{05/07/2012}   Friends without children friends with friends with children

                As soon as a friend (I am writing this about female friends) has a baby, I believe your friendship is changed forever.  I am a friend without children and I have a mixture of friends with and without children.  My relationship with those without is, inevitably, different to my relationship with friends with children.  I think it is difficult for withs and withouts to re-establish post-baby relationships but it can and should be possible.  But I find it sad that there are some friends who seem to fall by the wayside once a baby is added to the equation.

                It has been known for people with children to tell (or imply unsubtly) people without children that they can’t possibly understand their lives because they don’t understand what it is like to have children.  I can see that is true, though it doesn’t need to be said.  But I think it is less commonly accepted that those with children no longer know what it’s like to be without them.  I am occasionally told I’m a jet setter or I’m busy or I go out a lot, purely because I am without children.  That is not a reflection of my life; it is not one big party.  It never really has been.  But, yes, the odds are high that I will go out more and do more impulsive things, from having a quiet cup of coffee on my own in a café to going away with friends for the weekend on a last minute whim (though I am struggling to think of a recent example when this has happened!).

There are some people who have had children and who you continue to have a lovely friendship with.  Yes, it’s impossible you will see each other as often or be in touch as much, but there are compromises that, once all is a little settled, fall into place.  Fortunately for me, it is like that with all my good friends, though there is a big difference between friends.  But I have known and known of people you don’t see or keep in touch with once a baby is born.

I feel I am walking on eggshells by writing this because it is a very sensitive subject.  There are a few people I know of who, to an outsider’s eyes, have a baby and suddenly drop all their non-baby friends for those they meet at various baby and pre- and post-natal groups.  It is always good to have friends you can talk to about certain things, eg work or children, knowing they can empathise with you.  But to exclude or distance yourself from friends who have been part of your life up until that point is to abandon a part of you, almost to disown the person that friend grew up with, whether from childhood or more recently.  I believe that women have a variety of potential roles, mainly friend, mother, wife, sister, lover.  To devote yourself (as sometimes seems to be the case) to one, say, mother, is almost tantamount to disowning your friend self, for example.  I think it’s good for children to see their mum in all her potential roles, for knowing how to be a friend is a necessity for everyone, particularly as you’re growing up.

I hope none of my friends are reading this and think I am writing about them, I’m not, though there are some of you I would like to see more often, though that is also my fault and a tangent, largely to do with geography.

My point is that there should always be a place for friends in all phases of your life.  Those friendships have to change as we move away, have busier or quieter jobs, have relationships, have children, etc.  Sometimes a few fall by the wayside for good reason, but essentially ending a friendship because one of you has a baby is not a healthy or happy option.  It may take a while to get used to the changed situation/priorities/dynamic, from both sides, but it’s always worth working at.  And, yes, I am writing this as someone who has lost a friend or two for these reasons.  And, no, they’re not even Facebook friends.  I am also writing this having spent a lovely day yesterday with a good friend who has two young children.


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