Sunday, October 24, 2010

Potty Training, Peanut Allergies and Zhu-Zhu Pets

Do you miss your friends? If you're childfree and your friends are parents, I am guessing your answer is probably yes.

Being childfree bestows many advantages - we have more time, more money, more rest, happier marriages, more flexibility and spontanaeity, and more time to devote to the important relationships in our lives. The problem is that most people have kids, and losing a friend to parenthood can be akin to experiencing the death of a loved one for many of us.

I still see my best friend Sara on a regular basis - not as regular as before she became a mom, but I give her credit for being proactive about staying in touch and planning dates to get together with me. The problem is, Sara's identity has been supplanted by her kids' identities, which makes for not-so-interesting interactions between us. Here's a typical conversation between Sara and me:

Sara: So how's everything with you? What have you been up to?

Me: Well, I've had some issues at work to deal with. I had to "write up" 2 people last week, which is something I really hate doing. We're still trying to sell the house too which is getting really old. On the up side, we're going away on a fun camping trip this coming weekend. It'll be great to have some time out in nature. What's new with you?

Sara: Well, Michael had his first guitar lesson on Friday and he just loved it. We're taking the kids to Sesame Place next weekend for their birthdays. Oh and get this - I met with Michael's teacher last week and she told me he is getting perfect grades.

Me: Good for him!

Sara: Yeah, and oh - the kids were so cute on Sunday. My sister came over with her girls and you should have seen them playing together. Jason is finally learning to share his toys.

Me: So the boys have a lot going on, but what's new with you?

Sara: (has no reply)

Whenever I ask Sara what's new with her, or how she is doing, she immediately starts telling me how the kids are doing, what the kids are up to, what successes or failures the kids have experienced. She no longer has her own identity. Her entire life - every waking moment - is living for and through the kids. It's as though some soulless robot has taken possession of her and she doesn't exist anymore. It creeps me out.

We rarely talk about current events anymore because she doesn't have the time or interest to follow the news. We don't talk about work issues too much either. Correction - I talk about work issues and Sara nods her head, but we can't compare notes anymore because she's stay-at-home-mom. The only subject she can talk about is childrearing and honestly, it's so boring. I love Sara and I love her kids too. I like to know what they are up to, but endless pratter about potty training, peanut allergies and Zhu-Zhu pets gets old real quick.

Sara is like family to me, so I will endure the best I can but I am coming to terms with the fact that it's going to be several years before Sara's interests expand outward again out of her bubble and back into the world where the rest of us live.


charmed said...

I almost can't imagine my whole life revolving around someone else leaving me with no time for myself or my own interests. But I imagine it a little and it scares the hell out of me.

people keep asking me when I will be finished with school, if am almost done and I keep telling them no. that's because I work part time and only take two classes. If I take more than that i have no time for myself to do the things I really really enjoy or just to chill and veg out. I NEED that time, and you pretty much have to give up all of that till your kids are teenagers and there is just no way that's ever going to happen.

Unless I want to end up being committed.

Unknown said...

I miss my parent friends, too. Where we used to have so much in common and so many new and exciting things to chat about, now I only hear about kid stuff, and they don't seem to care about anything I want to talk about (politics, culture, books...).

And worse, every phone conversation we have gets interrupted by the kids.

Lately all I hear about it how rough the marriages are - primarily because the kids have taken over their lives and they "don't even know each other anymore". Sad.

Spectra said...

With all the attention most moms lavish on their kids these days, it's no wonder having kids puts so much strain on marriages. When your life revolves around the lives of little brats, it's hard to pay enough attention to your husband to make him feel like he's important to you. And on a side note--I've known several moms who have gotten ZhuZhu pets stuck in their hair. I'm not exactly sure how that happens, but it sounds painful.

LadyTyger said...

I have a friend on Facebook who has morphed into a completely different person after having children. When we used to go to the same school, she was married but hadn't had her two kids yet. She was funny, interesting and a really sweet person. And now... she is not the same person I used to be friends with. :(

flamencokitty said...

Zhu Zhu pets? I teach Pre-K and haven't heard of these. Are these some new fad from Japan, a la Pokemon or Tamagotchi?

Unknown said...

Oh, how cute. How adorable, and in a year's time, how neglected, and forgotten! Thousands will end up in thrift stores or worse, in landfills. :( I bet those things run on batteries, too...?

E said...

It's kind of hypocritical to say your friend only talks about other people if you want her to talk about other people in the news and work. What about that is coming from you? I don't have kids and I'm childfree by choice as well. I just think sometimes we don't notice we focus on others just as much as parents. We just didn't create these people.

CFVixen said...

I can definitely relate. I cannot tell you the number of friends I lost because of this. At least your friend is trying somewhat. Most of my friends fell off the face of the earth as soon as the they gave birth. And you're's almost like a death. Life as they knew it was completely over. And I cannot consider the new life they have to be much of a life.

Christy said...

Yes, yes, yes, and more YES.

"Her entire life - every waking moment - is living for and through the kids. It's as though some soulless robot has taken possession of her and she doesn't exist anymore. It creeps me out."

Woman, get out of my head! This phenomenon truly saddens me. Can you believe I had a recently childed friend tell me to give up on one of my dreams? I mean, she literally said that, and who says that? What I truly miss most, was when we talked about OUR DREAMS! I guess, she killed hers, and wants mine to be dead, too.

I don't know. I feel something a lot like contempt for somebody who can let anything, whether it be a job, kids, a cat or a dog, consume their personality so that they can talk of nothing else. It's a major red flag that says this person never had much of a sense of self or consciousness to begin with. Maybe it just wasn't apparent before.

E, when I ask my childed friends what they think about other people or things, it's because I like my friend's mind, the way it works, and I want to learn more about my friend's mind, and how they think, and learn from their opinions. I don't just want to talk about other people. I already know how their mind works when it concerns their kids. When they get stuck talking about only one thing, whatever it is, neither of us is learning or interacting with eachother very much any more.

Anonymous said...

Love this blog, keep up the great posts!
I agree it's hard to have a social life when all my friends keep having kids. I do have parent friends who work to find common ground with me, and it doesn't go unnoticed. Most people, when I ask them about their kids, go off forever on the topic and never return the favor and show interest in my life. Parents who are more aware of the people around them and manage to be interesting well-rounded people are friends that I appreciate and continue to cultivate relationships with.

Mali said...

Yes, friendships change. Although that's not the case with all friends - some manage to weave their children into their life, and still keep hold of their friends. Others suddenly have all these new friends - other mothers of the kids at school. They all do things together as families, and those of us without kids were quite obviously cast aside. It became particularly noticeable when we suffered pregnancy loss. No invitations to her children's birthday parties, despite the fact I NEVER forgot to give those kids their birthday or Christmas presents.

Recently my friend split from her husband. She said to me she thought that it was his behaviour that explained why I felt I had lost her. (She knew I felt this way, having read my blog). I was honest, and said no. But I don't think it really sunk in.

ChildfreeNYC said...

Agree that this is an awesome blog. I love that you don't come from a place of hate. When CF people refer to children with derrogatory words, it bothers me a little because not all children are "brats" or "spawn". They are what their parents have raised them to be.

More to the point of this particular post, though, I feel like you're describing me and my friends to a T. I miss them...I miss them being about themSELVES. I miss them having THEIR dreams and THEIR goals. Since many have small kids, I think they will eventually get back to that, but for now, it's just...sad. And I just don't relate on a few major levels, which keeps us at a bit of a distance.

That's why I started a recent meetup group:

It's not to replace my friends w/kids. But hopefully to supplement and make me feel more "normal" and connected to people interested in bettering themselves and, as CHRISTY said, their minds!!

Corrinne said...

My best friend since pre-school has been talking about possibly having kids soon. It is making me kind of sad, although I know she is the type to keep working and not stay at home. I hope she doesn't become a mombie!

And one line in this post, and I'm sure countless others, struck me. The part about child-free couples having more money. Granted, I'm still working my way through college so I don't make a heck of a lot. But I know people with kids who don't even work, yet they have way more than I do. They get free food, section 8 housing (one person I know pays $75 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment), free college, free child care, and free money. They bought a PS3 the second it was released. They have every gadget out there. Personally, I don't care if someone smokes pot, but if I'm paying for your stupid arse to get by, you don't need to be spending money on that. ARGH! If it wasn't for my awesome neighbors I wouldn't be online, they let me use their wi-fi.

I could go on all day long about this. Not to mention my sister in law who is just like this, and also gets something like 3 grand every tax return because she has a kid who my in laws take care of, not her. What?! Ok, sorry. Done ranting...

Anonymous said...

This is what I struggle with the most right now. My husband and I have no other couple friends with no babies or babies on the way.!?

Unknown said...

all my friends have kids.they can barely go anywhere without them.i either take it or leave it if i want to continue our friendship :(