In conversation, a friend of mine who has no children, and who has moved far away, said, “What I find is that a lot of girls I’d want to be friends with have kids and so they think that I wouldn’t want to hang out. For me, it’s a great time. I love kids and I’d rather hang out with a girl I like who has kids than someone who doesn’t have kids just because it’s easier.”
I loved hearing that from her. I also might write someone off initially due to us not being in the same life stage. Here is my answer…
I think it can be pretty hard for moms to know what topics they can connect to single people on… when 90+% of their daily conversation is with blabbering babies and 99% of their experiences include children. I’d love to talk about my work, and experiences from my BC(Before Children) days but instead feel like I’m trying to relive the glory days and have nothing current to discuss (that doesn’t somehow tie back to children)… and even if I did have some non-child related topic to discuss… it is hard to focus on any conversation when the tide of mommy-thoughts come back in, swirling about in foamy splashes… and the words that come out look & feel like fridge poetry. Even if the other person enjoys it, (and the mom too if she could quell the uneasy feeling that social anxiety is) it is hard for the mom to see and recognize that the interaction is legitimately sincere and appreciated.
You know how you, dear married without children friend, would just hang out with me while I ran errands back in the day? That would be WONDERFUL to have available now that I have children… I bet that the moms you would like to be friends with would see your offers of friendship as something sincere if you offered to help them cook dinner, or stay in the car with the kids while they run into a store or office… something that relieves the burden of stress weighing on their minds. And then, perhaps the fog that is your brain on motherhood would clear enough to see you as the person in front of them… but definitely follow through. I would much rather people pretend I have everything together and leave me alone than pretend to care, offer to help or visit and then never pursue the offering beyond lip value.
My friend responded;
“I hear what you’re saying. I think it is weird because your priorities can be so different when single, married with kids, and married without kids. My friend ‘Suzy’ is single and she always wants to go to concerts and sees my husband as a reminder of her singleness and also that I’m “less fun” if he’s around. As much as I want to be closer to her, it’s hard because she doesn’t understand that when you are married, you don’t just hang out with your spouse whenever.
I actually have offered to help do stuff with my mommy friends like you mentioned, but it’s usually not believed. There is one girl, though, who seems open to it. It’s funny because she’s younger than I am and has 3 kids. I think she sees my life as so charmed and hers as so nuts…and here I am wishing I could conceive. Go figure. I am definitely going to take her up on hanging out soon, though.”
Again, I totally understand… I had a difficult time processing the changes in priorities as my sisters would get married and have children. I, on the other hand, was globe-trotting and salsa dancing every weekend.
I loved hanging out with my friends but had an awkward transition from single, to dating, to married. Who then do we hang out with? I love my husband and I love my friends. I’d love for them to love each other. Then we added children into the mix. Finding one friend you really connect to is difficult enough. Finding a friend with a significant other who also makes a good friend for your spouse is harder. And then one with kids that also get along with your own? In a similar age bracket? No wonder people slowly pull away from relationships outside of their family! At a certain point, it is hard to believe that anyone else is truly interested in befriending not only you… but all 3,4,5… of you in your family. It is hard not to think that you would overwhelm and scare them away.
I encourage you, keep offering your friendship! Hang out with her children and let her clean something that is driving her insane, for weeks on end, making sure to insist that she doesn’t need to serve you as a visitor and give you her undivided attention. Sit in the car with the kiddos so she can run in and buy that make-up she needs/wants. Go to the doctor or dentist with her and help her manage the kids not being seen. Your friendship will instead be forged in peace and much thankfulness instead of being viewed as a cultural ritual offering of friendship. Maybe then, as Anne of Avonlea would say, you will find a kindred spirit, and a bosom buddy.