When I had my first son, most of my friends didn't have children. I was twenty-four, and only a few years out of college. My friends were building their careers, and I was a struggling single mom. Hanging out was scheduled for the rare times that my son was with family, and on the odd occasion that I had money for a babysitter. Most of the time, they hung out with both of us - I was a package deal. It is hard to talk about things that aren't kid related and/or kid friendly with your kid on your lap, threatening to poop or puke at any moment.
Fast forward nineteen years, a husband, and two more kids later. Many of my friends are becoming first time moms in their forties, not getting ready to become empty nesters in a few years. I can understand my friends' confusion or indifference when it came to talking about poop schedules all those years ago. I don't want to see a diaper - let alone talk about them over lunch. Babies are cute, but truth be told, they are a reminder that I still have a period and that I can't manage birth control, so that could be me if I'm not careful. We just aren't in the same place.
I find that I have a lot more in common with my friends without kids now that my kids are older, and I thank God for them.
Kids can consume your life - not just your time - your life. If you aren't careful, you will forget not only how to do the things that you love, but what those things actually are. I spent more time doing things that I didn't love since I became a mother, than doing things I did love. Don't get me wrong, I love my children and enjoy spending time with them. However, their activities became my activities. When a kid does ballet, you are a ballet mom. When a kid plays soccer, you are a soccer mom. I do not enjoy volunteering to wrangle other people's unruly kids backstage at recitals. I do not enjoy carting snacks out to other people's ungrateful kids who wanted chips, but you - you S.O.B. - you brought the granola bars and oranges that they said to bring in the email, and now they are rolling their eyes. I love watching the kids play sports and perform, but it doesn't end there.
These days I truly enjoy my friendships with friends who don't have kids. Any mom who is relatively sane, has a friend who either remembers who she was before kids and tries to remind her of her former self, or if she didn't know her friend before motherhood, she finds ways to bring out that pre-momma woman buried under the stretch marks and stress... maybe with wine.
This weekend I went out with a friend for brunch. We ate, laughed, and wandered around doing aspirational sight seeing until we happened upon three wineries within a couple miles of one another. We talked about the kids if she asked. I kept my answers brief because it is too easy to start talking about them and never stop. By the time we reached the third winery, it was time to eat, and they had a barbeque food truck. In chatting with one of the owners, I found out her family was from Dominica, and was offered the best (and first) smoked watermelon I had ever tasted.
The sun went down, the barbeque soaked up the alcohol, and my brain began the shift back to mothering. The mini-van had been waiting patiently for me all day in the brunch spot parking lot. I sat down and plugged in my phone, which had gone dead before I could snap a pic of my fried fish at winery number three. Turned it on to text, "on my way."
I had been myself for a whole day - breakfast to dinner. I can be myself with my kids, but it is a different self. It is a measured self that knows that whatever I do, say, or feed them could affect them for the rest of their lives. That is a lot of pressure on a person every day.
Treasure your friends who don't have kids. Don't get consumed by kids and forget that they are there. They are valuable, and they have a superpower that allows them to see you even when you can't see yourself.
What do your friends without kids mean to you? If you don't have kids, what is special about your relationship with friends who are parents?