When I first got pregnant, I realized I had no friends with babies. Now that I have a baby, I sometimes feel like the only people I spend time with are other parents. Some of these newer friends were inherited with my marriage to my hubby, who is one of the last of his friends to have kids, while others were hiding in the woodwork of my life until I got pregnant and began seeking them out (and was possibly sought out by them, as new parents, too!)
Most of my childless friends (a title that resembles an accusation, but is merely a matter of fact) have been wonderful about our new lifestyle with Baby. They come to visit, they call to say hi, and they even still invite me places (though I don’t say yes as much as I used to). But I would think that all new parents have those friends who mourn the loss of the friendship as it once was… and can’t accept the change. There are those who are disappointed when you say you’re bringing Baby to the restaurant for dinner. They don’t understand that (a) my baby is not a dog I can just leave at home, and (b) babysitters do not grow on trees, nor are they free. Yes, my baby may freak out at the restaurant… yes, she may make a mess. But for at least half the time, she will sit quietly eating her Cheerios, waiting for the next scrap of your dinner (yes, much like a dog). The sad efficiency of the situation is that this lack of acceptance of your baby into the friendship quickly answers any questions you may have had as to the shelf life of this relationship.
Don’t get me wrong – bringing my baby to a restaurant is not my faaayvorite way to spend an evening. Though I nurse in public, spend most of my time thinking about Monkey, and get angry when people don’t hold the door for me when I’m-pushing-a-stroller-for-heaven’s-sake-I’ve-got-a-baby-here!, I’m still fairly rational about the unappealing aspects to bringing Baby out on nicer social occasions. So we stay in, and try to invite people over, instead of heading out for a night on the town with Baby. (It’s hard to look nice going out anyway, when whatever necklaces or long earrings I put on will inevitably get yanked by the Monkey).
So we spend a lot of social time with our childful friends. Food gets thrown, crying ensues, and most of the conversation revolves around neighborhoods with good schools or what little Bobby has been eating, now that he’s got four whole teeth. It’s easy, it’s comfortable, and not a little bit messy.
But while I may say I have more in common with my childful friends, it’s my childless friends who are some of my oldest, closest, and dearest.
Okay, so here’s a slightly related anecdote: when I was unmarried, and some of my friends starting getting married, I noticed that they began hanging out almost exclusively with their married friends. I thought, “What am I, a loaf of bread? Just cuz I don’t have a ring on my finger makes me less appealing to hang out with?” I have a little more insight into their mentality now that I’m married too (the fact that there’s this need-to-have-date-nights-with-other-couples that you get infected with the day you say “I do”). But I don’t want to be the mother whose childless friends say, “What am I, a loaf of bread? Just cuz a baby didn’t inhabit my uterus makes me less appealing to hang out with?”
So here’s the deal – you forgive me for smelling like vomit and carrying around a 19lb crying ball of goofy smiles, and I’ll forgive you for getting a full 8 hrs of sleep and wearing whatever jewelry you want.