I find myself hanging out more and more with my childfree friends, and less and less with my parent friends. Is this just due to my aversion to children in general? No. In fact, two of my friends who have toddlers have the best kids ever. They are super cute and well-behaved. My friend who has a newborn also has a great baby, who rarely cries and is pretty cute, as far as babies go.
But I do find that even though I have known many of my childfree friends for much less time than my parent friends, I connect with them more than I do with my parent friends. When I make plans with my parent friends, it’s either the zoo with the kids, or me going over to my friend’s house and spending time sitting on the couch and talking, while she’s holding and talking to her baby. While I do love to do those things (I have a zoo membership and go often, and I love talking and connecting with my friend), I need more entertainment and adult time in my life. When I make plans with my childfree friends, I find myself going out to dinner, having beers, going to sporting events, going to events in downtown Cleveland, and only being surrounded by adults.
It’s also partly due to the fact that my childfree friends are much more available than my parent friends. I may have to ask my parent friends 4 or 5 times (or more!) to hang out before they are able to lock down a day. But with my childfree friends, I often can wait until the last minute and still find someone to hang out with. I also feel less pressure with my childfree friends. I don’t have to feel obligated to gawk at every child I see, or even talk about why I am childfree, and if I want to talk about my childfreedom, I don’t have to try to justify my decision. While my parent friends know that I’m childfree and at least have an idea of my reasons, it still seems like they want to know more and I end up feeling like I’m justifying my life.
When I’m with my childfree friends, we talk very loudly about wildly inappropriate subjects like sex, transvestites, lingerie, one night stands, hot men, etc. It’s usually quite a bit more subdued with my parent friends, especially the ones who have older children who can repeat anything and everything that you say.
Plus, my parent friends no longer think it’s fun to discuss dating and sex, when my next kickball game is or what my new favorite beer is. And I doubt I would find those things all that amusing either if I had a child or two to take care of. Your children become your life, as they should. Suddenly you start discussing more interesting topics like your children’s bowel movements and how often they throw up – and yes, I see this on Facebook all the time, so don’t tell me it doesn’t happen!
My childfree friends have much less responsibility, can go out basically any time they want, can stay out as late as they want, have more expendable income, still enjoy discussing things like sex and beer and don’t make me feel just a tad boring because I lack a traditional “family.” Does this mean that my parent friends that I have known for a very long time will one day no longer be in my life? I suppose it’s possible, though the older their kids get, the easier maintaining the friendship will be. But I do often wonder if a parent and a non-parent can have as close of a friendship as two parents or two non-parents. Everyone is different and I have heard some non-parents say that their best friends are parents, but I’m not sure I feel the same way. I feel much more distant from my parent friends than I ever did before they had children. Their lives are so drastically different from mine and we have a hard time relating to one another. I really would be lost without my childfree friends. They get me out of the house and make me feel normal (as normal as I can be anyway!). While my parent friends have been there for me over the years, most (well, all now that I think about it) of the great memories I have of them, or the times when they really helped me through something awful, was before they had children.
I’m certainly not complaining about my parent friends, merely pointing out our differences. And I would argue that my parent friends feel the same way about me. I’m sure they would much rather hang out with their parent friends than with a childfree friend, and I don’t blame them. They can have play dates and talk about how adorable their children are for a whole day and not feel guilty about it. They can’t do that with me.
What does all of this mean for me and my parent friends? I guess only time will tell but I’ll bet it continues on the way it is, where I continue to grow closer to my childfree friends and a bit farther from my parent friends. However, I do believe that at least my few close parent friends will remain in my life forever, but the connection will never be as strong as it was before they had children.