real life

The challenges of friendship when only one of you has kids.

Long before all my girlfriends starting popping out kids faster than an African nation without morally-sanctioned birth control, I proposed to them that we should institute an annual girls’ holiday.  Nothing fancy, mind you, just a weekend away.  Away from our partners, whatever children we may or may not have, and just spend some quality time talking girly stuff.  Cement our friendship.  A little Sex and the City, and lots of wine.  Our future husbands would probably be doing annual boys’ golfing holidays, so hey, why can’t we do it too?

Now I thought this idea would go off like a frog in a sock, especially since we were all addicted to Sex and the City back in the day.  How much arm-twisting does one need to spend time on a beach with some of your best girlfriends (oh, and did I mention wine?).

The idea was shut down completely by my girlfriends, pretty much without any discussion.  They had already envisioned that there would come a time when they would have children, and a girls’ weekend and children just simply did not compute.  I didn’t even feel like I was able to protest, since it was as futile as being a lone climate change voice at a Conservatives convention.

I was pretty disappointed.  Actually, disappointment didn’t even begin to describe how I felt; there was more bewilderment and hurt.  I was bewildered by their refusal to even consider leaving their children in their husbands’ capable hands for merely one night.  And I was hurt that they didn’t cherish our friendship enough to spend just one night out of 365 together.

Fast forward to today, and now that most of my girlfriends have children, I recently proposed the idea again.  I thought that with the realities of parenting understood, they’d be more amenable to it.  They’d be gagging for girl time, where they can speak like adults for a whole weekend rather than in kid-speak.  And the dads would relish the opportunity to eat sausage rolls on the couch, possibly in just their undies, and watch 8 hours straight of The Simpsons reruns with their children.

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I heard crickets.  This time there weren’t even refusals.  I was roundly ignored.

As a single and childless woman, it’s not beyond my comprehension that, for my friends, their children come first above all else, even above their husbands. But in life we should nurture all of our relationships, whether they be with family, spouses, or close friends. All of these people fulfill different yet important needs in our lives and, like cars, they need to be serviced regularly. A two-hour lunch or dinner every couple of months, like a top up of petrol, keeps the relationship humming along but to ensure longevity it requires more quality input and attention.

Perhaps they would feel guilty leaving someone that is completely dependent on them, even if it is for just one night. But unless they are still breastfeeding or a single parent, mothers aren’t necessarily the sole caregiver for their babies and children. Do they forget they have a hopefully-just-as-capable husband that also shares the responsibility of caring for their children? They may even be lucky enough to have willing and enthusiastic parents or in-laws who would love nothing more than to spoil their grandchildren rotten with sweets and cuddles.

There’s a reason why Sex and the City was so addictive. It portrayed a fantasy of how we wanted to see ourselves, even just a little bit, if it weren’t for the fact our normal lives got in the way. All that carefree shopping, hot sex, and above all, deep and rock-solid female friendships that are fueled by frank and open discussion and, let’s face it, many Cosmopolitans.

The reality is that, once your friends have sprogs, their lives are overwhelmingly consumed by them that there is little room for friendships after factoring in their spouses and mothers’ groups. Those that do manage to maintain close friendships only do so through persistent and dedicated effort. One just hopes that the friendships are valuable enough for both sides to put the effort in.

Ev is a Sydney-based blogger and traveller at heart.  You can find her blog here.
Have your friendships changed since your friends had kids? Since you had kids?