Life ain’t a Lego movie yo…
If you’re one of those people who think you can still have a decent conversation with another adult after having babies, you’re in for a shock. Thanks to TV shows depicting mothers with their babies sleeping in prams and quietly sitting in high chairs while they blissfully lunch and have coffee with their girlfriends, many of us are lulled into a false sense of security that we can still maintain some semblance of nomalcy with a bubba in tow. HAH, I say.
Heads up: Life changes A LOT after kids. And no, most don’t sit still (TV babies are only TV babies because they are very placid – a rare breed. If you have one, well, we’re not talking). One of the ways that life will change is that your friendship circles may start looking a whole lot different. While the bun is still in the oven, many of your single/childless friends will probably coo to your tummy and offer future babysitting services. Then when the screaming monster is out and they realise you cannot meet them for drinks anymore at a whim’s notice, you will find them slowly fading into the background…That is not to say there aren’t people out there sans kids who still genuinely love and want to be around kids. You may find you have a few gems in your life who actually don’t act like you’ve contracted an infectious disease and will drop by and play with bubba while you do something you would never have previously considered a rewarding activity e.g. going to the toilet or eating a stale sandwich in peace, but they are few and far between (Side note: Friends in my life who are still kid free, if you are reading this, well, clearly you’re in my good books since you’re actually bothering to read this).
The reality though is that it’s hard to imagine the challenges of having kids until you actually have them – so you can’t blame your friends for running for the hills. Wanting, liking or working with kids is not enough (though it helps). No matter how prepared you are for parenthood, you can’t imagine what it’s like to be looking after a bundle of supposed joy 24/7 with no return policy until it happens. How hard it is to just leave the house with this extra little person. How lazy lunches have gone from relaxing to energy-sapping and how three-course dinners now only exist in a world of fantasy. Newflash: It is also not as easy to leave a young child with a babysitter as you might have imagined it would be. Get used to this term: separation anxiety.
You may also find that it is your friends without kids who are more judgmental towards your parenting style than people who do have them. Before you pop ’em out, in your head you are raising perfect children by the book. Once they’re out you realise that sometimes life ain’t scripted and you just gotta do what you gotta do to survive. Case in point: before Miss A, I certainly didn’t think I would use a dummy/pacifier but in a moment of desperation when she was a few weeks old, we rushed out to buy some. You might be determined to produce perfect children and need not be rocked to sleep but who knows what happens when you haven’t slept for days and they are crying the house down. All I’m saying is, never say never.
Rest assured, you’re not doomed to be alone until your kids are in high school though. At the same time, you will find yourself naturally drifting towards friends who do have kids. A horrible sense of guilt that you didn’t show enough empathy when they had their kids will creep up upon you. You will suddenly feel a sense of camaraderie towards them as if you’ve just been to war together. You can talk endlessly about the horrors of parenthood or you can also just sit side-by-side in silence and still feel like they understand you.
The reality is that after babies, your priorities and interests will change. Your favourite conversation topics will just naturally shift to how such a small thing poops so much and whether you can legally drug babies to sleep. You wouldn’t exactly talk about how your boobs are spraying milk like fountains with someone who hasn’t been through it, right? You will also simply have more time to talk in general with friends who have kids because your kids can play together and with each other’s toys. When you want to meet up with friends with kids you will naturally veer towards meeting in homes or the park or a child-friendly restaurant where screaming babies are welcomed. On the flip side, you probably couldn’t fit a pram through many of the old restaurants you used to frequent.
You might really be determined to still stay cool after kids but you’re kidding yourself if you think you can stay the exact same person. I supposed you can come somewhat close if you have nanny or close family members helping out but if you’re going to be doing it on your own, I would recommend adjusting your expectations.
Pre kids you may try to keep everyone happy but post kids you will have limited patience, energy and general care factor to spare so you will find you care a lot less about offending people or keeping fairweather friends. But if you really do miss your partying buddies, you probably have not lost them forever though. Chances are that when they have kids of their own, they will be back. You just wait and see. Just wait and see.