Why Parents Need Non-Parent Friends
A few weekends ago, we were invited to a friend’s birthday party and game night. Usually we are quick to decline such invitations as our sweet little boy has a daily expiration time of 7pm. On this particular weekend, however, my husband’s parents graciously agreed to keep C overnight so we could enjoy some child-free activities.
While I often think of how nice it would be to have a circle of full-time-working-mom friends who understand that nap time is not optional and brunch is the most useless meal (seriously, by 10 o’clock I have already eaten breakfast, had three snacks, and I am starting my second pot of coffee), I realized the other night just how much I love keeping up with my, as of right now, childless friends. Most of them have gotten married this past year so it is only a matter of time before some of them join the Dark side!
One perk of friends who have no babies is, the conversation revolves around something OTHER than babies. Yes, my non-parent friends enjoy hearing about my son, or at least they humor my husband and me when we do talk about him. They ask how he is doing, and act appropriately impressed when I say he can use sign language to ask for food. But, because they do not have child-stories of their own to share outside the occasional niece or nephew story, the conversation naturally drifts away from all things parenting.
Instead of spending the evening comparing our kids’ milestones or how well they are [not] eating, we can discuss more important things like wine bottles with talking pictures! Really, there is an app for that!
When there are no kids around, I do not have to watch my mouth. I will admit, sometimes I have the mouth of a crusty old sailor. At times, I think other moms are scared to speak to me in front of their children because they can never be sure what new phrase their child is going to learn from me. Once in a while, I feel guilty for letting a few choice words out in front of someone’s precious Snowflake, but then I remember that I am an adult, dammit, and I can say whatever I deem appropriate. Or, inappropriate but worth it at the time.
When I am with my non-mom friends, no one is frantically looking around for little ears to cover when I start speaking. Such a relief. And yes, I do speak this way in front of my own son, partly because he is too young to know the difference yet, and partly because I gave up way too much for that little tyke to give up cursing as well. He cannot take this from me!
Another benefit to being out with the non-parent crowd is, I can cut loose without feeling judged. When I am with other moms and I bring up how much I love wine or that one crazy night out I had, I can’t help but feel like they are judging my mom-ing. I mean, is it really appropriate for a mom to share stories of almost getting an open-container-ticket on the beach, on her birthday? Shouldn’t I have grown out that of phase by now? What would my son say if he was old enough to comprehend these things? Should I be ashamed? Somehow, these things just do not fit my idea of a quintessential mother, and feel like, since the birth of my son, I should pretend like I have only ever been an appropriately behaved mother.
All this runs through my head and I can only assume other moms are thinking similar things. And maybe no one is judging me at all, and I am only feeling self inflicted scrutiny. But I scrutinize myself much less when I am with a crowd that is not full of parents.
This is not to say that we have our friends BECAUSE they are not yet parents. Even once they have kids, we will still be friends. That is, once they outgrow the newborn-parent stage and can once again take showers and put on pants. But too many times, parents seem to lose connections with those who are in a different walk of life. Or, if they are anything like me, they suddenly feel like having a child means they have to fit some boxed idea of a parent, and they are supposed to have the most perfect tribe of boxed parents. It is only natural to drift towards people we have more in common with, but it is all too important to keep variety in our life! I do not want every date to be a play date.
I love the little group of friends that my husband and I have, and even though we still have to turn down 8pm trips to the brewery on a Thursday, I am so thankful for the once-in-a-while nights where we get to be child-free parents!