The majority of my closest friends are child-free. Some are on the fence, some know they want them down the line, and others are committed to child-free living for the rest of their days. Now I know there are some moms/parents out there who, after they procreate, immediately begin to wheedle such friends to spawn. "Come on. You'll never regret having a baby! And then our kids can play together." I am not one of those moms. Not only is it rude as hell, but cool, child-free aunts are essential to the survival of over-worked, under-appreciated, exhausted moms the world over. Trust me.
If I'm being honest, I must admit that maintaining a great relationship with a child-free friends once you have a child takes work. All relationships require effort if they're going to be worth a thing, of course, but having a mom friend when you're a mom requires the effort of, say, cat ownership. Yeah, you need to take some things into consideration but on the whole they're mostly going to fit in with whatever you've already got going on. You have kids, they have kids, so you're basically going to be on the same wavelength involving what is possible.
Having a child-free friend, on the other hand, is going to require you to consider more factors. Are you going to go out or will they come over? You can't have them come over all the time because you can't concentrate on adult company with kids over. If you go out, you're going to have to arrange for a sitter or make sure your partner is cool parenting solo for the day/evening/weekend. If your partner is invited, too, you definitely need a sitter. It's not impossible, but it generally requires more planning and forethought. But the effort is well worth it, because these ladies make everyone's lives better.
Because They Give You A Non-Child Related Outlet
If you get a bunch of parents together, at some point conversation is going to turn to kids and parenting. That's to be expected. It's not all we talk about, but this whole "raising human beings" business takes a lot of our time and energy and it's useful to talk about it with people who understand. Sometimes, admittedly, this will happen in spite of ourselves. We don't mean to spend a night out talking about what time the winter concert starts or what Little Maddie and Jasper think of their kindergarten teacher, but it happens. These issues are understandably on our minds.
With your child's cool child-free aunt, that's less likely to happen, or at least for as long, since talking about kids is a one way conversation in this instance. People, that's awesome. It's not that you don't enjoy parenting or talking about it, but it's nice to remember there's more to you than just caring for someone else.
Because You Can Offer Each Other Fresh Perspectives
It's nice for everyone involved to have a friend who is living a very different life. It allows both of you to see beyond your bubbles (not an intentional bubble, mind you, because we're limited creatures and that's nobody's fault) and really consider things outside of your own perspective. It's refreshing and enlightening.
Because They Have Energy To Deal With Your Children
You, bless your heart, are exhausted. You haven't slept in [insert child's age here] and it shows. You're just so tired. But your kid's cool, child-free auntie? She's excited to see them and she's ready to go! She knew she was coming today so she got a good night's sleep last night (that's possible for her) and took her vitamins this morning. She can handle your child without breaking a damn sweat.
Because Your Child-Free Friend Still Finds Your Kid Charming
In addition to being physically tired, you've reached the limit of a lot of your kid's bullsh*t. And I don't mean poor behavior (though OMG that too). I mean that you cannot watch the same episode of My Little Pony one more time. And you like playing with your kids, but when they want to re-enact the same 30 second scene over and over and over and over again it gets pretty old pretty fast.
But your cool, child-free friend? She doesn't have to do this every day, so she is down and your kids are here for it. They're going nuts, because, duh, she is the coolest adult ever. Your friend also gets to enjoy playing with your children because she remembers that they are not, in fact, her children. Because yes, playing with kids can be a blast, until someone is upset or sh*ts their pants or does whatever inconceivable thing unpredictable children do.
Literally everyone wins.
Because They Keep You Up To Date
Unless something features an animated character or a child with their own YouTube channel, you are probably behind the trend and out of the loop. Enter your cool child-free friend, who can keep you abreast of what's going on in the adult world.
Because They Walk The Line Between Authority Figure & Badass
There are very likely times when your child doesn't quite know what to make of their cool child-free auntie. They're bigger than them, so... they're an adult. But they're also, like, not like a parent or a teacher. They are, to quote my friend's daughter, "a kid adult," which is basically the coolest possible designation one can have.
Because They Make You Make Time For Yourself
Because unlike with some of your mom friends, you can't revolve your get-togethers around playdates and other kid activities. That can fly when everyone involved has children (and doesn't want to pay for a sitter), but it's bonkers to involve your children every time you want to hang out with a friend who has yet and/or doesn't plan on procreating. This means you're going to get some quality, kid-free, adult time.
Because They Are Double Agent
Remember the whole "kid adult" thing. This will, I understand, persist as the children get older. It is very handy to have a responsible adult whom your child thinks is cool on hand. So your kid won't listen or open up to you? Time to visit cool auntie, who will report back just about everything and enable you to make your next move.
And it's not entirely duplicitous, either, because your kid will for sure appreciate a safe place to express their thoughts, ideas, and problems. (And, let's face it: you're not raising a dummy. They know where auntie's loyalties ultimately lie, they just sometimes need a conduit to communicate with a parent.)
Because You've Most Likely Known Them Since Before You Were A Mom
It's great to continue to be friends with someone who knows you for you, outside of the context of motherhood. Someone who knows your personal tastes and interests (and probably your favorite adult beverage). Don't get me wrong, it's great to have a mom tribe, and I'm not saying they won't get you on a personal level, but having a friend that goes way back is vital, especially when you feel like you're losing yourself to motherhood.
Because They're A Good Role Model For Kids Regarding Parenthood
"Mommy" and "daddy" is, for many kids, synonymous with "adult." It's not just their mommy and daddy. After all, all of their friends parents have kids! So it's great to have a cool, child-free aunt in their lives to let them know that being a responsible adult doesn't mean you have to have kids. There are lots of different ways to adult and each has its perks. The world is your oyster.
Because They're Naive Enough To Be Tricked Into Taking Your Kids From Time To Time
Your child-free friend has no damn clue what they're getting themselves into. And by the time you ask them again they've already forgotten the horrors of the time before.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.