There is no shame in not being a parent.
For as much as I romanticize about what it must be like to be 30 and without children, I know that life before/without babies isn’t automatically an easy one. But you have to admit, there are a few perks.
You don’t have to share your bowl of popcorn or ice cream with tiny faces and tiny mouths. You don’t have to listen to tiny dictators in the back of the car, who try to usurp your trip to town to do errands by barking orders to instead go to Chick Fil A. You don’t ever have to wander the toy aisles at Target just because, let alone each and every time you visit.
They don’t sound like much, but when you’re a parent, not having to do any of those things sounds like a slice of heaven.
But, this is not a guilt trip. Nope, uh-uh. You rock your life, right where you are, right now. And if parenting happens for you? Well, then that is great. And if not? That’s still perfectly okay.
But what about your friends with children? Their schedule is pretty much the opposite of yours. You haven’t seen your best friend wear a pair of high heels in….you don’t know how long. And those late nights out on the town with each other are a thing of the past.
It’s hard to find a common ground. It can be tricky to be on the same page.
I can only speak for being an almost 30-year-old with kids. And here are a few things that I think your friends with kids want you to know.
1.) Invite them
They may say “no” 90% of the time. They may not even reply to your invite. So what is the point?
The point is that they know you’re thinking about them. The point is that sometimes, the stars align, the babysitter calls back, the schedule clears, and suddenly, they’re game for a double date with you. Or they’re free to attend your backyard bbq sans children. Or they are available for a lunch date.
The point is that those connections remain open. The point is that those times, though they may be few, that they can say yes are occasions that need to happen.
They’re what keep the heart of your friendship beating. Try to be patient. Don’t you think your friend would rather say yes to a lunch or movie date than stay home for the umpteenth night in a row, anyway? 🙂
2.) It’s not as simple as “just bring the kids,” though.
If you’ve ever invited your parent-friend over, or to a function you’re having, or just out somewhere, but had them turn you down because they have to bring their child(ren) with them, and you don’t understand, let me give you some perspective:
Is your house/the place you’re going baby proof? Would they possibly be coming by themselves? Do you think it sounds like fun to chase a toddler around a home/yard/restaurant/museum that is not fenced in/baby proofed/full of other people trying to have a good time?
Do you think it sounds like fun to not be able to have a complete conversation with people because you’re too busy minding what your child is doing? Are you willing to be extra hands to help your parent friend so that they can have a few minutes to enjoy themselves?
If the answers are no, yes, no, no and no, then there is your answer.
Bringing children means hauling copious amounts of gear. Bringing children to a strictly/primarily adult function/location is not always fun. Bringing children can mean getting side-eyed glances when it reaches the witching hour and their frantic child is ready for bed, or when their child spills punch all down the front of themselves. Bringing children to something that is meant to be relaxing is definitely not always relaxing.
So, when your parent-friend opts out and decides she/he will catch you next time, don’t give them flack. Don’t wonder why. Just invite them again next time, because see #1.
3.) Come to them
Sometimes, rather than loading my three children up into the car or trying to hurry children into bed so that I can go out by myself, it’s nice to feel like on occasion my friends are willing to come to me.
Thankfully, I have friends who do come and visit me, and don’t seem to mind the messes around my house.
When they do that, I am reminded that not only are my friends awesome enough to still love me even though I can’t always answer their calls or forget to text back, having them come over and plop down on my sofa, right in the midst of chaos makes me feel like all of me, and my life, is accepted. Which is tremendously important.
No, it might not always seem like a fun time to enter into a Lego and yogurt infested arena, but your smiling face might be just what your friend needs. You’re taking charge and just stopping over means one less thing your friend has to think about in a day full of things they have to think about.
And I know that I am not the only adult who is happier to see another adulting adult to be adult-like with during the day.
4.) Love on our children
Even if you’re not a kid person. Even if you don’t want children. Even if our house is ridiculously messy, you’re sitting on a pile of Barbies and your friend looks like they haven’t showered in three days. Even if the kids have sticky hands.
Love on our children.
When you do that, we feel like you’re accepting all of us and all of the things in our lives. When the people I love adore the people I love most, I can hear a bunch of microscopic pieces clicking together across the universe.
When my friends act like they aren’t repelled or annoyed by my children, but instead act quite the opposite (as they pretty much always do) and love on them, and love them, every time that happens, my heart sings a thousand tunes that I didn’t know it held.
We love it when you love on our children.
This isn’t a check list. This isn’t meant to make you grove at the feet of your friends who are parents. This is not to make you feel bad.
This is a heartfelt thank you.