If there’s one phrase that encapsulates my parenting experiences so far, it may very well be “it takes a village to raise a family.” And I’ve been fortunate to see my “village” grow since having kids, making quite a few “mom friends” who’ve turned into real friends (I even previously wrote about how that happened via moms’ nights out!).
Because I spend most of my free time with my kids, I also tend to spend most of my non-working hours with the parents of said kids.
And it’s great: These fellow parents help me with my kids, give me advice (of the parenting and non-parenting variety), and offer adult company when I need it most; we confide in each other, compare notes, and laugh a lot.
But, unfortunately, there’s one particular group of people I don’t see much: my single and/or childless friends.
It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with them, of course, or even that I feel like we can’t relate because I have kids and they don’t. It’s just often easier to hang out with people who run on the same schedules and are into the same weekend activities (playgrounds, anyone?).
Before kids, I used to love sleeping in on weekends and going to brunch with my girlfriends around noon. These days, by noon, I’ve probably been up for over five hours and likely eaten approximately two breakfasts and a lunch.
Yet, every time I see one of my friends from BC (“before children”) or even work friends from the last few years who don’t know my children, I’m reminded of how nice it is to step out of my usual networks and talk to people who can’t tell a Boppy from a Bumbo, and who have absolutely no interest in when preschool admission applications are due.
The other night, after a long day of juggling my work and kids, I had plans to meet a friend whom I used to work with for drinks. If I’m being totally honest, I considered postponing it. I was tired and felt like doing my usual nightly routine of wine-and-Netflix on the couch with my husband (in my defense, we were smack in the middle of a “Making a Murderer” binge-viewing).
But I decided to go, and boy am I glad that I did. We had a great time, drank a little too much dive bar beer, caught up on the goings-on in each of our lives, chatted about current events (gasp!), talking and laughing for hours. We didn’t speak of kids’ schedules or the challenges of parenting (thought there is undoubtedly a time and place for those conversations), and for a minute there, I forgot that I’d be up before 7 the next morning with at least one whine-y and hungry child.
And that’s a good thing.
Because hanging out with women outside your “mom” circles helps remind you a bit of your life before becoming a mom. While I love my new role as mother and wouldn’t trade it for anything, it can be all encompassing. Going out with friends and NOT talking about kids reminds me that being a mom is just one facet of who I am.
And I doubt I’m alone here. I’d bet most moms the world over wish that they’d get more time with their pre-baby friends, but the time constraints (on both sides) are real.
So, allow me to get on my soapbox (or Diapers.com box as the case may be) and implore moms—and the childless men and women who love them—to reach out to one another. Ask your friend to meet you for a beer/wine/coffee/cosmopolitan/green juice one night this week.
Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. And Netflix can wait.