Every now and then (more often as of recent), I find myself with a desperate urge to make friends. I’m in my mid-20’s, and for some reason it seems impossible to make real, good friends, like how you did in high school, or college if you attended. First of all, I don’t go anywhere that I really meet people my own age, except for work, and they’re all my clients. Many of them are great conversationalists and temporarily fill my gap for human interaction, but how many of them would actually say “Absolutely!” if I asked to have a drink with them? I feel like 90% of them would give me the half-hearted, “Sure, we’ll have to get together…EVENTUALLY.” I mean, what if your dentist asked if you wanted to hang out sometime, or your tax guy? Weird.
Secondly, I’m not an extremely social person. To be honest, I don’t really like people, especially groups. Which leads to my third point, I have a significant other, and we live together. Meeting other couples is like a clever game of mind chess as you attempt to figure out if they’re both normal, if one is crazy, if they hate you collectively, or if you have a real connection, all while being polite enough to not piss off not one, but TWO people. And your significant other is doing it too…sometimes one of you is less skilled than the other and says something stupid that just ruins it for the both of you. And whether your new friend-in-question is part of a couple or you’re just out on your own, let’s face it–people are full of crap. Weeding through the bullshit to get to the morale and character of the person you’re talking to is the challenge in finding a true friend as an adult. Teenagers are jerks too, but adults just seem to have something to prove, and a specific set of shoes to fill, and it’s a lot more effort to chip away that wall than it is for a teenager talking to other teenagers.
Truth be told, I haven’t made a single -true- friend as an adult. They’re literally all people I knew in high school, or even before high school. My two best friends and I all met when we were in elementary school. We’ve remained friends, but not as close as we once were. We’ve moved around, gotten jobs, had to become adults, you know? Life gets in the way and you get busy, especially if you, like them, become a mother.
I’ve often thought about the differences between my friendships with my two best friends since they’ve had children. Now I’d like to be clear here, just because I’m NOT a mom doesn’t mean I’m a delusional moron who expects my friends to still come over every weekend. I understand that kids take a lot of time, dedication, and resources. I’m not a party animal who wants them to go drinking with me twice a week (if I did this, I bet I’d have more friends…xD), and I’m not a bitch who immediately changes the subject whenever either of them brings up their children because I don’t relate. It isn’t hard to imagine caring for a little person and making sure they grow up to be functioning, happy adults. Both of my best friends have changed with motherhood in regards to our friendship, but in different ways.
Friend A-The Doting Mother
One of my friends brings up her kids CONSTANTLY, at least several times in each conversation. She sends me pictures of them with Santa every year (which I enjoy!), she texts me pictures of them mid-blink because it’s the cutest thing ever, she asks me if she told me about how her daughter used the table to stand herself up the other day (yes, you’ve told me four times). Her kids are the light of her life. She rarely talks about her job, but does talk about her relationship issues, which are likely a contributing factor to why she puts so much emphasis on her kids. It’s like “My relationship track record is abysmal, but I have these adorable children! Do YOU have adorable children? Are they as adorable as mine? Unlikely. Let me tell you about how awesome they are.” Our phone conversations are normally pretty good; they often center around her, but about once a month we have a really good chat where we catch up on life.
We don’t see each other often anyway because she lives about an hour away, but we’re used to that. I started to really notice a change when she started hanging out with different people…people who are also moms! Single moms, like her.
One time, one of these friends came in to get tattooed and told me about the fun that she, my best friend, and another single mom had when they and their children went to the zoo together the week before. I tried to act excited, but inside I was thinking…what the hell? We live literally ten minutes away from the zoo, I could have easily met up with them. She didn’t even mention ever going to the zoo until I asked her about it, at which time she played it off as “Oh, yeah, we all went to the zoo, it was fun.” Even though I’ve hung out with her children (only one at this point I believe) a hundred times, and her 4-year old son loves me, I couldn’t help but wonder if it would just be awkward for them if I was the only one without a child present at the zoo.
Since then, I’ve seen her attending birthday parties with these friends, most of which I know from high school but am not officially acquainted with, unless you count Facebook, and pictures of her children at the mall or wherever they may be. But my friend has only, in the 2 1/2 years since my boyfriend and I have been living together, visited my house one time. I normally end up making the hour-long drive up to her house if I want to see her. She AND her children are welcome to come over any time! But for some reason, I feel guilty saying, “Hey, I know you’re a single mom and you have a 40 hour workweek just like me, but since we have the same days off, maybe you could come visit ME for once, since you haven’t seen our place that my boyfriend and I moved into over a year ago? It sure would be nice to see you!”
Friend B-The Socially Awkward Hermit Mother
My other best friend is almost the exact opposite. She tries her best to keep in touch with me and actually initiates visiting about as often as I do, which is great! The reason behind this is that she has very, very few friends, and for the first 2 years of her mommyhood, she didn’t really interact with other adults, at all, except for her then-boyfriend and her current fiance. Most of her high school friends were bad influences–they did drugs, had random sex, ran away and snuck out of the house, and she did a lot of that with them. After you have kids…not so much. The plus is that our significant others get along well enough too for us all to go out together and not kill each other as well, and she lives a bit closer than Friend A.
We don’t talk a whole lot in between our visits, but I try to stay caught up and we never miss a “Happy birthday” or “Merry Christmas”. When we do talk, this friend doesn’t talk much about her kids at all, unless something amusing happens. She thinks I’ll be bored of hearing about them because I don’t have kids of my own, and because they aren’t mine. On the contrary, I do enjoy hearing a little bit about them (just not about every booger they picked or the shape that they were laying in for their naps this afternoon)! Her kids absolutely adore me, and I always end up playing with them when I visit her house, but she seems embarrassed that they ‘harass’ me because it’s not something I do on a normal day. I’ve offered to babysit countless times (her girls are 5 and 3), but she always laughs and says that I don’t know what I’d be getting into.
What I glean from these two perceptions is that apparently, because I don’t have children, that I’M different. Friend A prefers to hang out with and talk to other moms because she feels that she has more in common with them now than she does with me. Friend B likes to pretend that she doesn’t have kids when we hang out because she fears that I will find her boring and stop hanging out with her. She believes that because I don’t have kids and because I’m undecided on whether or not to have any, that children revolt me, that I don’t understand them, and that they frighten or aggravate me with their very existence.
But the truth is that I care very much about both of my best friends, and I welcome their motherhood lifestyles and simply want to be part of their life in general, despite my own lack of genetic offspring. I wonder why it seems so different? Thoughts?