The other day, I was talking to a single woman who was lamenting the distance she felt between herself and a close college friend, who was married. “Marriage changed things,” she said. “But since she’s had a baby, it’s a whole other ballgame.”
As a single person, I noticed the same thing. My single friends who got married (or who were even seriously dating) seemed less available, but the married friends who had kids … well, sometimes I felt as if I might as well wish them a good life and bid them adieu.
Now I’m on the other side. In fact, I’ve totally forgotten not one, but two Skype dates in a row with a good friend … this week. The first time, I was trying to force my 3-year-old to eat her dinner. The second time, I didn’t realize I had forgotten until well after the kids were in bed.
The point is, people with little kids are preoccupied. Sometimes that can feel as if they have no room for you in their lives, but usually that’s not the case. So here are three ways to stay connected to your friends who have kids:
Did I get your ire up by suggesting that? I’m sure some of you have experienced “the ask” for babysitting from a friend with kids. It can be annoying — like when you have a truck and everyone asks you to help them move. But in the past year, I’ve seen some amazing examples of single women loving their friends who are parents through babysitting. (A single guy friend of ours even paid for babysitting one time.) Sometimes a mother of young kids can go days without leaving the house or getting time to herself (and months without a date with her husband). One of my best friends has come over several times so I could run an errand or go to an appointment. We still get together, just the two of us, but she has been a true friend to me by meeting that need. She’s also demonstrated love for my kids, which strengthens our friendship.
2. Be patient
Going back to the Skype example above, sometimes parents are preoccupied. I used to feel frustrated when I was attempting to have a conversation with a friend, and her toddler interrupted us a kazillion times. One woman complained that all her friend talks about is her new baby. Folks, please remember that becoming a parent is a season (and one that, Lord willing, you may experience at some point in the future). It’s wild and can be hard to adjust to and be consistent through. Try to be patient with your friends who seem to waver between crazy-obsessive-love-and-pride for their offspring and crazy-obsessive-I-have-to-keep-this-human-alive panic.
3. Be persistent.
Last year, I used to get a text from a friend once or twice a week: “Want to do Zumba tonight?” Although, I only said yes about one out of five times, I saw that friend more frequently than any other. Her persistence paid off. Try not to feel offended when your friends with kids have to turn down invitations or say no to yet another dinner invite. Keep asking. Schedule the Skype calls. Make the coffee dates. Send the invitations. Just because they have kids and are less available doesn’t mean they don’t want to hang out with you.
When a friend gets “two steps” ahead — married with children — it can feel as if the friendship is fizzling. But don’t give up prematurely. Someday you may be the parent who needs faithful friends to love and support you through a hectic season. In the meantime, you each have something to offer the other from your unique vantage points. And don’t forget, today’s babies are tomorrow’s ring bearers and flower girls.
Copyright 2016 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.