Ladies, remember the friendships you had in high school and (if you didn’t marry young) into your early 20s? Remember how you could drop everything on short notice and meet your friends at the mall, restaurant, bar, etc.? Did you notice a change in your friendships after you or they married? As you get older, have you noticed continued changes as each of your friends married and even became parents – especially if each of those life events happened at different times?
These changes are difficult for many women on both sides of the coin. Women with children feel they are being avoided by their kid-free friends and often miss the freedom to drop everything and go do something with friends. Women with no kids don’t understand the stress and demands of being a parent and feel they aren’t important to their friends with kids anymore. Talking on the phone when there are kids awake and demanding your attention or fighting with each other is a major challenge. It’s a big reason I stopped calling people. What was once a 15 minute phone call turned out one of two ways: 1) a 5 minute phone call with an empty promise to call you back in 10 minutes, or 2) a 45 minute phone call full of “hold ons” while you sit and listen to your friend discipline or otherwise tend to their children’s various needs.
Forming new friendships with women who have matching priorities is just as difficult because everyone has commitments and time constraints. Phone calls when both women have the above scenario happening in the background are now pointless. Finding time to meet without the kids is next to impossible, and if possible may be at a nearby location for 30 minutes at best. Play dates are your best bet, but enjoy them while you can because sooner or later, one of you will be pregnant again. If the planets align just right, maybe you’ll be pregnant at the same time and the crisis will be avoided. This is rare (not trying to be a buzz kill – just keeping it real).
Picture this … You have multiple children and a friend with multiple children about the same ages as yours. You are done having children, and your friend has another baby several years after her last. Baby comes along, and you “ooo” and “aww” over the baby for a few months. Then the baby child becomes more demanding of your friend’s time. Perhaps you manage to keep your friendship alive until the baby child is old enough to start school. Then the child becomes involved in activities. Game over.
I’m not even going to venture into what happens to a friendship when your kid and your friend’s kid start dating. Girlfriends fantasize about this in high school. Stop it! It may turn out alright, but it may not – especially if your parenting styles differ in any way. That’s all I have to say about that.
This also applies to siblings with children. As much as you want to keep the family bond strong, having children makes that very tricky. Hopefully, there are no hard feelings and nothing taken personally. Trying to schedule family get-togethers around the kids’ activities and other personal or kid-related commitments is hard.
As you get older, your priorities, values, and opinions change. Sometimes it’s best to have friends who are really more like acquaintances – those you see in social gatherings from time to time. Fellowship time at church is a good example of this. You get to socialize and gab about light topics for a while and then focus on your marital and parental commitments the rest of the week.
I have one local friend who I am comfortable sharing a fair amount with, but there are still topics we don’t discuss (politics being one of them). I have two lifetime friends 850 miles away that, to this day, I could share anything with. I miss them just as much today as I did 13 years ago after moving away, and I think of them daily. They are truly lifetime friends who mean the world to me! They get me!
So hold on to any close friends you had before marriage and children, but understand that lifestyle changes will have an affect on your friendships. If they love you as much as you love them, your friendship will stand the test of time! Also, know that newer friendships you form along the road of life may last or they may be temporary. That’s OK. As long as you have some type of social outlet from time to time, that’s enough to get your gab on. Juicy gossip is usually not such a good idea anyway, but that’s for another post!