This is more measured, less annoyed follow up to this post.
No, I don’t think you’re insane for having them. Just because I don’t have, and don’t want children, doesn’t mean I don’t understand and respect that you do. And you know what? I love your kids. You did a really great job there – I’m in awe. And I really want them to like me. Have you seen how hard I try to entertain them when I come to visit? Have you seen how thrilled I am the first time they say my name, or when I make them laugh? I want your kids to love me, to think I am their mom/dad’s cool friend. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, because I don’t have a lot of experience with little ones, so let me know when I’m getting it right, OK?
I know you have an insanely busy life at the moment, that you get no sleep and that your day’s a constant merry-go-round of demands. I’d like to help with that. Seriously. When you have a newborn, I have no idea what would be most helpful – so let me know. Do you want me to bring meals? Sit with your baby for 15 min while you shower? Ply you with chocolate? I’ve not been where you are, so need you to let me know how I can help. When I say ‘just shout if I can help’, I mean it.Please don’t assume that because I’m childfree, you can’t count on me. I’m a quick study.
Oh, and we don’t have to DO things when we see each other. I am quite happy to come round to your place and just hang out, be part of your family life. I really do not care that the house is a mess or you don’t have make-up on. Seriously. I’d love it if you invited me to join you all on your Sunday walks. Or to come and chill on a Friday evening when you order in pizza. Hell, I’ll even bring the pizza. While I am childfree, I do love being around kids, and to be made to feel part of your family is a real honour.
While I think your kids are awesome, YOU are always going to be my priority. See, I knew YOU first. I kind of see my role as the dose of sanity, the adult conversation, the person who reminds you of who you are under the baby puke and under-eye shadows. To me you are not defined as being ‘Johnny’s mom’. Which is why I’m the one who suggests an early movie and a dinner (when last did you do that?). Or a later movie and no dinner. Or whatever little bit of escapism works with your and your child’s schedule. See, as your single, childfree friend, I’m here to give you a break from your daily stresses. Have you noticed that I always ask what will work for you? I’ll do whatever it takes to make it easy and fun for you to take some time out.
I’ll be honest, it does get a bit soul-destroying when you turn down every suggestion I make. Sometimes the tone of your response makes me feel really bad for asking. It makes me sad to see you so frazzled, so harassed. And no, I don’t really understand why you find it hard to prioritise yourself just for a few hours every few months. Sometimes I do want to give up – because silly as it sounds, I do feel rejected, unwanted, unimportant to you. I’m not jealous of your new friends from Baby Gym and your ante-natal classes – it’s lovely that you have people who can totally relate to your life. I just want to be included in it too, somehow. I miss you. I miss having an uninterrupted conversation with you. I miss your being able to give me your full attention when I’m trying to explain my latest heartache, work problem or life challenge. I miss YOU calling me up and suggesting we go and do something fun. It’d be amazing if you did this just once or twice a year – because at the moment I feel like I’m making the lion’s share of the effort to keep our friendship going. I know this all sounds very me-me-me – and I don’t expect things to be like they were, but boy do I miss the old times.
The last thing I want to do is put pressure on you. To make you feel like I am just one other demand on your list. I realise that for the next couple of decades, things are different. I’ve put my big girl pants on and faced it. But I’ll keep at it – I’ll keep making an effort to visit you and your family; to get to know and build a good relationship with your kids; to keep suggesting BFF nights out. Because when you don’t have a family of your own, your friends are hugely important.