“I’m a 40-ish woman, intelligent, fun, interesting, married, a homeowner, have a lot in common with the women I meet. You like me when we meet…why do you turn off when you learn I have no children?”
—A 2005 query posted at Ask.MetaFilter.com
Some might assume that NotMoms have a bunch of hang-ups about friendships with Moms. That thinking runs along the lines of: ”It’s kids kids kids all the time, why would a woman without kids want to listen to that? She can’t relate to the chaos that life with kids really is.”
I believe that’s an assumption that describes some NotMoms, but certainly not all. If every one of my friends had to meet a requirement of having sane relatives, I’d be SO alone. So why would I place that hurdle, albeit kid-sized, on potential girlfriends? Kids are crazy and they make their mothers crazy. Perhaps what really makes the difference is that I can walk away when the screaming [child, not mother] gets too nuts.
The challenge of creating and sustaining Mom/NotMom girlfriend relationships is HUGE, yet I was a bit surprised when Google unearthed the sad little query above. It’s well-written. It’s hard to whine about the behavior of Moms in a world dominated by Moms, ya know?
The comparison to the poster’s situation is when you’re introduced to someone at a party and even as you shake hands, the other person glances over your shoulder in search of someone…better. In this example, dismissal comes from misplaced feelings of superiority.
For many mothers, I believe the unique experiences of parenthood lead them to conclude that there’s no way to explain it to anyone without children. Life with kids is something you either get or you don’t, and because NotMoms decidedly don’t get it, pursuing friendship is just too hard.
The truth is that friend-making is quite often a product of proximity. Do you work together? Do you live near each other? Are you hanging out at the same places? The trump card is, of course, do your children go to the same school? Kids are better social connectors than Match.com and NotMoms can’t compete in that arena. No shame, just fact.
But, I’ve heard NotMom friends complain of being left out of party invitations because “everyone else is bringing their kids.” Granted, people without children may not be the last ones to leave a kids & adults soiree, but don’t we deserve a chance to show up? I can walk with you when you’re out with the baby. Must I have a stroller, too?
It probably takes more effort to sustain a cross-parental friendship, but the work is for both sides to tackle. Anecdotally, NotMoms are more open to keeping friendships with Moms alive, perhaps because we know that a social circle limited to only childless women, might be very small indeed.