Friends Without Kids

Most of our friends don’t have kids. It’s just sort of happened that way. In the past week, I had two encounters with childless friends that have made me feel sort of lousy.

The first was mid-week last week. A friend and her husband were in town briefly and were able to spare a few hours to see Charlotte and eat some pizza with us. They’d been over for about an hour when the husband said, “So do you guys have anything going on other than the kid?”

It sort of felt like a slap to the face. Like, can we please talk about something other than life with your child? And to make matters worse, I couldn’t think of a single other thing to talk about. I need a solid bottle of wine if I’m going to have meaningful conversations about politics, the environment, or religion… and let’s face it, those conversations aren’t really great to have when you’re also trying to wrangle a one-year-old.

I sat there feeling like the kid at the table full of grownups. I wanted to stand up and shout, WAIT! I’M INTERESTING! I SWEAR!

Then on Saturday, a lot of our kid-free friends came to Charlotte’s party. It was SO nice to see them. I have missed spending time with our friends.

On Sunday, I was talking to Catch’s kid-free sister and I said something like, “We really need to try to spend more time with our friends.”

She jumped in really quick and said something like, “No, you really don’t have to. Trust me, the last thing they want is to be obligated to hang out with a kid.”

She went on to explain how she doesn’t really enjoy the evenings they have with their friends with kids. That the night ends too early and you don’t get to have adult conversation and then you leave at a time when most people’s night is just getting started and you feel sort of shortchanged by the evening.

Basically, she said that our non-parent friends feel like it’s a drag to hang out with us now that we’re moms.


There’s a part of me that wants to say, screw her, she’s wrong… but really, I think she’s probably right in a lot of ways.

Catch and I always had the party house. We were the ones who made elaborate meals and delighted in sharing food and copious amounts of liquor with our circle of friends. Now, people come over and I scramble to order a pizza and hope that the few beers I have in my fridge aren’t stale.

We aren’t just 30-somethings anymore. We’re parents. And we’re exhausted.

But we’re also kind of lonely. And how are we supposed to have interesting things to talk about if none of the interesting people in our life want to spend any time with us?


22 thoughts on “Friends Without Kids

  1. Wow. That’s a rough spot to be in. You make me appreciate that we had a solid group of friends when ours were little, who were all having kids at the same time. For us, that happened through church. I really don’t know where our circle of friends would have come from if we hadn’t had that built-in crew right there. I hope you’re able to find a new tribe somehow.

  2. This. This right here is one of my big fears about this upcoming school year with the addition of K and Z to our family. I keep getting texts through my group chat and every time, I think, “none of these people have kids. How am I going to maintain my friendships if none of my friends will have kids?”

    I’m not sure how helpful I am. But I understand your situation. I know local libraries usually do kid reading events and parks sometimes have play date meet ups where you could possibly meet people with kids, but that’s not helpful for your friends who don’t have kids.

    Solidarity, sister. I’m right there with you.

  3. I think this is an American phenomenon. My family is half based in the US and half sprinkled throughout the EU. Same with my work colleagues, for the most part. My EU friends/family seem to have more of a calm (ease? I can’t quite figure out what the right word is) around parenthood. My guess is because there is more work-life balance outside the US in general that has a knock on effect into parenthood. I wish I knew what it was because I am quite sure as soon as M and become parents we will fall into the same trap. 😉

    • The work life balance is a big deal! I think that makes the HUGEST difference. But also, outside of the US, family is literally the MOST IMPORTANT thing. There seems to be a disconnect here with that, and you can tell by our government. Parents get 6 weeks to bond with their kids…12 if your lucky and your company is cool with that. It’s terrible!

  4. Yes to all of this. None of our friends have actually said “So do you guys have anything going on other than the kid?” but I think it’s there, unspoken. I end up talking about stuff I have no interest in talking about, because really, I mostly do want to talk about my kid. She’s awesome. If she interrupts (at this age, anyway) to say “Ahhh bahh BAH” I stop in my tracks like it’s the best thing I’ve ever heard, and I still can’t quite understand that people think it’s okay to ignore her attempts at conversation. Our lives totally revolve around her, and I am totally okay with that. Except. Except I want friends. But I want them to understand what it’s like to have kids, you know?
    Last weekend we got together with a few other queer blogger moms in Toronto, and it was SO nice – to have that commonality of being queer, moms, and totally in love with our kids, was fantastic and restorative and a totally different experience than spending time with our childless friends. It made me realize just how much I need that, and I think we’ll be more proactive about seeking it out in the future.
    So much solidarity. But I think it won’t always be like this; Charlotte and Junie are going to walk and talk and pull us out into the world and we’ll find more and more awesome friends who get it and don’t roll their eyes while we go over the minutiae of parenting with uncontrolled enthusiasm.

  5. I feel like this too. I actually joined a group on with other moms in the area. I sort of needed someone who understands that I’m going to talk about my child and I’m a bit overwhelmed, but it’s so much of an adjustment.

  6. I think that’s harsh but yes, most of your kid-free moms aren’t going to call anymore. It happened to us. Some we don’t even see. I think if friends can’t be there for you through ALL of the stages in your life then what kind of friends are those? Instead of asking if you have anything going on OTHER than your kid, they could bring interesting things to talk about and steer the conversation where they want.

    I think you need to find some friends with kids. When our first was born, we found some blogger 2 mom friends and they are some of our best friends now. It was nice to meet others who had kids and when we get together, interrupting kids is the norm for all of us and no big deal.

  7. Oh yes, I know this one. The bad news is that your sister in law is probably right, kidless people don’t like hanging around kids. The good news is that this phase in charlottes life where every ounce of your attention and thoughts are on her doesn’t last more than a couple more years, then you will shake off being only mommy and find room to be (insert name here) again.
    Not helpful right now, I know 😉

  8. I’m a mish-mash here and I also feel your pain, so bear with me. Even as a mom WITH a kid, i sometimes feel bummed out hanging out with friends who can only talk about kids. I’m not placing you in that category, only commenting that I have those friends and I am that person. In some cases, our kids are the same age and the visit/evening/etc takes the same turn as your sister-in-law describes. It’s frustrating to feel like we’ve lost our friends because they have kids even while having a kid of our own.

    RR is six now and we started to build our adult friend set again about a year ago. We deliberately set out to make friendships based around other things (writing, music, games, beer, football, etc) and intentionally answered questions about her briefly, cheerily, and then changed the subject. We also go armed to any social event with three interesting things to talk about (though it’s harder with politics). Today I would come to your house with these things in my back pocket: pokemon go (playing it? know anyone who is?), Sarah Silverman (genius or outlaw telling hardcore Bernie fans not to be ridiculous), and can you believe this heat (this one time I was a lifeguard and my head peeled off. what was your hottest day?) Sometimes it’s hard not to tell that utterly cute story about RR saying “what is going ON with dogs?” sometimes I do anyway. It depends on how much I have in our emotional friendship bank account.

    All that is to say that I feel like it took awhile to get here even though I started pining for it *far* earlier. Also, Debra has way more tolerance for the descent into kid talk than I do, so it’s also a very personal thing. And we’ve never found a moms group we meshed with so I don’t know what would happen if we did. Most importantly (for me anyway) is that it sucks that our friend set changed. I still very much miss once was and while I’m not optimistic it’ll come back, I figure that as with every kid thing, it’ll will happen in time, in some way, eventually.

  9. I’ve found that there are several kinds of friends post-kid within our groups. 1) Friends without kids who were SO EXCITED that we were having babies, met them once, and have barely said boo since then. 2) Friends without kids who really want kids and shower our kids with attention (we have one couple in this category). 3) Friends with kids who like to talk about kids all the time too, but because we’re all so busy we often can’t get together, between work and bedtimes and nap times, pet care, childcare, housework…
    The friends who get bored with our kids though? They’ve just dropped off the radar entirely. Maybe one day we’ll reconnect, but for now I’m just trying to be okay with the fact that we’re in our kid space and they’re just not. It sucks to have that turned into a your fault kind of thing.

  10. In a way, I’m very glad that we are moving now and leaving our child-free friends behind on a good note. I love them to bits but I know that things will get weird once baby arrives.
    That said, I’m worried about finding friends on the other side. Kids *are* a big part of your life and I wish more people respected that. Other parents get it, but yeah, it’d be nice not to be limited to just other parents. Hopefully you will find new friends who are cool with your schedule and child-filled life. Sometimes it takes meeting people where you are now rather than expecting old friends to keep up. The best ones will, of course, but the best ones are rare.
    ❤ I hope it works out for you. I especially hope some of those friends realize what an error they're making in not wanting to see you and come back around.

  11. So get this! As our kids get older and into more things with school and sports it is hard to connect with out friends who have kids because we are all so busy. Those that don’t have kids disappeared about a month after they were born. It wasn’t so bad when we had 2 and could get sitters but now that there are 4 and a sitter is impossible no one wants to hang out with kids.

  12. I so get this!!! I was just talking with a friend today about this dynamic and how it’s interesting how relationships with non-kid friends are changing. And even how most of our friends with kids have kids substantially older then our little guy and they aren’t living around a 7 pm bed time, nap schedule, etc.
    And then when I think about our changing relationship with non-kid friends I cringe as i think that I must have been one of the worst kind of non-kid friend during our IF/RPL because I never went to any kid focused event. So I guess, I’m trying to cut them some slack because I know why I never went. And at the same time I’m also determined to find some new friends with babies of similar age to Baby MPB so we have something in common.

  13. I’m sorry you had these difficult conversations. I relate – last weekend I went to a party where dinner was served at 9pm. I had to tell my friend I could just come for a drink and some appetizers, then left just as people were arriving. I wish we lived closer. We should have a little Sunday dinner with our families sometime.

  14. No! No no no. They’re not right.

    You have a baby now, and if they don’t like it then they’re not friends in my opinion. Friends are with you no matter what, warts and all. They wait until you can arrange a sitter, they pause conversation whisky you mop up spilt cereal.

    I GET the whole hanging out thing where nights do end early and conversation can be a little stop and start, but tough shit. You have a kid now and I’m saddened to hear that friends are being funny with you because of it. Would they be the same if what was holding you back some sort of disability? I doubt it.

    Since having T I’ve lost a few non-baby friends but I take the as their loss. I’m still me (if they bothered to text/call) but they assume I’m going to be all kid. Fuck ’em. Likewise, since having T, I now know who my real friends are.

    Sorry about the rant, I just hate how parents are feeling almost guilty for having a kid because THEIR friends are upset.

  15. So here’s what annoys me about this situation… Why is there an expectation that things won’t change? I made the decision to have a child precisely because I wanted my life to change. This doesn’t mean I’m not interesting anymore, just because I’m not up at 1 am drinking. (Oh, I am still up at 1 am…) It means I’m learning about a whole new set of things. Brain development! How humans develop social bonds! This shit is fascinating.

    In order to stay friends with non-child-rearing folk, I think it requires an adjustment of expectations on both sides. Maybe instead of coming over for dinner, people come over for brunch. Maybe instead of going to a bar, you picnic in the park.

    I will say that I’ve been saved from the “no friend” zone because a group of my friends all had babies around the same time. I don’t see my childless/free friends as often, but we try to carve out some no kid time every month or so. Mr. O or I will take Chick and let the other person be a grown up for a few hours. Not perfect, but it helps keep those bonds in place.


  16. I’m really sorry this is the case, but I also don’t think it’s universal and it might just be a chance to meet some new friends (with our without kids) who share your priorities. Not to say that’s an easy thing, but I do believe there are people both with and without children who want to be friends with and in community with people who have kids. We’ve seen a shift in who spends time with us, and some folks are, like the people you described, looking for a social scene that we can’t provide. But others enjoy watching Ansel get up to no good and integrating him into the social interaction we have because they value children and parents. I hope you get to find those people. Because friends who don’t want to hang out with charlotte are not real friends.

  17. I have no children but I’m one of those people who wants to be around kids. We actively invite our parent friends to come over, bring the kids, let’s color or have a movie night, whatever. We make time for adult conversation even if it isn’t in person. I would hate for my friends to think that I didn’t enjoy them anymore. I don’t stay up late or party, so that’s not an issue. It’s beautiful seeing people blossom into parents and watching their kids grow…and spoiling them a bit here and there. I hope you find a set of friends who are pleased to be in the company of your entire family and will listen when you talk about the cutest thing she did the other day. Hugs.

  18. I couldn’t agree more with Andie! We were always really fortunate to have this great village with great friends, who don’t see our kids as a “nuisance”. They see our kids as this extra “special sauce” to our usual meal, if you will. Do we get to hang out with them as often? No! We are always so so busy! If it’s not a birthday party for Mary’s friends, or swimming or soccer, and if it’s not sick babies, and dr. appt. And they don’t just show up for important stuff. They facetime the kids, and they ask to come over on sunday afternoon to “hang out with the kids!”.

    There are ABSOLUTELY people out there, with and without kids, who would absolutely LOVE to spend time with you and Catch and Charlotte. They’ll show up! I will say though, it absolutely sucks to be excluded, and that has happened to us quite a bit as well, but for the most part, people who love you, and truly and genuinely want to spend time with you and love your friendship won’t see Charlotte as a factor in negating fun, but as a “fun enhancer”.

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