She is smart, funny, and beautiful. She teaches spin and yoga, loves cats and hiking, and has camped and backpacked at places that are currently on my bucket list. His hiking resume is impressive. He wants to climb the Via Ferrata in Telluride (which I’ve completed, twice) and knows the best places to camp in Moab. They are, in essence, our dream friends. They are the exact type of couple you would expect to meet at a champagne soiree on a Saturday afternoon.
The best part is, although these two are dating, they aren’t married and definitely don’t have kids.
I all but grab the girl’s phone out of her hand and add her to my Facebook friends list. We hug good-bye and make plans to host a yoga retreat together and arrange hypothetical back packing trips in the summer. After they depart the party, I tell my husband “we have to make a date to hang out with those two again!” We’d found a perfect couple match.
When I found out I was pregnant, almost three years ago, it was like getting a sorority acceptance letter. I had friends who were moms crawling out of the woodwork to offer me advice and shower me with gifts. From natural child birth pros and cons to placenta encapsulation, I was suddenly involved in a world that I previously didn’t know existed. Women I barely knew told me their birth stories and I felt a sense of gratitude and belonging. Yet, I also knew a shift had taken place. Through the magic of social media, I’d see some of my friends having dinners and happy hours without so much as extending an invite my way.
“No one wants to invite a pregnant woman to a bar,” my husband said.
“But I’m still fun,” I lamented, “and I love to eat!”
Being inducted into the mom world was amazing, but I also felt the trade-off was leaving my old world and friends behind.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends who have kids. To be able to have been pregnant with someone else, to have someone to watch my daughter at a moment’s notice, and to have someone to text about daycares and runny noses is amazing. I love the fact that my friends with kids don’t care if I flake out at the last minute or that I’m constantly running late. I enjoy knowing I can meet them at the park and if I forget snacks, sunscreen, a hat, toys, pull-ups or whatever, then they will have me covered. My daughter has an endless supply of birthday party invites and it’s fantastic we know people who own plastic cups and lawn toys when we visit.
Yet, there’s something fantastic about having friends who don’t have children. These are the people you can meet for a boozy lunch in the middle of the weekday when your child happens to be in school. Your friends without kids can do things on Sunday’s, like snow shoe hike in Winter Park, because they have no weekend agenda. Friends without kids can meet you for a random yoga class or a coffee date. Want to train for a marathon? Try the latest brunch venue or brewery? These are the types of friends you seek out and call upon. When I’m around my friends who don’t have children, there are no conversations about nursing or potty training. Friends without kids don’t require baby sitter’s to attend a concert and they can make dinner reservations for 9pm. When I want someone who can hike a 14er with me, celebrate my birthday with a happy hour or just enjoy a taco Tuesday I seek out my childless friends. These are the people who keep me sane and who indulge my selfish side.
Having a child moved me into a different social circle. Soon I became enamored with which pre-school is best and the benefits of cloth diapering. Having a child forced me to become selfless, but the consequence is that I also lost some of what made me uniquely Natalie. Someone who was more than just the mother of a bald little girl.
I also lost a few friends when I became pregnant. After having my child, aside from a few congratulatory texts and gifts I never saw them again.
So now, when I meet someone new, (bonus if it’s a couple with whom both my husband and I get along), who isn’t put off by me having a daughter, I’m elated. I am thrilled to be invited snow shoeing and hiking, to happy hours and dinners and vacations. Just because we have a child doesn’t mean my husband and I are dead. While we love our daughter dearly, we also enjoy dressing up to go out and drink champagne and eat dinners with foods whose names I can’t pronounce.
After all, I’m sure it is only a matter of time before everyone I know has children. In the meantime, I’ll be scouting out all those free spirits to add to my friends list.
Let’s do midweek brunch with mimosas, please. How have your friendships changed since having children?