Society's unfair opinions about women who choose to be child-free are as endless as they are cruel. As a result, and always, I would never want to make my closest friends (or any woman, for that matter) feel uncomfortable about their personal lives, especially when it comes to whether or not they choose to (or can) have kids. Having said that, I have to admit there are some things every mom thinks about her child-free friends, but doesn't say out loud, that have definitely crossed my mind a time or two.
Usually those things are more about me than my child-free friends, and essentially reveal just how much my life has changed since I had a baby and became a mother. It can be hard not to sound judgmental and a bit condescending, though, and especially when I tell my friends just how different my post-baby life is. In fact, I think it's pretty impossible to minimize all the ways in which becoming a parent changed me in every perceivable way. Still, I know that when I express those changes to my child-free friends I can, sometimes, come off as patronizing or rude.
Of course, and it goes without saying, women who are unable to have children, or choose not to have children for a number of very valid reasons, live extremely full, rich, and valuable lives. Having a child doesn't make you some superior being. In fact, it just makes you a tired one. It can, however, also drive a wedge between friends who have gone down a different life path. Which is why, for better or worse, there are just a few things I think about my child-free friends. You just won't catch me saying them out loud.
"You Look Incredible"
In those first few months of having a newborn, it took nothing short of a next-level superhuman effort for me to throw on a clean shirt and a pair of sweatpants that didn't have poop or spit up on them. I would look longingly at my child-free friends, with their makeup and their well-rested faces, and just couldn't help but feel like garbage. When compare to my new mom "I haven't slept in a month" look, they were goddesses.
"Sorry, But Your Pet Is Not Your Baby"
I know my child-free friends love their pets and, hey, I love mine, too. Still, to me, they're not the same as having a child. Like, not even a little bit.
"Your Life Is So Glamorous"
The appeal of girls' nights out, cocktails, and 4 a.m. cab rides increases exponentially when you've been at home with a sleeping, pooping, always-eating baby for months on end. When I was postpartum that single girl, Sex In the City life seemed so exciting and glamorous, especially when my idea of a "big night out" was sitting in front of my TV and eating a pint of ice cream.
In the end, though, it's never helpful to compare lives with someone else. We all have our good days and our bad, regardless of whether or not we've decided to have children.
"You Honestly Don't Know What 'Tired' Means"
When my child-free friends would listen to me complain about my baby keeping me up all night, and quip back with, "Yeah, I am tired, too," I wanted to scream.
I've stayed up all night dancing, worked night shifts, and burnt the candle at both ends when studying in school. Still, and hands down, there is no tired like new mom tired. Believe me. So while I know it's not a competition and it's all relative, please let me whine. Please.
"Take Me With You"
When all I had to look forward to was the next diaper change or binge watching my favorite show while my baby was endlessly breastfeeding, my friend's plans seemed so exciting. Whether it was going on a date, a trip to the spa, a night out, or even a work event, I would secretly wish they would smuggle me out of the house and take me with them.
"I Need More Notice"
Yes, I wanted to go out with my friends and enjoy some time away from my baby. My child-free friends, however, didn't always give me enough notice to book a sitter or arrange care for my baby. That makes any "friend time" simply impossible to facilitate. Maybe they thought I was boring, or maybe they thought I didn't want to hang out with them because I was a mom. Either way, I needed more notice if I was going to leave the house.
"Yes, I Can Talk About Other Things"
I honestly think my child-free friends didn't want to seem uninterested in my little one, so they constantly talked about him and my new role as a mom, directly after he was born. As a result, they sometimes made me feel that I no longer had anything important or interesting to say about anything else that didn't involve diapers or sleep schedules.
I longed to talk about their new boyfriends, or an issue at work, or the latest drama on reality TV, or whatever else was going on with them. you know, basically anything except babies.
"I Know You Don't Want To Babysit"
When I got pregnant I had so many friends offer to babysit when the baby arrived. My son is now 3 years old, and never, not once, has he been watched by one of my friends. Ever.
I get it. I babysat for years and wouldn't want to give up my Friday night or weekend plans either. Just, you know, please don't offer if you aren't actually going to follow through.
"I Still Want You In My Life"
The things I loved about my friends didn't change when I became a mom. I still respect and admire them and, in fact, I need them more than ever.
Every child-free woman should have a mom for a friend, and vice versa. Every single woman, regardless of her reproductive choices, can bring so much to a friendship. Things that, no matter what, are worth holding onto.