Mommy and Non-Mommy Friends

I think the New York Times stole my idea. 🙂  On Motherlode, there are two posts that are an interesting contrast.  In one post, the writer abandons a friendship with a childless friend and seeks out the moms with whom she feels more comfortable and can relate to.  In the other, the writer realizes that just because you both have kids doesn’t mean you should be friends.  I fall into the latter category.  When Mr. Geeky took his first job, the wife of one of his colleagues invited me to join a “mommy” group.  I enjoyed the group, but only established a friendship with one or two of the 30 or so women who were members.  I, too, got tired of talking about what my kids were doing developmentally all the time.  I wanted to talk about my work, my passions, my interests.  And the women I got along with best in that group were the ones who’s children were oldest.  One woman told me at some point that even though I didn’t look it, I seemed much older and wiser than I was.  I took it as a complement.  My closest local friends include both parents and non-parents. I also have quite a few male friends, and interestingly, when I look back at high school and college, I was closer to more men than women as just friends. Among my parent friends, though we do often discuss our children, we spend plenty of time talking politics and current events and about other interests.  That’s what maintains a friendship, not having kids the same age.

7 Replies to “Mommy and Non-Mommy Friends”

  1. It’s funny, because as the single-no-kids girl I find that almost all of my friends are the married-with-kids types. And I think we get along because I’m like their escape hatch from reality. The one with more interest in what they’re doing rather than what their kids are up to. I guess I give them the ability to remember what it’s like to be themselves, rather than “Mom”. Oh, and I’m told that my quiet house, with no cartoons blaring in the background (along with a fridge stocked with adult beverages!) doesn’t hurt either.

    Sometimes I long for friends that have circumstances closer to my own (it’s hell trying to find someone to go on vacation with when all your friends have a family!), but these Moms that I’m friends with give back in their own way. For me – a family to spend holidays with or even just someone to include me for meals or outings. I can get my kid fix without having to deal with any of my own. Seems a good trade-off!

  2. Laura, I’ve been on a couple of short vacations with my sister in law, who is single with no kids. We both really enjoy it. I bet you could find a mom who’d love a few days away from the kids and the hubby!

  3. I think both those articles were pretty dumb, as, frankly, I think Belkin generated conversations/Motherlode often is. They insist on setting up a confrontational relationship between groups of women, suggesting you have to choose one or the other.

    I love talking about my kids. They occupy a large area of my brainspace (they’re still pretty young, but it is now, not when they were babies that I find the most brain space occupied; I don’t know how much space they’ll occupy when they’re older). I also find other people’s kids hugely interesting. One of the things I’ve liked about motherhood is the ways in which it brings me understanding/communality with people who don’t share *all* my interests. Instead of everyone I know having a doctorate in the same field as me, and largely similar educational background, I get a broader array of people, artists, and landscape designer, and others. Interesting people.

    So, I’d guess, the broader lesson is that you friends should have common interests. But, if you define your interests too narrowly, you won’t have any friends, ’cause no one will have the same interests as you (or they will be very few). As interests broaden/change, if you want to maintain friendships over longer periods of time, you have to be interested in the other persons interest, enough to respect them (and that applies to everyone in the relationship).

    (Oh, and no one wants to talk about *your* kids, *your* divorce, *your* job, *your* navel all the time. So if you’re only interested in yourself, well, . . . .)

  4. True enough, bj. I, too, like talking about my kids, but they’re not the only thing going on in my life. And I am hugely interested in other people lives, not just their kids. It’s absolutely true that having kids brings one into contact with lots of different kinds of people. I like that, and find it enriching.

  5. I was blown away by how easy it was to make friends with parents, once our first child was born. My appearance (long hair, beard, ursine body) usually triggers kidnapping fears in parents with children… but the minute they see my son or daughter, total strangers are happy to hand me their toddlers.

    And I must chime in with the reverse. We lost touch with so many friends, simply because we had a baby and they did not. Parenting cut right through our social networks.

  6. Bryan, I wonder if your experience is true because you’re a father. I think people are more intrigued by men with kids than women with kids. And I agree, we did lose a few friends when we had kids, but our having a kid also coincided with a major move shortly after, so it’s hard to speculate which came first.

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