When your best friend has kids…and you don’t.
You may have picked up on this already, but I have no children. When you’re 26 or 29 or 32 maybe it’s not a striking detail, but when you’re 36, I think people start wondering, “So when are you going to have kids?”
As much as I’d love to discuss my fertility with the internet, this is not going to be that type of post. When (or if) I’ll have kids is not something I plan to write about on a public blog. That one’s too precious. That one gets saved for my husband, my mother and my closest girlfriends. And possibly a shrink if necessary.
But what I would like to write about is what happens when you hit the stage when many of your girlfriends have children, and you don’t. Because lately I’ve noticed that more people in my social circle have reproduced than haven’t, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t change things quite a lot.
With local friends, it hasn’t made a startling difference. Clearly, my friends who are parents are inclined to more family-friendly social activities, but luckily, we still spend a good amount of time with the couples we’re close with who have children. The kids have all just become part of our extended family, and it’s a beautiful thing, because they’re all really beautiful kids.
The biggest change has happened with my best friend Missy, who I wrote about on the day she delivered her second daughter. Missy and I met our freshman year in college, and I was drawn to her immediately because of her boundless energy, positive attitude and general enthusiasm for everything. She is an incredibly generous friend and an overall wonderful human being. And though I don’t get to witness it firsthand very often at all, I believe she is a truly amazing mother.
In addition to working as a director of a medical facility, she takes her two daughters to numerous activities throughout the week, and volunteers much of her time to charity. She is incredibly busy, and her calendar sounds astoundingly full. Missy lives in Texas, and I live in New York, so the majority of our friendship is shared over the phone. This is where things get tricky. Because as any adult person with a job and other obligations knows, finding spare time to chat with a friend on the phone is a rare and precious thing, and it becomes even more challenging when one or both of the participants have children.
<Missy’s baby is so…squirmy.>
Our phone conversations have become fewer and they’ve become shorter. They are squeezed in between long days at work, playdates and errands, usually on commutes home while still juggling other tasks. It doesn’t help that I’ve also just never been much of a phone person. And though I think we’d both hate to admit it, the differences in our lifestyles are becoming more and more evident. I have taxis honking in my background, and she has little girls chatting in hers. If we lived nearby, I’d just head over to their house and play with all three of them. There are so many times I wish that I could.
I can’t remember a phone call over the past year that didn’t include her asking: “So…any news?”. I know her well enough to know she’s hoping for news beyond a job promotion or a big vacation being planned. She wants to know how close I am to joining her in the experience of motherhood, and I don’t blame her for wanting to know this. If I were in her position as a friend, I think I’d want to know too. Missy gets to share in the joys and the struggles of parenthood with many of her girlfriends, and as one of her very best friends, I know she really wants to share them with me too.
I caught Missy off guard last week when I called her. She had just picked up her oldest daughter from pre-school, and was playing with her before driving to soccer practice. She was a little distracted, and ended up getting off the line to continue helping her little girl with a craft project.
And that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.
Her daughter is a child and needs her attention.
I am an adult, with a recognition that people and relationships evolve and change over time.
She is a mother, and I’m not. She lives in Texas, and I live in New York. It’s getting harder for us to stay close.
But it certainly won’t stop us from trying.