I like to think I have nice friends. But lately I’ve noticed that people I knew before they had kids are different as parents. They’re nicer. And a lot more tired.
During a recent visit to my hometown, I got to see eight college friends in this new light. At a pool party, I drew some interesting contrasts between our past and current lives.
Then: The guys thought chasing was drinking something after taking a shot.
Now: They tried to hold conversations while running after their toddlers.
Then: The girls monitored every morsel that went into their mouths.
Now: They compared how much nutrition their kids were getting from dinners of Cheez-Its and organic chocolate milk.
Also Now: The moms were happy just to have a chance to eat. If what they ate was also healthy, well then bonus.
Then: Everyone recounted how much they drank the night before.
Now: Everyone recounted how many times their kids asked for a drink before finally going to bed.
Then: Going out before 11 p.m. was nerdy and getting up before 11 a.m. was insane.
Now: Going out at all is insane and getting up after 8 a.m. is a blessing.
As for being nicer, I have theories. First, I think the new need to look out for someone other than yourself extends beyond the baby; it makes you more aware of others in general. Plus, you’re more interested than ever in what other adults are doing. You’re a lot quicker to remember that someone had a big presentation due at work or is returning from vacation because you want to live vicariously through your pals.
You’re also much quicker to ask for help or advice, and it’s always great to feel needed. Not only does having a friend ask you how you kicked your kid’s gas problem enable you to use multisyllabic words, it makes you feel like maybe, just maybe, you know what you’re doing.
Finally, parenthood is another common denominator. If silence settles in, you can always talk poop.