Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Friends without Babies

I just read an article on another blog about the difficulty of maintaining friendships with people who don't have kids once you've had kids, yourself. The author seemed to think that her former friends thought that she was only interested in talking about babies, now that she has one. She insisted that she was still a whole person, and that she's still interested in all the things she was interested in before.

I think it's a lot simpler than that. It's purely a matter of scheduling.

Let's take my friend Amanda, for example. We've been friends for 13 years. But we don't talk half as often as we used to, now that I have kids. She is getting her Ph.D. at LSU, and she works full time, and she teaches, and she does about nine billion other things that I can't keep up with. Her days are jam packed with responsibilities, and she probably doesn't get home until 6 or 7 pm most nights. She's a time-zone behind me, too, so that's 7 or 8 pm my time.

Meanwhile, I'm home all day with the babies, thinking about her, but knowing that she's at work, or in class, or wherever. So, I think, "I really should call Amanda tonight!" and I make a mental note to do so.

Then "tonight" rolls around, and I have to get MG and BJ fed, so the whole dinner process lasts from about 6:30 until 8, by the time it's all cleaned up. Then BJ and MG go up for bath, and I either give Claire a bath, or play with her, or try to get her to sleep. We usually have both girls asleep by 9 or 9:30 (God willing) and assuming that we haven't fallen asleep ourselves in the process, we have about an hour or an hour and a half to spend time together, or watch TV, or work, or make phone calls, or whatever until it's time for us to go to bed, too. I have to admit that by that time of day, I'm usually so exhausted from chasing kids (and not sleeping well, ever) that making a phone call sounds like a lot of work. So I think, "I'll just call her tomorrow."

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Evenings, when non-parents are free, are the busiest, most hectic time of the day for parents. And on the weekends, all of us - parents and non-parents - are busy doing fun things, catching up with family, working around the house, and so on.

I have the same problem with Barb. It doesn't help that these two friends, in addition to working and being in school, live elsewhere. So, they can't just drop by to have dinner with us or anything.

But Shannyn, who has a little boy, is easy to keep up with because she's home during the day, too. Kids generally have similar schedules. They all like a nap around lunch time, and they all need to go to bed around 8 or 8:30 or so. Shannyn and I are on the same sort of schedule (even though she's a time-zone behind, too).

Working moms have the worst of both worlds - they're busy all day, and then they have the very brief, busy evenings to reconnect with their kids. I think it would be hardest for them to keep up with their friends (although they do, typically, have the advantage of having a lunch break in the middle of the day, but I'll bet most working moms use that time to run errands, not to have leisurely lunches with their girlfriends).

Bottom line - it's not that those of us who have had kids love our kidless friends any less than we did before. It's simply a matter of scheduling.

There are a few other issues that get in the way. Kidless friends may totally think that we're full of, well, crap when we say things like, "Oh my God, I just got pooped on, I have to go." (These words actually came out of my mouth, yesterday, and it was true). Kidless friends may not understand that babies and toddlers, generally, get really irritated if Mommy is on the phone for more than eleven seconds. Kidless friends may get annoyed when we Mommies are multitasking while we're supposed to be listening to them - making dinner, trying to keep the toddler from burning herself or painting the dog, answering the door, changing a diaper, and talking on the phone simultaneously. (I have read 13 books to MG while I've been writing this post - literally!) But those things aren't going to keep me from calling. The only thing stopping me, honestly, is scheduling. Maybe things will be better when my babies are bigger. Or maybe by then, you'll have babies too, and then we'll be on the same schedule again.


Melania said...

It's like seeing my thoughts and experiences, all laid out for me to read!!

Hope you don't mind if I share this with my kidless friends!

Jen said...

Yeah, this is right on. Although, as they get older it doesn't change...the issues just change. And they get friends who come over sans parents - which can be both good an bad. Good - free entertainment. Bad - breaking up fights/teasing/etc. You'll see. Once you have kids, you can never go back to life as it once was.
I'll call ya tomorrow... I'm just too exhausted tonight to do anything meaningful... :)

Anonymous said...

Just for the record...if you said..."Oh my God I just got pooped on" I would let you go. Promise. Hahaha I will have my turn soon enough! XOXO Barbara