Among my core group of local friends, my son was the first child. In fact, to this day, only one child has joined him: my daughter. While I have mom friends (great ones!), most of the people I hang out with on a regular basis haven't done the whole baby thing and others have no plans to at all. I was a bit nervous that having a baby would drive a wedge between me and them, but it turns out that having a baby made me closer to my kid-free friends. Who'd have guessed?! But it turns out you can be friends with people who aren't exactly like you if you give it a whirl.
There's good news and there's bad news. The bad news is that not all of the child-free friends I had before I was married made the transition to "child-free friends I have now that I'm a mom." They were, largely, replaced with parent-friends. I'm still friendly with all of them, but for the most part we don't talk and only vaguely kind of know what one another is doing via social media. The good news is that all of my best friends made the transition seamlessly. There was never a question that we were going to continue to rock the whole BFF thing.
Of course, that's not to say there haven't been challenges or things I haven't been able to attend, but at the end of the day we're actually closer now than we were six years ago before my littles were ever in the picture. How, you ask? Well, I'll tell you:
Before I had children, I could just text my friend at 11:00 to see if they wanted to do a 12:30 brunch, or vice versa. Afterwards we could go back to their apartment and binge watch a Law and Order marathon. It was wonderful to just be able to kick back and enjoy one another's company, even when we were doing something so casual and mindless.
Nowadays, the hastily planned, leisurely brunches are just not in the cards. Forget about calling me at 10 p.m. to ask if I want to meet up at a bar. Spontaneity aside, the amount of time we are able to spend together is also limited, because not only to I have to be with my kids, I want to be with my kids — I am being pulled in more and more different directions. However, that doesn't mean we don't have fun anymore. It means that when we do see each other it feels like a special treat.
These days we have more to catch up on. Plus, if I'm going to be able to get out of the house for a few hours I'm not going to spend the day sitting around watching SVU in relative silence as we text. (Well, not the entire day.)
Again, not that there isn't something to be said for being lazy and low-key, but hanging out after kids is like a greatest hits anthology. Whatever our favorite thing to do is, that's what we're going to do. It's like a concentrated dose of friendship and it's great.
Truthfully, it would be easy enough to stop being friends in some ways. My friends have busy lives and I have a busy life: that in and of itself could serve as an obstacle to continued social interaction. Add to that the fact that I have to plan around not only my schedule, but my two children? It takes work to maintain a friendship, but it's work we're willing to do for each other and that gives us the warm and fuzzies.
Do you know what it's like to hear someone say, "I have to use the bathroom" and know that you don't have to follow them in and wipe their ass? If you don't know that it's a feeling of sheer bliss, I'd guess you're not a parent. If you are a parent, then you can appreciate how awesome it is to have a facet of your life where you're not surrounded by your children in some way.
Don't get me wrong: I adore my children and even when they are both literally climbing on me as I'm trying to do something else, it's annoying but I know I'm lucky. Still, I'm also lucky to have a completely kid-free outlet with my friends where we don't have to deal with children stuff, where conversation doesn't fall to parenting, and where no one has to watch Daniel Tiger.
Seeing someone you love with the little people you love the most? It's spectacular. Especially if your friends are good with kids (mine are, because they're awesome). Have you ever seen a baby duck imprint on a human before? I feel like that's basically what happened with my 2-year-old daughter and my best friend when he came over to bake cookies at my parents' house over the recent holiday, and I couldn't have been more delighted.
When your life is very different from someone else's, I find you necessarily have to look at things from their perspective a bit more if you want to maintain the friendship. Of course them having a new perspective on me seems more intuitive and obvious, since I'm the one who had children and my life looks a lot different than it did five years ago, but I have to make sure I don't get so wrapped up in my parenthood world that I can't understand where they're coming from or forget what it's like not to have children. Now, truthfully, my life was pretty different from a lot of my friend's lives even before I had kids, but the children have provided an opportunity to really step back and think about one another in a different light.
...because that's what happens when you allow yourself to see something from someone else's perspective.
It sounds cheesy, but one of the things being a mother has changed about me is that I have felt more compassionate toward the world in general (which is a big deal for a surly and sarcastic New Englander like me). I figure everyone and everything is someone else's baby, and their parent loves and cares for them them the way I love and care for my babies. And if they don't love and care for them they should because everyone deserves to have a parent's all-encompassing, fathomless love. Being a mother has, in this way, deepened all of my relationships.
Like I said: not all of my pre-kid friends stuck around (nor did I do everything I could have to stay close so it's not all on them). Still, some friends are just there for keeps. Maybe I'm cheating on this point, because having a baby in and of itself make us any closer, but the fact of the matter is that having a baby didn't keep these friendships from their natural destiny, which is grow and deepen over time. Some friends are just like that.
Having a my babies did, in some ways, enhance my relationships with my friends in ways I didn't see coming. Above and beyond all that, the main thing my children proved to me is that it's going to take more than a couple of kids (or a new, demanding job, or a move to Australia) to break up my most important friendships.