How It Feels To Be The Childless Friend

Eric Froehling
Eric Froehling

I never saw myself as one of those people who is fulfilled by having a house full of kids. When I was a teenager, I proudly proclaimed that I never wanted children. After college, my thoughts on the matter turned into a soft “maybe”, but the older I get, the more I’m leaning toward that hard “no” once more. And I’m okay with that.

My mom isn’t okay with it, and I’m okay with that too. But what I’m not okay with – what I didn’t anticipate – is how my friends having children would make me feel. It started with my best friend from high school. She got married a couple of summers ago, and almost right away, they announced they were having a baby. It made me feel… weird. I couldn’t figure it out, and I couldn’t explain it.

Then it was my college roommate. Same story, different people. She and her new husband were married for about 6 months when they posted on Facebook that they were expecting. This time I felt even more weird, but I was beginning to understand what was happening with me. My friends having babies scared me.

I was afraid it meant my relationships with those friends were going to change.

Now it’s my best friend from my college and post-college years. She told me at dinner last night that she and her husband are expecting a baby this winter, and I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I wish so much that she hadn’t told me in person, because I was forced to put on a happy face for her, and I know I failed miserably. It took me a solid minute of stuttering and half sentences before I finally managed a choked, “Well… congrats!”

While she was going on and on about their potential nursery decorations and her baby’s placenta and its level of attachment to her uterus (ummmm…?), all I could think was, “How could you do this to me? How could you abandon me like this? Don’t you understand what is going to happen now???”

They all say it won’t happen. Things won’t change that much. But they do. They do change that much. All conversations had after 7:30 pm are whispered so as not to wake the baby. Plans are made around nap times instead of happy hours. Dinners are had at Panera, where they serve PB&Js and Gogurt, instead of at Irish pubs. And the worst thing of all of this – other women, women who also have children, fill my place. Other parents become the obvious people to spend time with, since they have so much in common.

I know how selfish this all sounds. I really do. I hate myself for feeling this way. But I can’t help it. I can’t help but mourn the loss of friendships past. No more spontaneous road trips. No more staying up all night talking and drinking fruity drinks. No more, “Hey, I’m in town tonight. Want to go out to dinner?”

So what do I do? Quiz all potential new friends about their desire to have children and only hang out with the ones who claim to never want them? Just get over myself, knowing that this is what I signed up for when I decided not to have kids? Have some kids so I fit in? None of these seems like the right answer. I think the actual right answer is a combination of these two things: 1) I cut my mom friends some slack for making a different choice than I’ve made in life and 2) my mom friends make an effort to see things from my (childless) point of view.

So I’ll leave you with this thought: mommas – your kidless friends know you have a new focus of your attention, and we think you’re killing it. But please try to remember how we feel too – sometimes talking about your daughter going pee pee on the potty just isn’t what we want out of our friendship with you. We know there is a fun-loving adult in there somewhere, and we want to spend time with her.Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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