Keeping Friendships: A Guide to the Childless Friend

I swear I didn’t want to start 2012 being so, uhm, UNFRIENDLY, but experience taught me that if you don’t put it out there, people  WON’T be able to read your mind. I wrote the following post while my brain was foggy with sleep deprivation (and obviously aware that this must NOT be the case of other mums out there, who must have wonderfully understanding friends), so whoever reads this, keep one thing in mind: I’m really nice after a full night’s sleep.

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This is a post for the childless. Those of you out there who don’t yet have kids, but do have friends with young babies and toddlers, and for some strange reason or another decided to continue hanging out with them. Oh, don’t make that face: we all know that once your friends start having babies, and you’re not QUITE there yet, you freak out/get bored/get annoyed at their sudden – how can you explain? – OBSESSION with it. It’s all about the bloody babies, isn’t it? It’s just unbelievable how it suddenly takes over their WHOLE life, and you just can’t for the life of you understand WHY they’re always so tired? I mean, what the hell do you DO all day with a baby? Surely it’s not that difficult. And how DARE they leave the house WITHOUT MAKE-UP when they CLEARLY need it! I mean, those were some pretty serious dark circles under those eyes, my god. I’m SO never having kids.

Yeah. We know what you’re thinking. It’s almost like you want your parent friend to apologise for daring to become a parent and INFLICT that situation on you. Like Samantha in that Sex & The City episode, when she gets annoyed at having to share restaurant SPACE with a child (and then the kid throws pasta in her face, which I now find it really funny). Or that other one, when Carrie has her beloved Manolos stolen at a baby shower and then goes on a quest to prove that she is ENTITLED to receiving gifts for being single (pffff). Well, here are the news: as much as baby poo does not figure at the top of your priorities list for 2012, getting smashed after work every wednesday night is not the first of our concerns either.

In other words: We’re not THAT into each other. Not at the moment, anyway.

HOWEVER. If you have a history together, or you just won’t be able to avoid each other, most likely you will continue being friends regardless. SO, as the mum in the story, I’ve listed a few guidelines below for you, childless friend, to negotiate this rough path that it’s now your friendship with a recently reproductive person.

Or at least, to avoid having a dirty nappy being thrown at your face as revenge. No need to thank me.

1 – Don’t EVER, ever say “God, I’ve slept too much, I’m so tired now.”

The biggest sin EVER. EVER, EVER. Sleep deprivation is one of the uncool things that happen when you’re brand new into motherhood, and if you haven’t yet noticed, sleep deprived parents become irrational beings sometimes, and tend to turn into resentful creatures if their buttons are pushed. There’s a saying in Brazil that goes “don’t count money in front of the poor”, and that’s exactly what it feels like when you COMPLAIN about too much sleep.  So if you don’t want your friend to have criminal thoughts about you, better to just keep this one to yourself.

2 – Don’t say “I don’t know how you do it, hun”

Probably one of the most annoying sentences ever uttered in the history of motherhood. Just because there’s a chick-lit book (and now a film) similarly entitled, does not give you the right to say it to your friend when you see her having some sort of struggle. It’s CONDESCENDING and PATRONISING, for god’s sake. It sounds like “Yeah, your life is pretty shit right now, I’d never make the same choices. PHEW, I’m glad I’m not you.” Would you like if someone took a look at your sexless relationship/9-to-5 slave job/pitiful wardrobe and said the same thing? If we’re complaining about something, all we want to do is exactly that: to VENT. You can say  “It’s only temporary, darling, soon we’ll be laughing at this”, instead, and we’ll be BFFs.

3 – Don’t come for dinner/coffee/film and sit on the sofa waiting for things to materialise in front of you.

Let me tell you something: babies and toddlers KEEP THEIR MUMS BUSY. Constantly. From the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed (and most probably when they’re asleep too). I didn’t know it either, till I realised how the piles of laundry and dishes never seem to get smaller, much to the contrary.  So ANY help with ANYTHING is very much appreciated, specially if the job itself is to serve YOU. We definitely appreciate the company and the opportunity of having adult conversation, but we definitely don’t need an extra dependant. Get off your butt.

4- Always, ALWAYS offer to do the dishes. And DO INSIST if your friend says “don’t bother, I’ll do it later.”

Same reason as the one above. If we say we’ll do it later, that “later” word has a very elastic connotation: it could be days, weeks even, till your used coffee mug gets a proper scrub. And nothing makes a bad day WORSE than looking at a messy kitchen and not being able to FIX it.

5- Do offer to pick up / entertain the baby.

Even if you’re afraid of the little creature. One of the coolest things for us to see is a friend bonding with our child – specially as it means there will be an extra pair of arms to hold the baby while we can hold other things like a magazine, a tea cup and the iPhone. At the same time.

6 – Don’t rub it in. 

As is “Don’t tell me how much you can’t wait to spend three days in a Spa after shopping all day and spending the equivalent of two months rent in a pair of Louboutins, which you will be wearing tonight at that fabulous birthday bash at Shoreditch House, where you plan to get ridiculously drunk and that’s why you’re checking yourself in at the Spa afterwards because the hangover will be EPIC”.

Parenthood, as you must have noticed, is synonym to responsibility – in other words, less chances to be reckless (or a total imbecile, depends on how you look at it?). It’s fun, we get it, and we can’t wait to join in sometime in the future, but for now can we talk about something else?

To be honest, this is a rule I’d apply to anything. Bragging about stuff is never cool. In any situation. So stop it, will you?

7- But don’t pity us

EVER. If we became a parent, it is because WE CHOSE to do so (in most cases, i think). Mums OWN UP to their situation, even if they don’t like it much. I’m gonna sound completely condescending and patronising now, but this is something the childless will never understand (don’t you hate when parents say that?): because people with no children can always quit whatever it is they’re not enjoying, is makes them by default WEAKER than ANY mum in the world. We’re essentially STRONGER simply because we HAVE to be – so we definitely don’t give a s*** about pity looks.

7 – Don’t say “My child will never do that”

When you talk about the parenting skills of other mums you know, all we can think of is: OH THE INNOCENCE. Of course (s)he will do whatever it is you don’t like, and (s)he’ll probably do worse than that, making you eat your own words marvellously. It happens to ALL of us. Which is why WE parents can’t wait to see it happening. I’m joking, obviously. Or am I? Who knows. I’m sleep deprived, I don’t make much sense.

 

29 thoughts on “Keeping Friendships: A Guide to the Childless Friend”

  1. Controversial Post – but that’s how I love ’em! I have a friend who told me she couldn’t speak on the phone when I was in hospital as she was having a bath, too sore and tired from sex with new boyfriend. I had an episiotomy and a breech birth with no painkillers (nice surprise). I rolled my eyes a little bit….

    1. camilla, WOW! That’s another level of “rubbing it in” , uh?
      haha
      i love my friends, and I was once in their position, but I wish I was told all of this now, you know what I mean? I have a lot of apologising to do to my friends who became parents before I did…

  2. I really miss the time when I could strap Cisco to the buggy and get on with life…it does get worse! now that he is 6, he kind of rules my life, as he has his say… my life is the haggerston bmx track, whether I like it or not! Enjoy now!!!!!!

  3. probably the childless would want to write a post back in response. They probably would say; hey, we get tired too, we work and have stress you know and what DO you do all day with a small baby??! How hard can it be? they just sleep and eat, right?

    I dunno but I’m trying to remember how I felt before I had one and could not see what all the fuss was about….

    1. I was going to say in the post “Let the backlash begin”, because obviously there’s two sides to every point of view… Well, I’m totally open to it 🙂

      I remember being clueless like that with one of my best friends, actually…One day I got annoyed with her because on her first time in London, all she wanted to do was to go to children’s shops. When she spent £100 on a leather jacket for her boy, I was like “STOP buying kids stuff, what about YOU?” And she just smiled and said: “One day you’ll understand…”

      And I DO NOW.

      1. “one day you’ll understand?” ……yeah if your idiotic enough to NOT know how to use birth control? It is only inevitable if you don’t use protection (not too smart are you?) lol. I always make sure I’m safe so that I don’t have kids. Having kids is a waste of life and depresses you it seems. I’m glad I’m a woman with a career, party when I want, have my own car, make my own rules, live the life I want to live, my body is in good shape and it’s not stretched out from babies lol (no desire at all for kids), and I get to make new friends constantly, always going out, buying what I want for myself and my boyfriend. I’m very proud of myself for remaining childfree and having the knowledge to be safe enough to not get pregnant! I love this life, so why would I have kids????

  4. Yeah…
    I dont think it deserves a post back from the childless
    Oh the bitterness ! damn giiirl !

    congrats on the baby tho and my advice… get some new friends
    my best friends had 2 babies,am god mother to one, and our friendship changed and evolved into something brand new: different activities, conversations, and a new understanding…
    baby talk sure but also silly girl talks about isabel marant and our shared love for ombré hair. So really find more understanding friends ’cause i can tell u a new baby experience is even more amazing when shared.

    1. yeah, dude, I NEED FRIENDS LIKE YOU IN MY LIFE!:)

      To be SUPER honest though, my friends are amazing, and this post was directed at one or two only who are a bit too wrapped up in their own lives…

  5. And sex and the city is fun to watch
    but the general lack of realism in the entire series makes it not even worth quoting when illustrating a point(who’s friendship got back on track cause her selfish suddenly selfless friend babysat and put a vibrator in the baby seat? i also still wish i had Manolos in the first place , so they could get stolen)
    now can i be your childless friend? i wanna do ur dishes ! 🙂

    1. you see, I agree that Sex and The City is completely unreal, but you’d be surprised at how many girls I know who seem to have expectations based on the show… ! 🙂

      1. oh my gosh really !?
        Its actually sad and scary for women out there thinking the “Carrie life” is real !
        Do they still believe in Santa too?

  6. good points well made! please tell me I’m not one of them?! If I’ve ever been guilty of 1-7 I will wash the equivalent number of dishes next time I’m over 😉

  7. My main question is why do you assume your friends or all women, will eventually have kids?
    ALso your list is pretty, well, bad. And if your friends are exhibiting these behaviours you have awful friends. I am childless, I found Sex and the City to be a consumerism worshipping fantasy/nightmare that has no relation to my life. I do like kids, happy to hang out with them and baby sit. Happy to hear about them and help their parents out. That’s how I am. You see I might not have kids or want them, but I’m not selfish. Kidfree doesn’t equal self centred and hung up on spas and alcohol & late nights. And having kids is also not a cure for selfish. Selfish people remain selfish whatever their kid count. What is selfish and boring is when parents use their kids as ego extensions, for bragging rights, and live through them.

    1. Miriel, i know that the title of this post is a massive generalisation (shame on you Thais!), but i did start by saying that i’m sure there are loads of mums surrounded by cool understanding friends like YOU. i don’t assume every woman or my friends will eventually have kids, and to be honest, if they’re not ready, just don’t have them.

      And totally agree with your last sentence. Kids should never be anybody’s whole life.

      1. Yeah, but see, you still said, “if they’re not ready, just don’t have them.” which implies that all women will eventually want children. It also implies that women who do have children are somehow more responsible (i.e. “ready”) than the women who made the conscious decision to never have children. I can understand that some women want children. Why can mothers never understand that not all women have the same dreams and goals as themselves? And this list sounds like a childfree woman is obligated to help with your housework and child care just to be your friend. When my friends with children come to my house I don’t expect them to do all my dishes and take care of my dogs for me…I’m definitely NOT doing it for them! I will clean up after myself and take care of myself but no way I’m doing anything outside of that!

  8. I am also REALLY nice after a full nights sleep! Completely and utterly love your post…my sentiments exactly, not one of my friends has children and they just do not seem to get it. My number 1 friend crime is just the slackness of them fullstop….all night partying (like i used to) then cancelling meet ups and stuff! yep, part of me is a tiny bit envious but the other very big part me just misses my friends!! My life’s changed and theirs hasn’t. Oh well, one of them better get knocked up fast!!! Love the post x

    1. thanks, Rachel. It is a big change, but not for the worse. I’m realising now that once you pass the initial shock of motherhood and you take control of your life again, your life goes back to be the same… only much, much RICHER. And if you’re friends are patient to adapt a little in that initial phase, then the friendship remains…only much, much STRONGER.
      good luck! xx

  9. Kids are not for everyone. I take one look at my best bud with her three kids and know I made the right choice for me: to be CHILDFREE.

    Whatever makes you happy. But I am the first one to whisk her away for a spa day – my treat – so that she doesn’t forget what it’s like to be girly. Naturally, those get togethers are every few months or so. I know that the kids come first.

    To assume that we’ll “get there” is ignorant. To profile someone without kids as a person who does not understand that your life has changed is stupid and arrogant.

    1. and to say that we are WEAKER because we don’t have kids…..what a load of bullshit!!
      What happens if you’ve had 8 unsuccessful IVF attempts over a 2 year period? Does that mean I’m WEAKER because they didn’t work and I have no children?
      You silly, ignorant, immature, self centred person!!

  10. I find this blog post funny! I’m childfree and happy so what do you mean we’re not quite “there yet”? Oh you mean because we’re completely happy and have NO desire for kids at all? It sounds like you regret your decision to have kids lol. You sound very jealous of people that have free time and a good life without kids, it shows in your writing! I can have sex anytime I want, party all the time, make new friends, drop the friends who obsess over kids (because I have no desire to be around kids), go have fun anywhere because I’m not tied down. It seems your in denial about how you’ve ruined your own life while the rest of us are happy being childfree and spontaneous! 🙂

  11. It sounds like you think all childless females think Sex and the City is accurate? I’ve always hated that show! It’s unrealistic and for very promiscuous people. Guess what? You can be childless and still be in a long term good relationship (NOT want kids), and have a career and a life instead of being a woman stuck in the 50’s mentality of being a slave to kids and your husband, and only being used as a baby maker HAHA! I’ve had no desire for children at all and I’m glad I’m not going to have any. Just like some people are happy they have one career instead of another it’s as simple as that. Why have kids? when you can have a life, have a career, spend your hard earned money on yourself (if your the kind of woman that works at all), not depend on other people for money, party, and go on vacations etc? Why have kids and ruin that life? I’m so glad I’m smart enough to not give birth and suffer the rest of my life 😀

  12. Kids are not for everyone, it is more selfish and irresponsible if one just have kids because she thinks that’s what every woman should do, it takes a lot of engery and time and money to raise healthy (physically and mentally) children, and one could even say it is BRAVER, not WEAKER, to recognize that her strengths and purpose is not having kids.
    Also not every childfree person is all about partying and spa and shopping, a person not having children could spend his or her extra money and time helping out abused kids, abandonmed seniors, starving kids in 3rd world country, there are so many unfortunate children without parents out there in this over-populated world, we do not need to reproduce ourselves to feel life is fulfilled.

  13. I have never wanted kids, and this article sure ain’t sellin’ me on the idea lady. Thanks but no thanks, I’ll sleep in, spend it all on me and maintain my sanity, my figure, my bank account, my career goals and my relationship with my husband.
    Thanks for reminding me what I would never want to be!
    :^)

  14. For years, doctors have warned about the dangers of not getting enough shuteye — traffic accidents, weight gain, decreased productivity and immune protection, but the effects of oversleeping are not well-understood. There isn’t medical evidence to recommend that people who sleep long hours should change their habits, Kripke said…`’,

    Brand new posting on our own internet site <http://www.picturesofherpes.co/

  15. You can have children and FEEL childless and everything else -less and you can be childless and have MANY children also be everything else -less!!
    I do agree, though, that before I had children I could not really relate what an my friends with kids went through and they couldn’t or didn’t want to understand how I felt not getting pregnant for years … Just talk, support, chill and ask and BE THERE for each other (in thought, write a card, send a message, volunteer and mingle with people from other backgrounds, dog owners, attend political forums (some offer child care!!), have lunch at a public cafeteria at a nursing home with your children!! Be creative, everyone will profit!

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