Dear child-free friends,
Our lives may be different now. Your priority might be your career, your partner, your desire for travel or caring for your pets. While I may be entrenched in diapers and kindergarten registration, you may be building your dream home or calculating your next job move. Our lives may be different, and they both matter.
I want you to know that even though I try not to talk incessantly about my children, I still appreciate how much interest you show in them. I love how you ask to see pictures and are genuinely enthused with how much they have grown. I apologize if I don’t always give your life’s journey the same attention. I will do better to ask you more questions and listen to your triumphs and struggles.
If we are close, I already know why you don’t have children. If I don’t know your reason, I respect that we are not at the point in our relationship where we can freely discuss these matters. If you desire children, but simply have been unable to have one, I will offer you continued love and support. I will listen to your stories of IVF treatments or adoption hurdles. I will respect you enough to not say things like, “it wasn’t meant to be,” or “maybe you just need to relax.” If you choose not to have kids, I will respect your decision, and listen to your reasons. Although, I personally think both men and women should be careful about saying they never want children, I am sure you have made this choice with careful consideration, and it is not my place to judge or try to sway you otherwise.
I am sure you have seen the countless memes poking fun at non-parents’ lack of understanding of the parental experience. While I do laugh at these, because, sometimes, raising kids, mean you do need a good chuckle, I never want to compare my life to yours. Yes, I am often very exhausted, and have gone many nights on only a few hours sleep. But, I’m sure you have as well. Maybe you were up every hour cleaning up after your sick dog, or maybe you pulled an all-nighter to prepare for an exam. Acknowledging your struggles doesn’t devalue my own experience.
I am sorry for those last-minute cancellations and long overdue phone calls. You are a good friend for understanding how kids can completely upend your social life. I want you to know that even though our get-togethers may be months or years apart, they always remind me of the importance of our friendship. And if I happen to bring a kid with me, thank you for being so cool about having a tot tag along. If I am child-free for the night, thank you for aiding me in having a chance to enjoy being adult once in a while.
Others may think we have so little in common now, so we can’t possibly stay friends. I say, “screw that!” I hope our friendship is important enough to survive the differences in our lives. I know I need to do my part, and I promise, I will do better.
Your Friend (With Kids)