old, a 3 year old and one on the way =) I am finding it difficult right now- as I am 34 – and have several friend who are a few years older- who don’t have children and they post on Facebook every night about going to dinner with younger “no kids/no family” friends drinking and traveling etc. While I’m glad they are having fun- the older I get the more I am finding it a challenge to relate to their lifestyle. It’s the complete opposite of mine.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind going out for a drink (obviously NOT when pregnant- i just get something without alcohol lol) but once every 2 weeks or so.
Because of our large family- and work schedules- and money- we don’t have the option to have babysitters most times and it’s very rare that all three children are gone for the night. The twice a year that happens- we end up just spending time alone at home relaxing. LOL
Is it normal to feel this way? Some of my non-parent friends think that I am just jealous- I don’t think I am jealous- I did my fair share of partying and drinking when I was in my 20’s- now I feel like it’s been time to grow up-
With children you learn real quick that the novelty of staying up all night drinking- only to wake up at 8am with kids- wares off REAL quick. LOL
The older we get- and the longer they go without kids and the longer I am a mother- I feel like our common grounds are just hair strings now- there are no big driving factors in our lives that are common goals- you know?
Why dont married couples with kids discuss and make a plan to maintain their friends? e.g. one night each month the husband stays home with the baby and the following month the wife stays home, so each can enjoy one night out every other month with friends.
Seems to be a matter of making it a priorty and making plans
I won’t mince my words when I say this:
When I was childless I thought mothers were boring.
As a mother I know I’m boring to childless people. There is no sugar coating this cold hard fact.
This is especially true in the early years when you quit social drinking and smoking, can’t do late nights, and if you can find the time to do a late night you are too tired to do them. Also hobbies take a plunge to the bottom of the list of priorities so about 85 percent of your conversation ammunition is about babies. Especially if you are the stay at home parent.
I’m not saying non-kid women and moms can’t be friends, but it is significantly harder to form and maintain that type of friendship.
Yep I definitely agree with this article. Although my friends are great the small town I live in has this mentality sadly with quite a few women local in town behaving this way as queen bees.
As a non-mum and told by other local mum why not join the mums group to get to know people (as most in town are mothers, very few singles and non-mums) I was told that I was not allowed to join a Facebook page until I was a mum as the current mums wouldn’t like this and would threaten to leave the group!! Eek! I must have a disease!! God forbid I am unable to have kids or had suffered a miscarriage talk about rude!!
Would have thought a mother’s group would be an awesome place to get pre-pregnancy tips and discuss issues on pregnancy and difficulty trying for a baby!!
Some people think obviously they can rule the roost without actually knowing the harm and damage they cause. Awesome for people like myself struggling to fall pregnant! Makes me not want to join the group if I am blessed to actually have a child!!
I am a 43 year old woman. Childless but not by choice. I have a wide mix of friends….single, married, with kids, without. For me what it comes down to is the person….if they are secure and happy with their life, they easily accept others lives without trying to make you feel good or bad about what yours looks like. If they are not happy, they try to make themselves feel better by cutting yours down. It takes 10 seconds to send a text once a week just to say hi….no person is that busy! I have friends I will happily tag along to a kids hockey game with because that friend is interested in me as a person, can still talk about life outside family, involves me in their life, and as a result I am genuinely interested in their kids. It voluntarily take the kids out for an afternoon or book my friend a surprise pedicure. I have other friends who I was there through their ups and downs of dating, planned the staggettes and spent hundreds on the wedding….celebrated their pregnancy and birth….then was cut out of the picture. Not worthy of an invite to a first birthday or a photo at Christmas because suddenly family and friends with kids are there….but they weren’t the ones there for the years leading up to it. Being told that “I’m sooooo glad I don’t have to date anymore….you realize what is REALLY important in life when you have a child”. Then this same mother asks you to babysit so she and her hubby can have a date night!! I have had many friends disappear for years then come back after a divorce realizing they let their oldest friends go. Basically it comes down to the golden rule….treat others how you want to be treated. Realize every person is fighting some kind of battle. Be kind and be interested in each other’s lives even if it’s different than yours. No one got a manual on how to live the best life and no one gets a prize at the end of it.