I looking at some old photos recently of old friends, ones who stayed on in school after I left to go to work, ones who stayed on in work when I left to have babies. Some I haven’t spoken to for years after we’d drifted apart, I know some other parents will have similar experiences so I decided to write this open letter to all the non-parents out there on behalf of us all.
Dearest child-free friends,
When people become parents, especially if they have decided to have children young (or they just happen upon them earlier than expected) it is quite normal for non-parent friends to become distant. You might only live twenty minutes away, but after a year or so we have struggled to see each other a couple of times and it is painfully obvious that we both travel in completely different circles.
While one of us is pulling an all-nighter roaming from club to club and dancing with a cocktail in hand, the other will more likely be up all night swaying back and forth in a manic, yet rhythmic movement for hours on end, because if we lose that rhythm the colicky/refluxy/teething/just generally not happy baby will start screaming again!
While one spends leisurely afternoons sipping hot frothy, flavoured coffee, getting their hair done and flipping through magazines, the other is reheating their chipped mug of tea in the microwave, again, getting an up-do from the toddler with all the pretty clips (and a diecast car) and reading One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish for the millionth time that day.
It’s not that we are avoiding you, even after all the struggles to meet up, the last minute cancellations, the weeks and months of not replying to that text/phone call/ facebook message, it’s not that we love you any less. But, You know… Kids!
Here are some explanations to our seeming inability to maintain friendships.
- We really don’t mean to be late EVERY time we plan to meet up. Small babies have this tendancy to poo just as you try to leave the house, especially if you have just changed them, the same goes for sick. More often than not, the clothing we arrive in will have been the 3rd change of clothes that day at least.
- We don’t cancel get togethers at the last minute on purpose! When you have small children, things change very quickly. One innocent little sneeze at 8am can suddenly turn into a full blown snot attack, accompanied by a raging temperature at 12pm, just as we are getting ready to leave.
- When you are sleep deprived and your entire existence seems to be feeding, changing, watching the same 17 episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba over and over (seriously Netflix, I know more exist, just another few episodes won’t kill you!!!!) and wrangling toddlers, replying to calls and messages is not something our brains can remember for long. If we don’t reply immediately, it is because we have looked, thought “Oh that’s nice let me just… oh, I best stop the toddler from trying to climb out of the window” and the thought is gone never to be recalled.
- Finding baby sitters isn’t as easy as it seems, especially when you have more than a couple of kids. We can’t come out ‘with the girls’ once a month because we need to save the few special people who do actually agree to babysit for special occasions, like a birthday, anniversary, or when we haven’t slept for a month straight!
- Sometimes going out is just not practical, we may have been up all night, smell slightly of baby vomit and haven’t even seen the brush this week, so the last thing we need to be seen in public. But why not pop in for a coffee and a pink wafer biscuit? Or even bring takeout Starbucks with cake. We will love you forever if you do!
- If you do stop by, yes there is a high likelihood of my house smelling like baby poo. The scent of a bum change, especially a weaning baby one is a scent that often lingers, so if you walk through the door at just the wrong time…well, try breathing through your mouth, because spraying air freshener around a toddler is kinda frowned upon.
- Yes, we may have made new friends, some we may have met at ante-natal classes, others through playgroups etc. We are not replacing you, but we need to speak to other people who are just as open about poo and sick and sore nipples and know exactly what we are going through.
I promise this stage won’t last forever, our children will grow up and soon we will be able to meet for lunch, take in a little window shopping, as long these activities happen in term time! But most importantly of all remember that one day, if you chose to reproduce, you will be in my shoes! But don’t fear, we will come visit and we promise never to comment on the baby vomit in your hair or the wet-wiped poo smear on your trouser leg.
Your dearest friends,
All the sleep deprived Mummies, Mommas, Mammies, Papas and Daddies everywhere xxx