As we’re growing up, most of us make friends by convenience. Children become besties because they live on the same apartment floor, having next door cubbies in kindergarten, or their parents have known each other since college.
The main requirement for friends at this age seems to be access, and not being jerks to each other. And that’s easy enough when the standards are low and everyone is learning to walk, share, and communicate.
Things get a bit more challenging in adolescence and college, with hormones and feelings. Though those same requirements- access and kindness remain- betrayal becomes possible. Joining different friend groups, having a crush on the same person or developing different interests can all end friendships. It happens, and it hurts, and entire genres of books and movies have been written about the subject.
But kids are resilient, and those friendships, for most of us, have a way of working themselves out, or being replaced by deeper, truer bonds.
I’ve found that isolation can truly settle in, in adulthood though. In a city like DC, and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs, where people are often moving in and out, or are focused on forward momentum, things can get lonely. This is never more true than in our big transitions, and parenthood can be one of the largest of them all.
Many of the new parents I know are shocked by how easy it is to lose track of their friends without children. “My friends never invite me out now that I’m a mom,” is a common refrain. And while making mom friends (and dad friends too) is important, there’s something special about bonds that have been nurtured long-term.
I try to remind clients that they likely aren’t truly losing their single friends. Everyone just has to adjust. As a woman without kids or a long-term partner myself, I know that I have to make special efforts to stay friends with the folks I love who get married and have babies. But I’m more primed to think of this, since I’m a doula, and I admit to often failing.
I make plans during bed time, host outings that aren’t kid friendly, or assume that because I haven’t heard from someone she’s moved on. I forget that she’s still my friend, she just has new responsibilities, and maybe she’d still love to hang out. I’m not much of a babysitter (I promise you that being a doula is different), and so I worry that I’d not be much help.
So let’s make a point to keep reaching out to one another. Yes, you have your mommy friends, your parenting tribe, and I’ve got my happy hour buddies. But brunch is common ground. Let’s do that! Or if you tell me when the baby is likely asleep for a stretch, I’ll bring wine and we can hang out. I want to know your family through more than Facebook pictures, and know what you’re up to in real life these days.