Saturday, January 17, 2015

Just Get Awesome

I have been thinking about this topic recently, and I've been avoiding mentioning it because I don't want to fight with anyone in my life with children.

This blog, just before all of my mom-friends start getting upset, was not inspired by any of my own close friends or my cousins. It was mostly inspired by Huffington Post, actually, as well as by a conversation with my therapist that I'll elaborate on later.

So with that, I'm just going to say it. 

It's not my fault that you have kids and I don't. 

Say what??

I read a blog recently on Huffington Post, about all the reasons why those of us without kids need to be more patient with our friends who have kids, including that their life is just too damn busy to have a spare moment in the day. And while it was funny - and a lot of it true to life - I also found it really irritating. Because the simple fact is, whether you have kids or not, you don't get to be a shitty friend.

I know that you have kids because you want to. People have kids because they want to have kids; they want to raise a little human, give someone life, add meaning to their own lives, and any other myriad of reasons. People want kids. I totally understand that; I know the fact that I do not want children puts me in the minority among women my age. I also understand that your life, your priorities, and your routines change when you have kids. How could they not? Kids take a ton of time and energy! They make giant messes that you have to clean, and they have to nap at certain times and eat at certain times, and they are a bitch to get in and out of a car. They make you tired, wear you out, and despite all that you still want to spend the two hours between picking them up from daycare and putting them to bed, with them. Kids are a major time suck, albeit a pleasant-ish one. I get it.

When you become a parent, your priorities change - obviously. Most major life transitions require a change in perspective, a change in lifestyle, a change in time management. And as more or my friends and family have become moms, I have changed my expectations of them; I no longer expect that I can plan a cousin's trip to Vegas for my birthday, nor do I think I can drag them all out to a club every weekend. I spend a lot more time at birthday parties, at playgrounds, having quick dinners in. I know that I have to filter my conversations because of the little ears listening, and I listen to a lot more stories about what someone did for the first time or said that was funny. I watch more cartoons and buy more board games & puzzles, and I am understanding that for every ten things I invite these moms to, they attend (maybe) two. Again, I get it. The kid, the energy, the time suck - the struggle is real for moms.

That said, why are those of us without kids the only ones making the accommodation, making the sacrifice? Why are those of us who can spend every birthday out of town, who can spend every weekend out until three in the morning, who want to drink and dance and have an uninterrupted conversation about sex - why are we the ones who are made to feel like we're wrong, or needy, or demanding of our friends' time? In reality, we are spending a hell of a lot of time with your kids, just to get a minute with you; why don't you ever have to accommodate us in return? Why aren't you ever getting a babysitter and a caffeine IV drip and pacifying me by talking about guys and sex and staying out all night with me? Not even pacifying really, why aren't you still being my friend and making that effort because you want to?

After having an hour-long conversation with my therapist about it, I think the answer is pretty simple: it's because women in their thirties are expected to have young children, and since so many of them do, those of us who don't are just expected to deal with the fact that our friends had babies and started sucking at friendship.

Blogs like the one Huffington Post made viral are part of the problem; that post made excuses for why as a parent, you can act like a selfish, crappy friend and get away with it. If I were to start telling my friends, every time they tried to make plans, that I was too tired or too busy, my friends would stop trying. They'd stop trying because I'd be acting like a shitty friend - constantly being too tired and too busy for your friends, in fact makes you a shitty friend. Whether you're too tired because you were out all night hooking up with guys in bars, or because you were up all night with a baby, if it's consistently happening all the time, you're being a crappy friend for not making an effort. True friendship is a two way street. If I am always chasing someone down begging them to spend time with me, I am quick on my way to not being friends with that person anymore.

Ain't nobody got time for that shit.

I spend a lot of time hanging out with children, because most of my friends, and most of my cousins, are parents. And as much as I love spending time with the babies, toddlers, and rugrats in my life, I am also thrilled when my friends or my cousins can leave them home with dad or grandma to have a night out with me, to go to the beach or on a hike with me, or even to just talk without interruption for a few hours. With friendships, it is important to maintain balance, and it's important that efforts are being made on both sides. If you're a single, childless friend, it's your responsibility to bond with your friends' children, to hang out with them sometimes, and to make plans that are easy for your overtired mom friends. Their struggle is real; they live with those energy-eaters alldayeveryday. But - as is the focus of this post - if you're a mom friend, it is also your responsibility to get a little wild with your single friends sometimes, and to sometimes make plans that don't involve your children. Because really, if you're dragging your baby to every outing I invite you on, you're being a little bit of a selfish ass hole.

And though our struggle is different, the single woman's struggle is just as real.

What it all boils down to, is that to be a friend, you have to actually be a friend. No excuses, no bull shit. You can't have a constant excuse - baby or hangover - for why you're being a shitty friend. Make time for your friends, no matter what life changes are coming at you.