I’m not sure what it is about the group we run with – maybe there’s something in the water – but it seems like most of my friends were very early to the “let’s settle down + get married + have kiddos” party. Full disclosure: I too am hopping on that train – or at least the first two cars of that train. I am 25 and very happily engaged, but I don’t see kids being part of our equation for at least a few years.
I mean, some of these friends of ours are younger than us, married, and have multiple children runnin’ around. Meanwhile, I’m over here surviving off of Shamrock Shakes, barely able to rip myself away from technology long enough to take my dog for a walk, and ordering 12 throw pillows off Amazon that I’m just sure will transform our new couch into a magical, Pinterest-worthy paradise. I just don’t see a miniature human fitting into that world – or rather, I can’t see that world fitting a miniature human, at least for awhile.
It should be noted that I am a HUGE fan of all our friends’ kiddos. Like, I love them. And I love hanging out with them. And I love that my friends created them. And I love seeing how happy said tiny humans make my friends. I love spoiling them, and playing with them, and scaring them, and convincing them to love me. I feel like, after a few more years of soaking up all of the brilliance of our mommy- and daddy-friends, our kiddos are destined to be perfect, because we’ll obviously know everything we’ll ever need to know about parenting by then. So thank you, dear friends, for paving the way.
In the meantime, though, it can be kind of tough. I feel like there’s a bit of unintended awkwardness – you’re thinking, “I need to vent about kid stuff, but I can’t talk to you because you have no idea what I’m saying,” and I’m thinking, “Man, your life is totally different from mine, and I am worthless if you’re looking for parenting advice, but I want nothing more than to be your BFF.” It can be kind of hard to relate, right? Once upon a time we lived on the same planet, but now you know nothing about my world and I know absolutely zilch about yours.
But that’s okay. I think we can get back to common ground, it just takes a little bit more effort than it used to. I think it helps if we understand where one another’s coming from. So here are the 9 things I’m thinking – 9 things it might be helpful for you, my ahead-of-the-life-choices-curve friend, to know about what it’s like to be the one behind that curve.
1. It’s ok to talk ‘baby’ with me.
Yeah, ok. If you’re looking for suggestions on what diaper cream to use or where to send your little tyke for daycare, I probably don’t have a lot to offer. But if you’re having a rough day because your perfect little peanut just pooped his pants, or your tiny princess just spent the last three hours screaming at the top of her lungs, call me. I’m still your friend, and I can still be your sounding board, even though we’re talking about boys who pooped themselves instead of the boys who broke our hearts that used to fill our conversations.
2. I will be as involved in the crazy as you’ll let me be.
I can take it. You don’t need to apologize for fingerpaint messes or for your four-year-old who glares at me like I am the scum between her toes. I get that kiddos are crazy and unfiltered, and I look up to you for handling them as well as you do. The thing is, I want to be there for the craziness. I want them to be so used to me being around that they run to the door and greet me with a hug, instead of running away screaming ‘STRANGER DANGER!’
3. I’m sad that our kids probably won’t be best friends…
I remember the exact second when one of my closest friends told me she was pregnant. My immediate gut reaction was, “But…we were supposed to have kids at the same time so they could grow up together, [insert sad face].” I know – how selfish of me, right?
I got over that gut reaction really fast, and I think I might have actually let out an excited scream. But even when I think about it now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little sad. I’ve got all these friends with kiddos that are roughly the same age as one another. Those kiddos are going to get playdates and cute little pictures taken together that will be on display at their co-hosted high school graduation parties. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but you catch my drift?
Meanwhile, my theoretical little child will be the one that all the big kids gang up on while we all get together for nights of game-playing for the kiddos and wine/beer-drinking for the mommies and daddies. Just so you know, in my fantasy world, I’m depending on at least one of you to unexpectedly get pregnant with a companion for my fantasy-world unborn child. Kapeesh?
4. …but I’m really happy I’ll have some on-call babysitters for when we both need a break from parenting some day.
When we get beyond the stage where your big kids are ganging up on my little guy, I’m fully expecting your children to morph into responsible, attentive, pre-teen caretakers. I’m excited to get to the point where we use that to our advantage, and can escape to vent about the woes of parenthood together, away from the kiddos – and I expect your children’s full support in helping me make that dream come true. By my math, I should have about three or four babysitters on rotation in about eight years. That should do just fine.
5. I get that you’re busy.
If you ask me to hang out, I’m not going to say no unless there is an impending natural disaster or my house is literally on fire. I know your life as a parent is crazy, and I know that there’s a decently high likelihood that, even if we do make plans, something related to your parental duties might come up, and those plans might change. That doesn’t bother me. You can make + break plans with me as long as you need to while parenthood settles down. I’m going to soak up as much of you as I can, when you can, because I know my lifestyle is more flexible than yours right now. And I’ll be here waiting when you’re ready to ‘come back to me.’ Can you do me a favor, though, and be just as dedicated to making hanging out happen with me if/when your kids are tame and I decide to start bringing little monsters into the world?
6. Just like you need mommy friends, I need not-mommy friends.
I love that you have friends who aren’t me who can relate to you on all levels of mommy stuff that I can’t wrap my head around. And while the mommy-speak sometimes makes me feel a little left out, I totally get that you need that support system.
The flipside of that is I need to surround myself with people with lifestyles more like mine every now and then. People who work in the same kinds of places that I work, that deal with the same BS that I do. People who can hear about a concert, buy tickets to that concert, and go to that concert, all within 24 hours. People who sleep in on the weekends and have spare time to read adult books. It’s okay that you can’t check all of those boxes, as long as it’s okay that I can’t check all of yours.
7. I can’t help but be a little jealous…
My heart melts when I see the connection you have with your kid. Seriously. Heart. Melts. There’s a part of me that leaves with just a twinge of baby fever. It’s so powerful to see how you’ve shaped your little ones into tiny humans, and how much they love and rely on you. That has to be an untouchable, indescribable feeling, and I hope I get to experience it some day.
8. …but I also feel a little relieved that I’m not there yet.
I’m okay with that some day not being any day soon. I love your kids, but I also love that I get to leave and go home once I’m done soaking up their cuteness – or once they’ve decided that the temper tantrum they’re throwing isn’t going to end for at least the next two hours. I don’t know how you do what you do day-in and day-out, and I’m not ready to figure it out just yet.
9. I’ll be happy for you if you’ll be happy for me.
Last but not least, I love the turn that your life has taken since your little one joined the world. I love watching you parent, and I’m so excited to watch you turn a little person into a bigger person. I’ll never stop being happy for you.
Choosing to hold off on becoming a parent has shaped a – shall we say, different? – path for me. I’ve focused a LOT of my energy the past six or seven years on my career. I work hard and, on occasion – ok, fine, on a lot of occasions – I indulge. I like vacations, and I like clothes, and I like pricey restaurants, and I like most nice things. What I don’t like is feeling guilty about those indulgences.
Like I said, I’ll never stop being happy for you and your life that now revolves around the newest little addition. Just be happy for me too, ok? I need pressure to settle down and have kiddos just about as much as you need pressure from me to drop everything + a couple thousand dollars to go on a tropical vacation escape with me. In both those cases, our fiances/husbands/boyfriends/baby daddies would actually kill us — we certainly don’t need that, do we?